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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Radical_RemissionPhotoWhile I was flying to and from Fort Lauderdale this week for strategy meetings with the folks at Spirit of Women, I read Kelly Turner’s book Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds. Several people recommended the book to me, knowing my interest in health and healthcare. Foremost among them was my sister Kerry, who is living with advanced ovarian cancer. Kerry, who also loved Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips (Kris Carr), said that Turner’s book is a must read. I love to read and always want to know more about what patients are reading and experiencing, so I ordered the book. While I was waiting for the book to arrive I coincidentally heard Kelly Turner interviewed on NPR – I believe she was a guest on Joe and Terry Graedon’s show, The People’s Pharmacy. In the interview Turner did a nice job being balanced and reasonable in her messaging. It made me even more interested in reading her book.

Kelly Turner, Ph.D., studied more than a thousand cases of “radical remission,” where people overcame cancer against all odds. Within her study she noticed nine factors or lifestyle changes (my language) that were common in most of these cases, in varying combinations:

  • Radically changing your diet
  • Taking control of your health
  • Following your intuition
  • Using herbs and supplements
  • Releasing suppressed emotions
  • Increasing positive emotions
  • Embracing social support
  • Deepening your spiritual connection
  • Having strong reasons for living (beyond not wanting to die)

I’ve been around cancer enough in my life, and around people living with cancer, to be familiar with the rationale behind each of these factors. In that regard, Turner’s book and its revelations were not surprising. However, it was nice to see one researcher bring together all of these factors into a single text – empowering individuals with lifestyle changes they can make to get themselves back in some kind of body/mind/spirit balance. She also does a nice job of storytelling – sharing case studies. By putting connecting a human face to each of these factors, they seemed to have more weight. This wasn’t just a report; these are real human stories and outcomes. By the way, at the end of the book, she mentions that a tenth factor should be EXERCISE, but its importance in her study was diminished because most of the patients she studied with advanced cancer were too ill for exercise to be a major factor in their recovery.

It is important to note that Turner doesn’t recommend turning away from traditional cancer treatment options. In fact, she mentions cases where the patient underwent conventional treatment while also making lifestyle modifications that come more from the world of complementary or integrative medicine. However, some patients, in the stories she shares, did get frustrated with conventional treatments and abandoned them altogether – either due to a lack of results, medicine had gone as far as it could go, or because of the harsh impact of the conventional treatments on their bodies. Facing advance cancer, these individuals turned to some combination of the nine factors and eventually found a path to radical remission.

For those who have a cancer diagnosis and for those of us who know someone who has cancer, this is a potentially important book. It provides hope. Not false hope. But the kind of hope that comes from access to new knowledge. In this case, it is knowledge about how focusing on your body, mind and spirit can bring about the possibility of incredible healing. Conversely, there are lessons to be learned about how stress, negative emotions, poor diet and the like can be impediments to good health, creating imbalances that invite illness.

I enjoyed reading Kelly Turner’s book and recommend it. For someone looking for answers, this book should be among the materials they review. Assuredly, it will not be the only thing they read.



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