by Staff Writer
Early last year, around the time most of the world was hunkering down to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic in isolation, an audio-only iPhone app “Clubhouse” was preparing to bring large groups of people together in a new way. And although its boom in popularity coincided with the second wave of the virus, thanks in part to the likes of Drake, Elon Musk, and high-profile thought leaders drawing attention to the app, all signs indicate that Clubhouse is not just another pandemic fad. (Looking at you, banana bread)!
Clubhouse is often compared to a large hallway in which the user has the option to pop into a seemingly never-ending supply of “rooms.” These rooms, as Clubhouse calls them, are based on a particular topic and can be hosted by anyone and everyone. Which rooms you see are based on who you follow, who your connections on the app follow, what topics you’ve selected as areas of interest, and what clubs you’ve joined. Public discussions held by a certain user or club may be daily or weekly scheduled happenings, while others are more ad hoc. While some discussions are planned, others are impromptu, and the option exists to hold private conversations, as well. As the app continues to gain traction, it’s proving to be an inclusive space for DEI groups, including BIPOC voices.
The content a particular user is served is tailored to their interests, and the result is a place where experts and newcomers alike can come together to talk about things they are passionate about to not only connect and network, but to have open conversations across a wide variety of topics. It’s not uncommon to find yourself in a room about the latest trends in cryptocurrency one minute, only to leave and join another room focused on a recap of this week’s Bachelor episode.
As brands begin to flock to the app, due in part to the open conversation the app allows, it’s apparent that wellness and lifestyle will be frequent topics of conversation on Clubhouse. But what about the healthcare community at large? We’ve pulled together some early trends and predictions as to how the industry may begin to utilize Clubhouse as a channel:
As Clubhouse is inherently set up for a panel-style discussion, we may see Key Opinion Leaders (KOLS) begin to leverage the app for discussions on various topics, either independently or sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and brands.
This has the potential to give KOLs the opportunity to engage with HCPs and other peers on a more personal or informal level, while still discussing data, trends, and advances in treatments. As rooms can be set to “private,” Clubhouse may offer opportunity to host virtual roundtables as well.
We recently found ourselves in a Clubhouse Room titled “A Few Black Docs: Organ Transplant. Needs & Misconceptions.” That platform allowed this handful of doctors to engage with 1000+ patients from around the world in a more informal setting, through which they discussed everything from personal experiences as Black doctors in healthcare to the physical skills required when performing kidney transplants. They were able to call on listeners directly (a mix of patients and HCPs) who asked questions and discussed misconceptions about everything from receiving transplants to the challenges of serving as a caregiver for a loved one.
We will likely see more rooms that allow for open conversation between doctors and patients – planned either organically by the doctors themselves, or potentially hosted by KOLs in partnership with Pharma companies down the line.
Patient to Patient Discussions
Clubhouse provides an opportunity for support groups to host patient-to-patient (or patient-to-caregiver) discussions, where individuals dealing with similar diagnoses or life experiences can come together to share experiences and provide personal perspectives. While this use of the app may be comparable to any other online support group, the voice-focused aspect of Clubhouse may allow patients and caregivers to share stories, give tips and advice, or connect with others going through shared experiences in a more meaningful way due to the forum’s platform of personal engagement without individuals having to appear on camera.
As the stigma of speaking about mental health continues to decline, we will certainly see people coming to Clubhouse to share experiences with their mental health struggles and victories. Additionally, we expect we may see individuals or brands beginning to host guided meditations and other virtual group activities.
New Health or Health-tech startups can use Clubhouse to find an audience of not only potential customers, but investors, as well. By hosting rooms about relevant topics, or even their product specifically, brands rely on the app as a productive way to generate buzz, build a social following, gain unfiltered feedback on their product, and potentially even gain funding for new ideas.
Overall, Clubhouse certainly has the potential to be a great channel for conversations involving the many facets of healthcare, pending individual brands’ and companies’ comfort level from a med-legal perspective. It’s worth noting that, as with any other social platform that encourages open and unmoderated conversation, there is always the possibility that false information will be spread, as we’ve seen occur over this past year with the rise of the pandemic. This is a factor that all healthcare brands will need to seriously consider and plan for before dipping their toes in these waters.
But at the very least, it’s likely Clubhouse will organically become a common platform for HCPs, caregivers and patients to share stories and trade tips, and for new health tech brands to generate buzz.
For information about Clubhouse as a whole, potential privacy concerns, or how the app is already being used by brands outside of the healthcare space, keep a watch on the Ogilvy social channels for an in-depth POV coming this month.