A Light at the End of the Pandemic

Looking back, we can unequivocally say that 2020 held some of the most unprecedented times throughout human history. By all accounts, the year proved difficult, tragic, and riddled with historical lessons. However, we also witnessed the birth of empathy through shared suffering, innovation born of necessity, and glimmers of hope for a better future.

Although COVID-19 dominated headlines, we were also captivated by the fight for racial justice and equality, the presidential election, and economic recession. We faced tremendous adversity, including the loss of loved ones, business closures, a financial crisis, and rioting.

For many, 2020 was one of the most challenging times in our lives, and although it might seem cliché, the timing seems right to recall the aphorism, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” First ascribed to 19th-century German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, scientists at Northwestern University recently tested this “hypothesis” among young scientists and concluded that setbacks early in their career portend tremendous future success [NW Study]—confirming earlier findings that some adversity can promote resilience [Seery, Curr Directions in Psych Sci].

At ECIR Medical Communications, we are embracing 2021 with an abundance of optimism and commitment while trying to find the silver lining of 2020.

The pandemic has affected seemingly every industry in some capacity, going as far as transforming and shaping the way business is conducted. With all of the innovations and changes sweeping the medical landscape, the field of medical communications has also experienced transformation and momentum. At ECIR Medical Communications and its subsidiaries, Luminology and iLuma, we are proud to have emerged stronger. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed patients cancel their appointments with healthcare providers, physicians’ offices close, elective procedures be placed on hold indefinitely, international travel come to an abrupt halt, and live scientific congresses undergo digital transformation.

Furthest from the minds of healthcare providers were the activities closest to our professional hearts: congresses, advisory boards, speaker programs, interactions with pharmaceutical representatives, and more. Enrollment in clinical trials decreased, new studies were put on hold, and protocols were amended in order to adapt to the looming virus.

The pandemic severed most traditional opportunities to communicate science to healthcare providers and patients, but it did not dissolve the need for knowledge. In fact, it was a harbinger for creative ways to communicate science more expeditiously.

One of the most gratifying parts of 2020 for our team was the opportunity to help our clients navigate what is now a very tired phrase: “the new normal.” In the midst of the pandemic, we began offering our clients new ways to engage their stakeholders, communicate their data, and achieve their mission. We began conducting virtual advisory boards, steering committee meetings, and investigator events from the most basic Zoom meetings to far more ambitious events with breakouts, whiteboarding, polling, and gamification. We worked hand in hand with clients to pivot to virtual congresses seamlessly in less than 10 days. Clients quickly appreciated the value and necessity of these remote undertakings and began planning virtual launches, sales meetings, and trainings. Conventional pre–COVID-19 posters, reprints, and sales aids have been supplanted by interactive posters, infographics, leave-behinds, and electronic sales pieces. As we slowly return toward normalcy, we fully anticipate that these new virtual capabilities will complement our traditional approach, resulting in a more robust and more diversified business.

The pandemic reinforced our core values and beliefs as a company: that we would rise to the occasion and serve as an extension of our clients’ teams, delivering a new generation of customized, creative solutions for our clients’ challenges, using the right insights, inner drive, and tools to do so.

We hope that you can find the silver lining in every setback and follow it to a stronger future. At ECIR, we believe that each hurdle we cleared in 2020 taught us how to jump higher in 2021. We are fortunate to work with clients and companies who care about their people and remain dedicated to building strong cultures rooted in values, ethics, and integrity, in both good times and tough times. We plan to look for and embrace the obstacles that may be the gateway to creativity. We hope that you will, too.