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IMG_7239Whatever their particular area of need, people are seeking answers to their health questions and concerns. They are using online forums and in-person events. Some are looking for the fountain of youth, while others are simply looking for solutions not provided through their interactions with the medical establishment (traditional providers and provider organizations).

Last weekend my wife and I attended the Body, Mind, Spirit Expo in Raleigh, NC. It comes to town every six months and we always enjoy attending. The array of healing modalities represented by the vendors is amazing: reiki, massage, aroma therapy, psychic healing, hynotherapy and more.

I’ve always thought it would be interesting to have a hospital set up a booth to market its wellness program and/or integrative medicine offerings. In the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, Duke has a well established Integrative Medicine Program. Services include acupuncture, massage and bodywork, integrative nutrition and weight management, Yoga therapy, clinical hypnosis, mindfulness meditation, expressive art therapy, movement therapy, sand tray exploration, relaxation training, and guided imagery, among others. I would love to see an organization like Duke Medicine and its clinicians have a presence at these Body, Mind, Spirit Expos. It would be interesting to see how the organization would be received. These events attract a community of individuals who are open to holistic health and alternative therapies. From  my perspective, it would be great to reach out to them and introduce them to the academic medical center’s approach to integrative medicine. There’s a very real possibility that it might change the way people look at our hospitals and healthcare systems. In any event, it is clear to me that we can do more to reach out to this audience that seeks non-traditional approaches to health and wellness.

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Over the last few weeks I’ve seen an infomercial for Cancer Treatment Centers of America running Saturday mornings on Discovery Channel. It relies heavily on patient stories – a good strategy. I like the idea of being able to do the kind of long-form storytelling that this platform allows.

What do you think of using infomercials to market oncology services or any other service line? Bariatric surgery? I’m interested to hear your perspectives.

Recently my Jennings colleagues and I were given the opportunity to produce videos of a number of nurse practitioners who work at Signature Healthcare in Southeastern Massachusetts. We produce physician videos quite regularly and thoroughly enjoy the interaction with the doctors. However, I have to say, it was a ton of fun working with these nurse practitioners. It makes sense that we would showcase these clinicians given so many of us spend a lot of time with them when we make a visit to a physician’s office. These professionals are on the front line of primary care but are so often kept in the background. As the AANP says, “NPs are quickly becoming the health partner of choice for millions of Americans. As clinicians that blend clinical expertise in diagnosing and treating health conditions with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management, NPs bring a comprehensive perspective to health care.”

Note: One thing I learned in my research about NPs is that it is a mistake to call them “mid-level providers” or “physician extenders.” Check out this statement on the matter from the American Academy of Nurser Practitioners.

Today I am sharing three of the nurse practitioner videos we produced. These are really special people and they were so gracious with their time. I believe you will enjoy meeting them.

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This October, Spirit Health Group will be holding its Pelvic Health Conference in Chicago. If you work in women’s health and live in the Midwest, this is a great event. This will be my third time speaking at a Pelvic Health Event. Each time it has been an experience. The agenda is always packed with great content and accomplished presenters, while the Spirit Health Group staff works tirelessly to make it a positive experience from beginning to end.

I’ll be speaking on Wednesday, October 29th. My topic will be online community building and rethinking what we know about social media. You can learn more about the conference by clicking on this link. I hope to see you there.

Meanwhile, here are some of the areas covered by the conference curriculum:

  • Position your hospital for business growth across multiple service lines by identifying and meeting the unmet demand for pelvic health services.
  • Meet the increasing demands of accountable care and population health management with a comprehensive women’s health approach.
  • Develop an interdisciplinary approach to diagnostics, prevention and early intervention of pelvic health disorders.
  • Analyze your hospitals clinical resources in pelvic health and build consensus between physicians, nurses and executives.
  • Establish and maintain the clinical strengths of an outcomes-based women’s pelvic health service line or program.
  • Strategize the ideal complement of surgical, non-surgical and therapeutic interventions for the management of female pelvic floor disorders.
  • Implement ongoing education and communication platforms that raise awareness of treatment options, reduce social stigma and contribute to improved clinical and financial outcomes.

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It seems that whenever something good springs up out of the ether, the naysayers and pundits do their best to put it down. This has certainly been the case with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Click here and here for examples of the negativity. But let’s forget about them for a moment and allow me tell you why I love the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:

I didn’t have to go to some formal function or gala to make a significant donation to ALS. I was able to have fun and share the experience with my friends on Facebook. The promotion allowed me to be engaged without it being drudgery. Because of the participatory nature of this promotion, people got excited. My friends and colleagues got excited. They wanted to participate. And, in the end, it has raised a ton of money and awareness for ALS! In the future, donors are going to look for ways to be more involved with the causes they support. Donor engagement is becoming a very big deal. If a foundation can find a way to get me involved and to allow me to have fun while supporting the cause, then that is a win.

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 9.03.25 AMHere’s a link to an article in Forbes by Matthew Herper that takes on all of those people who think the Ice Bucket Challenge was silly or pointless: “Think The Ice Bucket Challenge Is Stupid? You’re Wrong.” Matthew addresses the criticism of the Ice Bucket Challenge, one point at a time. It is a well crafted article and well worth the read. Here’s a link to another positive article in The Guardian.

More of What I Love About the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Below is a video of Kim Hollon, the CEO of Signature Healthcare in southeastern Massachusetts. (In the spirit of full disclosure, Signature is one of my clients.) Kim was nominated to take the Ice Bucket Challenge and agreed to allow any employees who made a donation to ALS dump ice water on his head. Kim’s initiative raised more than $500 for ALS, and also delighted his staff. I estimate that more than 50 employees participated! They had tons of fun while raising money for a great cause. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 3.04.19 PMFor some time now I have been a member of the Digital Health group on LinkedIn. I’m one of 27,000 total members! The group’s founder and curator, Paul Sonnier, has recently launched a new video entitled “The Story of Digital Health.” (You can learn more about Paul here.) The video does a good job of introducing digital health and its many benefits. I applaud Paul for working to develop communications that help people better grasp the notion of digital health. Other than getting distracted by the misspelling of HIPAA, I found this to be a quality, albeit somewhat lengthy, piece. (The HIPAA/HIPPA typo is extremely common. In fact, there have been articles and blog posts written about it. Check out this post: “It’s HIPAA, not HIPPA!! Curing HIPAA & EHR spelling headaches for Health Care professionals.” And typos have been known to show up in my blog posts from time to time! So I am not immune to this problem.)

I invite you to check out the video below. You may find that it comes in handy the next time you need to explain digital health to a constituent (friend, neighbor, colleague, board member). Enjoy.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 2.56.20 PMOn September 25th I’ll be in St. Petersburg, Florida speaking to a regional healthcare marketing interest group that is part of the American Marketing Association (AMA). They’ve asked me to share my perspective on healthcare marketing as community building. I am going to ask the attendees to forget what they think they know about social media. So many organizations have deployed these “social” tools but are using them as platforms for pushing content at consumers (as we have done with traditional media) – rather than for engaging with and listening to these important constituents.

My message is that if these professionals were to look at marketing as community building, it would significantly change the way in which they use these digital channels. Frankly, it would change the way they do their jobs overall. These digital platforms that are ideal for two way communication. Yes, your content is important and members of these communities will value it, particularly if it is delivered within an environment where meaningful conversations are taking place and information is being exchanged. Within these platforms, it is up to the marketer to create an environment where visitors are comfortable sharing information, asking questions, and participating in conversations. That doesn’t happen regularly on most hospital Facebook pages.

The truth is that online community building is not an easy thing. It take nurturing and dedication. In my opinion, the online community manager role should be an essential function within a hospital’s marketing department. That is something new for most hospital marketing teams. But the world has changed and continues to change, and we must evolve to be relevant within the new healthcare ecosystem. Just as we now need to add professionals who are adept at analyzing data due to the growth of CRM programs and marketing automation, we also need to add professionals who are adept at facilitating and managing online conversations relevant to our organizations.

Anyway, enough preaching. I’ll save the rest for my presentation in Tampa!

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