Colin Forsyth ’15 wins international health care communication awards
How do you convince doctors that the first FDA-approved medicine made with CBD—an active ingredient derived from marijuana—is the real deal?
Traditional pamphlets and printouts just wouldn’t do, Colin Forsyth ’15 realized.
Instead, Forsyth and his team at The Bloc, a full-service health creative agency, launched a virtual reality experience that takes physicians inside the meticulous manufacturing process for Epidiolex, a highly purified, clinically tested oral medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
Donning VR glasses, doctors can see every step of the manufacturing process—“from greenhouse to lab to bottle”—and meet the patients who are benefiting from the medication, like 4-year-old Grace, who was having 400 seizures a day, which dropped to single digits on the medication.
The project was recently honored with an international health care communication award, the Creative Floor Award for best use of technology. Forsyth, an art supervisor at the independent agency, wasn’t surprised the project won. But he was surprised to be named “Best Young Talent” at the same award show for a pro bono project aimed at helping people with dementia.
“I’ve only been in the industry for a couple of years, so I was very humbled,” he said.
Forsyth majored in art at Conn and earned a certificate from the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology. After graduation, he worked for a social media startup that eventually went out of business, then for a smaller design studio.
“I was living in New York City and trying to make my way as a designer. I told myself, ‘Whatever I do, I should help people in some way,’” Forsyth said.
That’s when he found The Bloc. The company’s motto, “Be great to do good,” resonated with Forsyth, despite the fact that he knew very little about the health care industry.
“I knew I could contribute something different; that distilling lofty scientific problems into something I could understand would be beneficial, because if I can’t understand it, the audience can’t either,” he said.
While Forsyth never imagined he would be using his skills to showcase human genome sequencing technology and CBD medications, he has found in health care communications a niche market for innovative creative design.
“It’s about tapping into human emotion and empathy,” he said.
In addition to client-based work, The Bloc challenges its employees to think creatively about ways to solve virtually any health problem. Once a month, the company hosts a pitch competition for ideas like “Memories for Memory Loss,” Forsyth’s pro bono partnership with Tribute, a platform that allows users to easily create video montages.
The service is marketed as a unique gift for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and graduations. Users can invite friends and relatives all over the world to make a video for the recipient, and Tribute compiles them into personalized montages.
“I thought, ‘This could be a health product,’” Forsyth said. “For people with dementia, watching loved ones share memories can help them live in the moment and not feel so isolated.”
Forsyth partnered with Tribute to create a special version of the platform tailored to the dementia community, then launched the product with video of a family revealing their Memories for Memory Loss tribute to their elderly father with dementia.
“It was extremely moving. He would hear one memory, and it would trigger something else that the family hadn’t heard him recollect in years,” Forsyth said.
The campaign was extremely successful, with social media click-through rates far exceeding initial expectations.
“We are arming caregivers with a way to reconnect with their loved ones,” Forsyth said. “When you are really passionate about the work, the results will follow.”