In 2017, Ireland had the worst access to new and innovative medicines compared to any other country in Western Europe due to delays in the Irish health system. MS is the most common neurological disease of young adults in Ireland affecting the motor, sensory and cognitive functioning of the body. Due to access delays, people with MS in Ireland are waiting for life-changing medicines that people in other European countries can already access.
The MSunderstood Café gave customers a unique taste of the daily challenges faced by people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Everything in the experiential pop-up Café was designed to mimic the symptoms of MS, creating a challenging – and often disorientating – experience. Hidden cameras captured customers’ reactions to items such as blurred menu boards, unsteady floors, and heavy furniture. The ultimate aim was to raise awareness and understanding of MS, and to open a dialogue with policy makers about the need for improved access to medicine in Ireland. As customers left, they were given information on MS and encouraged to visit PatientsDeserveBetter.ie to contact government representatives and demand speedier access to life-changing treatment. The campaign had a reach of over 13 million, through traditional and social media and resulted in 12 parliamentary questions about improving access to MS treatment in the four weeks directly after the activation.
- Widespread coverage was secured across national and regional print, broadcast and online media, covering the key messages and call to action
- The MSunderstood Café video was viewed and shared via PatientsDeserveBetter.ie, MS Ireland’s social platforms, media and social outlets
- Visitors to PatientsDeserveBetter.ie contacted their local politicians which led to 12 parliamentary questions about improving access to MS treatment in one month
- Minister for Health agreed a date to meet with MS Ireland to discuss access
- Feedback from customers confirmed it resonated strongly and understanding of MS increased
- Social media conversations reflected the need for change and the positive reaction from People with MS and all those who visited the Café
- Successfully announced Roche as a leader in neurology in Ireland and its commitment to supporting patients
To further enhance the reach of the initiative, and add longevity, the MSunderstood Café was converted into a bus to reach a wider audience via a roadshow. The MSunderstood Café Roadshow has now travelled to various cities across Europe, supported by members of the national patient organisations at each location.