Random Rambling

An Early Health Communicator

It is interesting to look at the path we follow in our lives. Lately I’ve been more introspective than usual. That’s probably what led me to write this blog post. For the last 30 years I’ve followed a path that led me to healthcare marketing. It is a career that I am proud of and enjoy. Being a health communicator is also part of a family legacy.

My father, who was a pioneer in public broadcasting, was a producer/director at WOI-TV of Iowa State College, the very first educational television station in the nation. While working at WOI, he directed health programming, including a program called “In Our Care.” The show featured long-form interviews with physicians who addressed complex health issues of the day. This was 1952! Below is a short clip from one episode of “In Our Care.” It features a neurosurgeon discussing cerebral palsy.

My dad was also an instrumental player in one of the first telehealth initiatives in the nation as an Incorporator of the Maine Regional Medical Program from 1964 – 1968.  (I discovered this on an old copy of his resume and was able to ask him about it while he was still living.)

In February 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson delivered his health message to Congress announcing the establishment of a Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke. In December 1964, the Commission prepared a report, “A National Program to Conquer Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke.” The report recommended instituting cooperative arrangements at the regional level, to make the latest advances from biomedical research available to benefit the health of the American people. That led to the development of the Maine Regional Medical Program.

In Maine, the Regional Medical Program initiated a study that looked into the potential for  linking community hospitals with referral centers by way of Data Phone, visual display by scope monitoring, and a private “hot-line” for voice communication (the hot technologies of the day). This program would ideally link 56 hospitals in Maine to academic medical centers in Boston. As the general manager of Maine Educational Television, my dad help to drive the technology and telecommunications pieces of this program. The group would later receive a grant from Maine Heart Association to implement coronary care data-phone feasibility study.

Overall, the members of the Maine Regional Medical Program were exploring new methods for delivering medical care in rural areas, including data-phones and interactive television (teleconferencing). One of their lead programs was a coronary care program that linked 20 community hospitals to the latest advances in diagnosis and treatment for people with coronary artery disease. The hospitals were linked by remote monitoring methods (using communications media) to referral areas where expert consultation were made available on a 24-hour basis. The program also featured a visiting guest resident program that brought 16 senior residents or fellows from Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston to Maine to serve in 8 community hospitals for a total of 17 weeks.

So you see, I’m not the first health communicator in my family. Nor am I the first to push the benefits of new technology on the industry! And, it appears, that I’m not the first to work in partnership with Tufts Medical Center. Crazy.


2 comments on “An Early Health Communicator

  1. Dan–the YouTube video is classified as private.

  2. dandunlop

    Thanks Rod. I’ll go into YouTube and check it out.

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