Archive for the 'Healthcare reform' Category


Healthcare Marketing Predictions for 2013

X_Ray_Heart_by_mmattes_GreenBlack1With the major healthcare reform provisions slated to take effect in 2014, less than 13 months away, Weise Communications believes 2013 will be a year of preparing for those changes to occur. As we have spent the last year with physicians, medical practitioners, highly publicized medical facilities and budding health and wellness entrepreneurs, we have compiled our list of healthcare marketing predictions for 2013.

Physicians and medical professionals will embrace technology to enhance the patient experience. We foresee software as a service (SaaS) combining with platform as a service (PaaS) to provide cloud-based solutions that will enhance EMR and patient communications.

Consumers are abandoning PC/desktop computers, the entire medical community will need to adapt to tablets and mobile. 2013 will be the year that the luxury of a mobile optimized website will no longer be optional.

HIPAA for mobile will be a massive concern for 2013, so EMR costs will continue to rise. Mobile will be an extraordinary opportunity for marketers in 2013.

More than ever before, patients are becoming advocates for their own health and wellness. They are relying on sources like WebMD and Everyday Health for information. Also, they are using social media for validation and referrals. There will be more pressure on medical facilities to embrace social media to ensure accurate information is being delivered from a reputable source.

Franchising and licensing will continue to be a business model that ensures affordable and accessible healthcare treatment options. It will also provide an alternative to the increasing amount of government involvement in the healthcare decision-making process.

Let us know your healthcare marketing prediction for 2013, and we’ll plan on discussing how accurate we are at SHSMD 2013 in Chicago. Share your thoughts with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.



Top Ten Things We Learned at SHSMD2011

Attendees of SHSMD2011 are all dealing with re-entry work, attempting to sync their Poken and evaluating to-do lists based on the SHSMD conference. While everyone will have their personal take-aways, Jay Weise and I developed a top ten list of things we heard and learned in Phoenix.

1. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes provisions about IRS oversight of requirements that nonprofit healthcare providers must meet in order to maintain their tax-exempt status. Nonprofit organizations are seeking assistance to track community benefit programs and keep it in a format approved by the IRS. This is an opportunity for the right company.

2. HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is a national survey that asks patients about their experiences during a recent hospital stay.  When will the general public adopt HCAHPS as criteria they use to select a hospital? Unfortunately, there is a lot of focus by hospital administration on these scores, but no evidence that a patient is using it in the hospital selection process.

3. The new buzzword, ‘Patient Experience’ Not patient-centered, not patient-centric, not patient-focused…Patient Experience.  This is intended to represent the totality of the interactions and perceptions of interactions between the patient and the health care facility. Patients with a more favorable experience are more likely to adhere to treatment protocol, have a positive outcome and provide favorable recommendations to others.

4. A big question from the conference: is government mandated health care constitutional? When will a ruling that provides certainty occur? How much legislative change will occur to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act prior to the large provisions taking effect in 2014?

5. From Michael Sachs’ keynote presentation on Friday, Constitutionality ruling on healthcare reform will not affect the macro trends in the healthcare industry.

6. Hospitals are waiting for someone to figure out a strategy for Accredited Care Organizations (ACO’s) before they adopt it. Right now there is too much uncertainty and confusion. ACO’s are too far away from current Key Performance Indicators.

7. From Jeff Bauer’s keynote presentation on Saturday, “By 2020, there will be more people living in the United States under 18 that were born outside the U.S. than were born inside the U.S.” The impact on medical treatments will be far-reaching. For example, men of Korean descent do not have the genetic enzyme to process the anti-depression drug, serotonin. How will this effect care, drug protocols, pharmaceutical company focus and online information?

8. Marketing strategist in healthcare organizations are the only people in the organization that can bring the customers point of view to strategy. Hospital Administrators are counting on the marketing strategist voice. Marketers need to speak up.

9. Healthcare marketers must consider the system of care is not inside the hospital walls, it is outside of it. Healthcare marketing strategists must take the leadership position and consider all entry points including: the website, community events, referral lines, physician offices, etc.

10. Integration across multiple platforms of data and across functional areas within a medical facility must occur to provide value to patients. The cost-efficiencies will be mandated in health care reform and are essential in a competitive environment.

Maybe we should have called this a top fourteen list because we have to include some of our favorite quotes:

“Patients fear rude doctors and nurses more than death.” – Colleen Sweeney, Director of Innovation, Ambassador, and Customer Services,
Memorial Health System, South Bend, IN

“HIPAA is the mullet of patient safety, your data is not as protected as you think.” – David McDonald, CEO, True North Custom Media, Chattanooga, TN

“Be realistic when setting Facebook goals for any hospital. Who really wants to LIKE a hospital?” – Dean Browell, Executive Vice President, Feedback, Richmond, VA

“The FDA has rejected many new cancer drugs because they were tested on the wrong kinds of cancer.” – Jeffrey C. (Jeff) Bauer, Ph.D. Health Futurist and Medical Economist, Chicago, IL

Want to find out more about what we learned at SHSMD 2011? Give us a call. Want to add to this list, share your thoughts here or on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow us on Twitter at @Weise_Ideas.


5 Ways to Get the Media to Pick Up Your Story – Part 1 of 3

Please welcome guest blogger, healthcare communications professional Rachel Brand who will bring The Side Note a series of three blogs for the next three weeks on health care public relations.

Do you want to write more compelling press releases and earn more coverage?

You should. Health care is ripe with dramatic medical rescues, fascinating technology, unsung heroes and stirring ethical debates. But these stories often don’t get told. That’s because pr pros are writing leads like this:


The new health insurance plan, authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is designed to provide coverage to uninsured individuals who have been denied health insurance or been offered only unaffordable options.

Sure, it’s important. But is it interesting? And – will it drive coverage?

1. Lead with the impact

For your next lede, ask yourself out loud, “what does it mean to the man in the green pick-up truck?” You can see him, across the park under the tree, sitting in his rusty forest green truck.

In other words, how does your news benefit, effect or change the lives of real people?

How about:

Thousands of uninsured Americans, desperate for healthcare coverage because they are chronically ill, can now see a doctor thanks to a new federally funded health insurance plan.

But what if your program doesn’t have any direct impact on people, at least not yet? Then…

2. Lead with people

Whether you are promoting a walk to fight cancer, a rally for homelessness, or the appointment of new CEO of your hospital, find a person and tell his or her story. Better, yet, tell the story of an important person in an unusual way.

Typical CEO appointment releases have headlines/first paragraphs like this:


(Anytown, USA) Lawrence Leader, currently the COO of St. Elizabeth’s Regional Hospital, has been appointed CEO of the hospital. He takes over as current CEO Marcy Mercy retires after a long and distinguished career.

But what if you took a half hour to find out Larry’s story?

The results might be:


(Anytown, USA) Larry Leader’s mother, a first-grade schoolteacher in Moline, IL, used to count out coins from her wallet each Saturday morning before grocery shopping. Rarely was there extra to buy candy.

Poor but strong-willed Florence Leader pushed her children to go to college. Larry, the youngest of five, enrolled as an Army medic to pay for it. …

The moral of the story? Writing a compelling press release that leads with the impact or leads with people is a better way to get the media to notice your press release.

(Continued next week)

Rachel Brand is a healthcare communications professional who can teach writing over brown bag lunches at your company. Contact her at rachel (at)


Hospital Marketers Have a Lot to Say… Great Insights from SHSMD

Attendees of SHSMD are all back to work and have had several days to toss collateral they don’t need, determine who to connect with on LinkedIn and begin evaluating to-do lists based on the SHSMD conference. While everyone will their personal take-aways, Mark Plumb and I developed a top list of things we heard and learned in Chicago.

We look forward to continuing discussions we began with many of the attendees of both the standard conference and the Senior Symposium. And we look forward to seeing everyone again next year. Attendees should be sure to to visit our web page for insightful white papers,

Until then, enjoy …

Top Ten from SHSMD 2010

  1. Health care reform scares everyone. And the reasons are justified:  General consensus is that regardless of what hospitals and health care organizations do now to prepare for health care reform, what they do now will be in vain. Yet, they still have to something.  The government is moving risks to hospitals, which means hospitals will require scale to absorb risks in the new environment.  The legislative health care reform of 2010 will look little like the reality of health care reform in 2014.
  2. Hospital marketers need to learn about ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations). No one really understands ACOs. The legislation is fuzzy, the information is lacking and the issues are overwhelming. The learning process should be fun and exciting.
  3. Take a lesson from Henry Ford Health System CEO, Nancy Schlichting, if you don’t want to worry about unions in your hospitals, you need to pay more attention to the employees in your hospitals.
  4. Forget 3G in the Chicago Hyatt. Ever tried to communicate via 0G?  When a conference “goes mobile,” mobile access is needed.
  5. Hospitals that fear social media are missing big opportunities to connect with their community and seem to miss the fact that there is no escaping from the prevalence of online communications. Learn to embrace it. Social media can be (and for some it is) a cornerstone for any hospital marketing plan. Use social media it to connect, to promote and to drive business.
  6. According to Dr. Paul Zak, Claremont University, Brain produces Oxytocin when active in social media. This is the same ‘happiness’ chemical the brain produces when you eat chocolate. Which means social media is mmmm…. good.
  7. Resurrection Healthcare President and CEO Sandra Bruce, believes hospital marketing departments need to know more about health care reform than any other department in the hospital. In fact, marketing departments need to know more about health care reform than hospital CEOs. How much does your marketing department know about health care reform?
  8. When your legs are as long as the Mississippi, you need clothes that cover the delta.
  9. County hospitals are an endangered species. See 1b for further explanation.
  10. If hospital CEOs want to have empathy for their consumers they should take some time to clean bedpans and hang out at nurses stations.

Want to find out more about what we learned at SHSMD 2010? Give us a call. Want to add to this list – let us know what your top takeaways were!


Despite propaganda allegations, agency hired to promote government platform.

In a recent article published in ProPublica, written by Sebastian Jones and Michael Grabell, federal stimulus money is being used to promote the safety of electronic medical records and help curve some of the resistance toward the use of information technology systems.  According to the article, the contract was said to be awarded to the PR giant, Ketchum Inc., by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The question raised in the article, however, was it a good PR move to hire Ketchum? According to the article,

“Consumer advocates warned that the PR contract will only heighten skepticism about the security of online health records. A poll conducted last year by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that roughly six in 10 Americans lack confidence in the privacy of online health records.”

“The public has always been very suspicious over whether electronic health information will be safe,” said Dr. Deborah C. Peel, a physician and founder of the Coalition for Patient Privacy, which includes consumer, privacy and health groups. Peel called Ketchum a “very, very troubling choice because the last thing the public needs are more tricks being pulled on them.”

The “tricks” Peel refers to included (in my opinion) legitimate PR tactics as well as those that overstepped bounds and were (in my opinion) totally inappropriate.

I believe hiring a PR firm for was a good decision by HHS. PR firms have the ability to get a message out to the public in a manner they will hear and understand.

Not only do I believe that electronic medical records are necessary from a patient safety standpoint, but a virtual requirement to help decrease the ever expanding costs of

Sample Electronic Medical Record - Image Credit to Wikipedia

healthcare. Healthcare reform passing or not, when someone gets multiple CT scans from multiple providers because individual doctors cant get the previous scan results, or don’t even know that a CT had recently been performed, healthcare costs will continue to rise.  And if Ketchum is allowed to do what Ketchum does best, this message will get out to the public loud and clear.

I am concerned, however, with this agency selection. Hiring a PR firm that brings with it accusations of “covert propaganda” to spread the word about a government initiative, and paying for it with stimulus funds, has its own concerns. Combine these concerns with the heated emotions and the current partisan environment in DC, is going to bring with it a set of issues that could potentially discredit the message, discredit the president, discredit the governmental agency, and ultimately hurt the agency.

Only time will tell.

Considering Ketchum’s previous controversies, was hiring this agency a good PR move to make? Or, based on the credible and effective work Ketchum can do, will the issues really matter?  Let us know what you think.


Bad British humor – health related advertising “alienates” its target market

Those darn Brits. These days THEY don’t even get their own humor. In an article posted by the Evening Post, a health club in the UK designed and posted a campaign using aliens to drive people into their gym. The message on the billboard that is the center of attention has a big green alien on the side and reads:

Advanced Health Warning: When the aliens come they will eat the fatties first.

Unfortunately the copywriters involved in the campaign don’t know much about healthcare marketing. The sign was offensive to many, regardless of the tongue and cheek tone that was intended by the client. Individuals interviewed for the article responded with shock and repulse to the advertisement describing it as “offensive,” “tacky,” “patronizing” and “unfortunate.”

People participate in health programs because they are motivated to make healthy decisions, not because they are scared. We have seen that scare tactics rarely work in a world where “it won’t happen to me.” And if your audience, like the health club’s, is people who have just put on a few extra pounds during the holiday season, calling them “fatties” will only (excuse the pun) alienate them.

So the advertising sucked. But I want to give credit to the reporter who included one of the most, um, interesting quotes I have recently seen:

“The people who came up with this idea and sanctioned the advert need a good stiff kick up the backside, and if that backside is a rather bony one, then they will feel this all the more.”

Will this eloquent journalism save the newspaper industry? One can only hope.


Healthcare reform ads take center stage

Our president, Tracy Weise, was recently quoted in an article on the HealthLeaders Media Web site. The article was focused on answering the question, “Is there a healthcare reform ad that will resonate with the public?” We encourage you to read the full article here.



Limit Advertising Spent on Prescription Drugs?

I just read the New York Times article, Lawmakers Seek to Curb Drug Commercials.

As a healthcare marketer, I believe that there should be some limits on direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs, but I also believe many of those limits are already in place. I disagree with the politicians’ assessment that these ads push people to use drugs unnecessarily or buy name brands rather than generics.

Prescription drugs are just what their name implies, prescription required.  While it is the marketer’s job to present information on drugs and their benefits to the public, it is a physician’s job to explain the pros and cons of any drug, the alternatives to the drug and provide the prescription if/when warranted.  Physicians may not enjoy the demands from their patients that are provoked by drug commercials, but it can’t be any worse than constant self-diagnosis based on the wealth of medical information available on the Internet. Consumers have a right to drug information and have the ability to make decisions on their medical needs. Physicians have the responsibility to guide them in those decisions.

I am also a proponent of drug-based advertising because it can increase the treatments for conditions that individuals may ignore. I am sure that many men and women have seen an ad for a drug that pushed them to receive treatment for something they were previously too embarrassed to discuss, such as erectile dysfunction or bladder control.

I do recognize the criticism from some lawmakers on the money spent for national consumer ads, especially when you see ads such as the Brooke Shields advertisement for Latisse, a prescription treatment for eyelash growth. While I am sure many people can benefit from this product, on the surface, the advertisement does seem slightly trivial.

What do you think? As a healthcare marketer, are you for more limits on direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertisements?


Harry and Louise, Still Talking About Healthcare

Harry and Louise are iconic figures in the world of healthcare policy advertising. These two actors have played numerous roles in policy ads for more than a decade. Most notoriously, they helped derail the healthcare system overhaul proposed under Bill Clinton. And now they are back, but with a different message. This time Harry and Louis are pushing a message promoting the healthcare overhaul proposed by President Obama.

This situation brings up mixed emotions in me. From an advertising point of view, the fact that the two same actors, still in their same roles, continue to be advocates for or against a healthcare issue is fascinating, especially since they have a different message this time.

But will it matter? Does anyone care that these same two paid actors are still talking about healthcare reform, albeit with a different message? Will we listen to them again?

The ads, sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, debuted this past weekend at the same time news reports came trickling out with dissension among politicians. It remains to be seen what will happen, but I am skeptical Harry and Louise’ message will be heard as loudly as it did in the past. With the proliferation of online media sources, I wonder if the ads will have the same effect this time around.

To be honest, I don’t like the Harry and Louise ads. I didn’t like the ones that ran against the healthcare reform measures in 1993 and 1994 either. While the message is different, in both instances the ads are clearly short on facts, substance and consequences. Of course, such is the way of political and policy advertising. And while I strongly support and believe the benefits of both advertising and public relations, I am hoping that through public relations we can get better information on the healthcare reform topic than the Harry and Louise ads are providing.

What do you think? Do Harry and Louise still wield influence?

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