Before medical communication was formally defined, its origins began centuries before modern day medicine was even founded, back to the Greek philosopher Hippocrates, who believed disease was caused by nature and not by the divine. Medical communication has been around as long as pharmaceutical companies have been around and has been used by various aspects of society to disseminate important health information. In more modern times, the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) formally defined medical communication as the development and production of materials that deal specifically with medicine or health care. Medical communication is necessary to summarize complex scientific information into easily distributable forms for the benefit of both pharmaceutical companies and those who read the communications. There are many forms of medical communication: one example patients see often are drug information advertisements on tv or a pamphlet/visual on a drug therapy. A presentation on a study by a doctor given to his peers is also another form of medical communication, and even websites dedicated to health topics are another form that can be called medical communication.
Prior to the modern-day social media age, medical communication was typically found in more formal settings: drug information pamphlets when a patient picks up a medication, or study documents found in research centered organizations. The advancement of media allowed for broader use of medical communications; the first advertisement for a prescription drug pain reliver aired in the United States in 1983, since then major regulations took place on how medical information could be distributed and marketed (Stat News). In 1996 during the .com boom, the WebMD website was founded to provide the public with diagnosis tools for the general public. As of today, that website pulls in 75 million visitors a month and had many competitors pulling in just as many visitors (WebMD Stats).
Medical writers are some of the biggest contributors to the medical communications world, they are writers who specifically develop content for medical and scientific information. They fall under a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) category known as technical writers, and growth for these writers is projected at 12% for the next 10 years, which is faster than all other occupations (BLS). With advances in medicine and a growing market base, accurate and well documented communication is required. A study done on care delivery in the United States found that over $12 billion were lost in revenue due to ineffective and inefficient communication among healthcare providers (Economic Impact). Since then, the medical communications space has grown to a market share of almost $2.8 billion and is expected to grow up to 19.75% by 2026 (Business Wire).
With the recent pandemic and many providers switching to telemedicine, there has been an uptake in patients seeking medical content from the internet. Patients also have a greater access to medical information they have ever before, even right in and on their hands with wearable devices that display medical information, and phones and apps with unlimited content available. The future of medical communications is evolving at a breakneck speed, and the opportunities available to those in the medical communications space is expanding daily.