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Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a keynote presentation by ZDOGGMD, aka, Dr. Zubin Damania. ZDOGGMD is a persona that Dr. Damania adopted to present his engaging style of health education. Today, Dr. Damania is CEO and Founder of Las Vegas based Turntable Health – a new health clinic/concept located in and part of Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project. Tony Hsieh is the founder of Zappos and he actively recruited Damania to Las Vegas.

ZDOGGMD’s presentation at the AAMC GIA Conference yesterday was one of the most entertaining and impactful keynotes I have witnessed in my 20 years attending healthcare conferences. His performance and his message were brilliant. Although ZDOGGMD may be known for his crazy videos (crazy effective), what impressed me was hearing about the work he and his team are doing at Turntable Health. His focus is on serving humanity and improving health. In Las Vegas he’s doing it with “a membership-based primary care and wellness ecosystem focused on everything that keeps people healthy.” Patients pay a flat monthly fee of $80 ($60 for kids) and they’re in. If you’re not familiar with the work they’re doing, I recommend you visit their website and learn more. Here’s a video from Dr. Damania that tells the Turntable Story.

Finally, here are a couple of YouTube videos from the ZDOGGMD archive. Enjoy!

This is me when I was 5 years old. The image is a square from a family quilt my mother made. Each square depicted a scene involving at lest one of her 5 children.

This is me when I was 5 years old. The image is a square from a family quilt my mother made. Each square depicted a scene involving at least one of her 5 children. I’m running with my dog, Dandelion.

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of the Dark Knight. I’ve been captivated by the legend of Batman since I was a small child. Although the Dark Knight is a psychologically complex character, he did impart a few important lessons that I have carried with me into my professional life.

  1. The Utility Belt – Batman was a lover of science and technology. The Batcave was essentially a science lab where new crime fighting technologies were always under development. At just the right time, Batman would pull a prototype of some new device out of his utility belt, and use it to take down another arch villain. Unlike other crime fighters of the era, Batman was unwilling to simply rely on old technology. He pushed forward, always looking for new tools that would help him do his job more efficiently. This is a lesson the best healthcare marketers and communicators have come to embrace.
  2. The Bat Signal & the Bat Phone – The Caped Crusader understood that his clients (the Gotham City Police Department and Commissioner Gordon) needed ready access to him. When a crisis struck Gotham City, time was always of the essence. So Batman developed a number of ways that he could be contacted in the event of an emergency. It wasn’t enough to have the Bat Phone (a direct line to the Batcave, Wayne Manor and Batmobile); Batman also developed the Bat Signal, an alternative form of communication that would allow him to respond immediately to client calls for help. Batman, like many of you, understood the importance of good communication and accessibility. (He would have loved the immediacy of texting.) With social media and digital technology, we now live in a 7-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day world. So we need to be connected and available at a moment’s notice. That’s why this healthcare marketer doesn’t go anywhere without his trusty iPhone! It is important to remember that good communication is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The best solution or combination of solutions is whatever works to the target audience – client, co-worker or consumer. Whether it is email, text, phone or Bat signal, it is up to us to choose the tools that get the job done.
  3. Robin, Alfred and Bat Girl – Batman understood that in crime fighting you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. That is certainly the case in healthcare marketing. You can talk about technology and new media all you want, but in the end, it comes down to the people in your organization – their expertise and their commitment. So I ask, do you have a Boy Wonder on your team? Do you have an Alfred operating behind the scenes, digging up consumer insights or managing online communities?
  4. From Vigilante Crime Fighter to Millionaire PlayboyThe Struggle for Work-Life Balance – Although Batman never really came to terms with this, he did strive for work-life balance, primarily at the urging of his personal valet, Alfred. Batman juggled a busy social life as a millionaire industrialist, playboy (eligible bachelor) and one of Gotham City’s leading philanthropists. Sure, his work was the priority, and he admitted having an unhealthy obsession with taking down the bad guys. He was self-aware and, in his defense, was not yet encumbered by the responsibilities that come with being a family-man. The lesson here is that he was not one dimensional in his life. Remember, “all work and no play make Bruce Wayne a dull boy.” The same is true for healthcare marketers. Being one dimensional makes you a less effective marketer. Get out there and experience life. Step away from your laptop and go for a hike or attend a concert. You’ll return to your work revitalized.Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 8.46.15 AM
  5. The Joker, The Riddler, Catwoman, The Penguin – In Gotham City, villains came in all shapes and sizes. And they kept coming. No sooner would Batman and Robin vanquish one evil-doer, than another would begin wreaking havoc. Batman learned early on that it would be no small task to rid Gotham City of the criminal element, and he would need to be patient and persevere in the face of incredible and often unforeseen challenges. Doesn’t this sound like the healthcare environment of 2014? You face challenges inside and outside of your organization. In the spirit of the Dark Knight, keep pushing forward. Don’t let obstacles keep you from pursuing what you know is right.
  6. The Wayne Foundation – Philanthropy and Giving Back to the Community – As I mentioned earlier, Bruce Wayne was philanthropist who ran the Wayne Foundation, a charity for helping victims of crimes. This philanthropic activity, along with his obsession with tracking down the criminal element, was inspired by the murder of both of his parents. The Wayne Foundation supported Gotham’s many soup kitchens and funded research that would ultimately be used to address the city’s many social problems. Batman, aka Bruce Wayne, was committed to improving his community through his philanthropy and through his direct action. As professionals working in healthcare, the link between the communities we serve and our organizations is apparent. We often work for the largest employer in the region and an important driver of the local economy. Community relations and giving back to the community are important themes in our business. They allow us to build up equity for our hospital brands in the event we need to cash in that equity on a rainy day. The goodwill from community involvement also makes it easier to pursue new initiatives with the support of local constituents. As I’ve written many times, the theme of community should be an integral part of everything we do as healthcare marketers.
  7. The Bat Signal – Batman understood the Power of Brand. Think of the Bat logo and Batman’s well-established visual brand identity. Think of the iconic black and gold colors. The logo itself has evolved over the years to stay relevant to the times; but the essence of the brand has remained consistent. There was visual brand consistency as you moved from the Batmobile to Batplane to Batsuit. There are two important lessons here: 1. Brand consistency across all platforms is a great asset to the organization, and 2. We should not be afraid to let our visual brand identity evolve over time. Great brands evolve as their communities evolve: think of Apple Computer and McDonald’s (see images below). In our business, we must be constantly vigilant, working to keep our communications and our brands relevant to our constituents. The appetites of consumers change over time and so must our marketing!

See you soon: same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel.

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The infographic was designed by Cathryn Laver from Calm the Ham.

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Brooke Hynes and I will be speaking at the AAMC GIA Professional Development Conference this Thursday in Salt Lake City. This is an interesting conference because it attracts many of the marketing, public affairs and communications professionals from med schools and teaching hospitals. I first spoke at the event in 2006 and have enjoyed returning over the years. This year’s conference is being held from Wednesday, March 26 through Saturday, March 29.

Our presentation is titled “Tuning In: Why Online Video is a Must for the Modern Academic Medical Center.” It is scheduled for Thursday, March 27 at 2 p.m. We’ll discuss the value of using online video to engage audiences. In additional to looking at some of the innovative uses of video within healthcare, we’ll review three case studies in which hospitals are using video to successfully engage key audiences.

Our message is that healthcare communication needs to offer value to the target audience – and it has been short on value in the past. Today’s connected consumer get to determine what she watches, when she watches it, and on what type of device. She is in control. And there are lots of options. It is up to us to develop communication that is relevant, engaging and that meets some fundamental need of the individual being targeted. That need could be emotional, informational or entertainment. It is our perspective that video is uniquely suited to addressing those needs and can package health information in a more appetizing form.

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Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 5.22.54 PMI love this TV spot from Age UK. Aging seems to be a theme on my blog of late. I blame the inspiration for this post on my co-worker, Rob Frasketi, who recently sent me a link to this amazing commercial. In our business, it is rare that we produce art. But this is art. And its message is powerful. It encourages everyone to embrace aging and seize the day. The narrative features a poem by acclaimed poet Roger McGough and is voiced by actor Sir Christopher Lee, a gentleman who knows something about aging at 92 years of age. McGough’s poem was written specifically for this campaign. (As background, Age UK’s mission is to inspire, enable and support older people to help people make the most of later life.) Now, tune out all distractions and enjoy the spot:

My favorite lines from this video:

“Time flies they say. But it’s us that fly. Time sits on its hands as we rush by. In the blink of an eye, the brush of a tear, you are old. But valued still. Welcome to the fold.”

For more inspiration, head for www.ageuk.org.uk/lovelaterlife


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Stanford University School of Medicine and online patient support community developer, Inspire.com, have produced a special report that is a powerful compilation of patient stories. I have long followed the patient stories that Inspire and Stanford have shared on Stanford Medicine’s SCOPE Blog. So I was excited to see that they have published this compilation titled “Experts by Experience.” As I’ve stated many times in the past, healthcare professionals, whether they are administrators, clinicians or marketers, will be better at what they do if they spend a little bit of time listening to patients. This report gives us that opportunity. I’m grateful to Stanford, Inspire.com and all of the patients included in this report, for sharing this content.

The report is embedded below. Here is a link to visit the report on SlideShare.

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The Tufts University School of Medicine’s 2014 Health Communication Summer Institute offers three courses critical to staying current with the field of health communication:

  • Mobile Health Design, a synchronous 5 week online course (May 21 – June 18, 2014)
  • Digital Strategies for Health Communication, a one week course delivered on our Health Sciences campus in Boston (July 20 – 25, 2014)
  • Health Literacy Institute, a one week course and professional forum also delivered on our Health Sciences campus (June 9 – 13, 2014)

For professionals seeking a more comprehensive experience, the Health Communication Program has just launched a new academic offering, the Certificate in Digital Health Communication. This program provides the foundational principles of health communication through a digital lens. Participants will learn how to create targeted health communication messaging and campaign development using digital media such as the web, social media, and mobile technologies. Designed for working professionals, the certificate can be completed on a part-time basis in one year, from summer to summer. The program starts with Digital Strategies for Health Communication in June and continues with two half credit courses in the fall, one full credit course in the spring and Mobile Health Design the following summer.

Here are what past participants have said:
“Taking the Digital Strategies course greatly expanded my knowledge and proficiency for using technology and social media in clinical research. From a dissemination standpoint, it is essential to incorporate the effective use of technology to develop a communication strategy, maintain a web and mobile presence, and successfully communicate with the patients and the research community. Thanks to the tools I learned in Digital Strategies, I am now able to effectively use technology to accomplish these goals. – Laurel K Leslie, MD, MPH, Tufts Medical Center Floating Hospital for Children

“[Digital Strategies for Health Communication] was the best professional development course I’ve been to. The following week I wrote part of a proposal based on what I learned; my company won that bid and I now lead online strategy for the project”.
-Zena Itani, Senior Policy Associate, Altarum Institute, Washington, DC

For more information or to enroll, visit the Health Communication Summer Institute page on the Tufts University School of Medicine website. Here is the link to the registration page. For registration questions, contact the Tufts Public Health and Professional Degree Programs Registrar, Janice Gilkes, at janice.gilkes@tufts.edu or (617) 636-0935.

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Both personally and professionally, I am very interested in development of online communities and services to support the growing number of caregivers in our society. It might be my age, but everywhere I turn it seems that someone is caring for an aging parent or chronically ill family member. For the last few years, three of my sisters have been pitching in to care for my elderly parents. It is an issue that is relevant to many of us. To that end, Fast Company recently ran an article about CareZone, a new site developed to help caregivers manage and coordinate the care of their loved ones. CareZone was co-founded by former Sun Microsystems chief executive, Jonathan Schwartz, and Walter Smith, a veteran of Apple and Microsoft.

On CareZone, you can create a profile for the individual you are caring for, and then you can invite other members of the circle of care to join the care team. Here’s how CareZone describes its service:

“CareZone simplifies the lives of those caring for children, partners and aging parents. We provide a simple and entirely private environment where family and helpers can stay organized and coordinated. CareZone’s cloud services help you organize and manage information on tablets, smartphones and computers, and stay connected to family and other helpers with whom you may share care responsibilities.” (Source: CareZone.com)

Privacy is an important theme for CareZone. The site does not accept advertising. The platform is HIPAA-compliant and communication between the user’s web browser and CareZone’s system is encrypted. To protect against accidental disclosure, they use government-standard AES encryption when data is at rest.

All that privacy means that members of CareZone should be able to safely share information about their loved ones. As you can see from the screenshot below, there are lots of ways members of the care team can collaborate. Caregivers can maintain a journal, a calendar with upcoming doctor’s appointments, an up-to-date list of medications, and an ongoing to-do list. Family members can also upload important files (medical reports) and photos that they want to share with the rest of the team.

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The idea of connecting members of the care group online is not new. In January 2011 I wrote about Family Care Network‘s Connected For Life technology. However, it appears that CareZone may have developed a platform that has the winning combination of ease-of-use, accessibility and appropriate functionality. It certainly seems to be the right offering at the right time. Check it out and let me know what you think.


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