Posts Tagged ‘healthcare marketing’

Telling a Story that Matters

By Daphne Swancutt

Stethoscope and books 300x200 Telling a Story that MattersHealthcare companies—or any companies, for that matter—working with communication agencies have probably heard this one a lot lately: Tell your story, and the people will come.


That’s like telling someone to build a bridge to nowhere. And, anyone who’s ever heard, read or told an enjoyable story knows or intuits two things: A good, resonant story has a 1) compelling voice that 2) makes a connection.

This is where most healthcare organizations today are falling flat. Your story isn’t your mission statement, it’s not about screaming brand from a mountaintop, and it sure isn’t a recitation of products and services.

As the commoditization of healthcare continues its grand ascent and the mandates of reform begin to materialize, it’s important for your company—and everyone with a stake in it—to step back, reconsider the idea of “story” and craft something that connects you to your audiences.

If you don’t get it right, it won’t matter. Here’s what you need to consider when developing your story. (more…)

By Jeff Smokler

Affordable Insurance Exchanges Communicating in the Era of Health Insurance ExchangesThe March 12 release of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) final rule on health insurance exchanges made one thing very clear: One size will not fit all.

The experience of a healthcare consumer in Maryland could be very different than one in neighboring Virginia. This makes sense, given the enormous variation in demographics across the nation.

As health insurance plans gear up to fight for their fair share of the millions of new customers expected to purchase coverage on the exchanges, their communications and marketing strategies will have to mirror the flexibility set forth in the HHS rule.

That said, there are a number of things that all health insurance plans need to consider as they formulate their marketing strategies. (more…)

By Daphne Swancutt

Updated Harris Interactive Logo 300x153 Healthy Behaviors Not Improving. Who’s Accountable?

A recent poll from IMRE conducted online by Harris Interactive reveals some sobering data. Bottom line: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

At the highest level, the survey shows that two-thirds of adult Americans admit they don’t live a healthy lifestyle all the time. The primary reasons aren’t surprising: Time, money, and that living a healthy lifestyle at all times is just not a priority.

Call them excuses, but it seems that despite a national push for greater attention to getting and staying healthy, increasing healthcare costs, and obesity and chronic disease epidemics that are sucking the life out of us, it’s just not resonating.

So, what can we do about it?

First, consider that this is—or will become—everyone’s problem. Whether you’re an individual, an employer, a school, a government organization or a nonprofit. Everyone needs to buy in to the fact that problems don’t fix themselves, people fix problems. This particular problem needs hoards of attentive and motivated people.

We’ve been in a collective conundrum about all of this for decades. Some argue that making individuals more accountable for healthy behaviors is key. Maybe. But what about the folks living hand-to-mouth, with language barriers, who sacrifice medical care for a trip to the grocery store or their children’s education? All the talk about making health a priority isn’t translating well to these groups, much less the groups living with fewer such challenges.

As a communicator, I am dumbfounded. If starting a national movement focused on motivating healthy behavior is truly a priority, we are failing. So, here’s my prescription:

Government: Get your rear-ends out of process perdition and come up with solutions that inspire, rather than endless tripping over administrative bureaucracy.

Employers: Give your people a break. We’re a national mess of stress, and we know about the outcomes. Stress leads to depression, leads to overeating, leads to lack of motivation, leads to little exercise, leads to diabetes, heart disease, etc.

Schools: Seriously, start talking to students the minute they enter the system about how important it is to be healthy, and everything they can do to make sure that they develop healthy behaviors. Give them the tools to educate their parents, too. Kids can actually do this. It’s like “teach your parents well.”

All others: If you’re not talking the talk, then start. If you’re talking the talk and not walking the walk, you’re part of the problem. Set an example, encourage, show your stuff and put your money (not junk food) where your mouths are.

As health communicators, we need to push harder for a seat at the big table. Then we need to advocate strongly for a more aggressive point of view, total engagement, messages that are delivered repeatedly in language that is understood, and action that truly motivates.

We’re at a crossroads here. Consider taking the road less traveled and bring some people along with you.

By Daphne Swancutt

It’s no easy pitch to suggest that pharmaceutical companies—many of whom are barely tepid about social marketing—need to get real. And, nothing screams louder for this than the move by pharma in to emerging—or pharmerging—markets.

glocial 300x300 Why Pharma Should Be Thinking ‘Glocial’

Conversations are global and, yes, health is social. In two of the most significant pharmerging markets, Russia and China, mobile and Internet use are astonishing.

Fifty-three percent of Russians use the Internet, and 80 percent of them own a mobile device. In China, nearly 320 million people use the Internet via their mobile devices. The numbers are also increasing in other emerging markets, such as Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, and India (where nearly 3 million are already using Google+), etc.

All of this presents a pretty compelling argument for pharmaceutical companies to gather themselves and start thinking globally about their social presence—or glocial presence. Which brings us back to the difficult pitch. With pharma notoriously flappable where social is concerned in the U.S. and Europe, it’s a stretch to think they’d embrace such uncharted territory in emerging markets.


By Kristi Betz

5154759016 87c711d983 b 225x300 Building Consumer Trust for Pharma

Here’s a reality check: 48 percent of Americans trust pharmaceutical companies less than they did five years ago. Ironically, 22 percent of Americans learn about medications from pharma-sponsored websites. Even more interesting is that 70 percent of consumers believe that pharmaceutical information from peers is credible, even if these peers aren’t experts.

There’s clearly something wrong with this picture. We all know that negative media coverage and misinformation have created a perception that pharmaceutical companies focus more on the bottom line and less on what’s best for the patient.  And despite recent efforts for transparency and the allocation of marketing dollars toward patient-centric initiatives, consumers still have not redeveloped the trust they once held for pharmaceutical companies.

Bottom line: Pharmaceutical companies have an opportunity—even a responsibility—to get serious about rebuilding consumer trust.

People trust people. People especially trust peers, particularly if they have a similar medical condition. Fifty-four percent of U.S. consumers now connect to others or to online content created by others regarding health issues. Social media has changed how we gather our information. Online resources, including advice from peers on social networks, are now a main resource for health information. And rebuilding trust means sharing valuable information with consumers that they will want to spread among others.

End the monologue. Conversation has to be two-way. Gaining consumer trust means understanding this and being willing to make some changes. It also requires understanding your audience’s challenges and connecting with what’s important. And, in an era where patients are becoming more “empowered” in their decision-making, transparency isn’t just important—it’s mandatory.

Beyond comfort zones. According to Pew, 80 percent of Internet users have looked online for health information, and more people are tapping in to mobile and social media. These are hard facts, and pharma knows this. Perceived barriers that include sluggish guidance from the FDA are not necessarily reason enough to continue within safe communication strategies. Plenty of pharmaceutical companies have stepped successfully out of their comfort zones.

Mobile Healthcare’s Big Bang

By Daphne Swancutt

Mobile Healthcare Mobile Healthcare’s Big BangA recent cover story in H&HN magazine proclaimed that mobile apps are reshaping and changing healthcare as we know it. Unfortunately, the proliferation of health and medical apps—17,000 currently, give or take a few—may not be all that quite yet.

On the consumer side, 26 percent of people who download health apps only use them once, and another third don’t even use them as intended, according to a recent Pew Internet Research Study.

It’s a quality issue, some say, in which interface and design are problems, and hasty development equals poor user experience and unsustainable engagement. Still, the mobile app bandwagon becomes ever more crowded, and it can be an expensive process.


By Daphne Swancutt

iStock 000010062821Small 300x225 Healthcare Needs Rx for Internal CommunicationsBy most accounts, 2011 will be the start of a watershed in the healthcare industry. From HIT spending, meaningful use and HIPAA 5010 and ICD-10, to ACOs, M&As and the demand by consumers for more sophisticated digital technologies.

Imagine the communication challenges. (more…)

We’re Back!

By healtheditor

It’s official. We’re now blogging at IMREHealthIQ. Stay tuned for expert content and continued industry insight.

You can subscribe to our new feed by RSS or by email. You can also follow us on Twitter at @IMREHealthIQ. For anyone who’s been following @HealthIntel, we haven’t changed the Twitter feed, just the name. You won’t have to re-follow under our new name.

Thanks for your patience!

By healtheditor

iStock 000002667412Small 200x300 Why So Silent on Mental Health Parity?The most profound change in mental health treatment is upon us. This major step forward in treating mental illness is on par with laws that challenged racial discrimination against the African American community in the 1950s, so says the president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Carol Bernstein.

It will allow more people to get treatment, provide better treatment, and go a long way toward eliminating stigma so prevalent in this area of medicine.

Yet, you certainly wouldn’t know we’re on the precipice of such fundamental change.


The Four P’s of Healthcare

By Daphne Swancutt

iStock 000008667320XSmall1 300x225 The Four Ps of HealthcareCall it a silly, useless curse. I get sucked in to trying to find patterns and connections anywhere I can. Most of them are silly and useless. Occasionally I find ones that actually make some sense, if only to me.

As a healthcare marketer who also geeks out on reform, genetics and the e-patient movement, I can’t help but try to wrap healthcare up into a single cohesive package of connection and meaning. That’s what marketers do.

So, when it comes to that monster and what it all means, where it starts, what’s important and how to condense it to its core—where the patterns and connections are—I see P’s. (more…)

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