Let’s Talk Healthcare

The best way to understand the impact of digital media is active, two-way participation. We welcome you to participate in our GCI Health blog and add to our conversation on the various trends and complex issues within healthcare communication.

Leading Thoughts

  • March 15, 2017
    • Comments Off on SXSW: Discussing a Doctor’s Dilemma, “To Tweet or Not to Tweet”

    SXSW: Discussing a Doctor’s Dilemma, “To Tweet or Not to Tweet”

    Guest post by Pauline Ma, Senior Digital Strategist

    An important part of putting patients at the center involves also considering the professional perspective. Social media has posed an interesting challenge to healthcare professionals and facilities overall, who, although they may recognize that it is “the place to be” to reach patient communities, still grapple with how to embrace what is seen as a high risk mode of communication.

    In a panel at SXSW 2017 titled “Doctoring Up Social Media Advocacy,” representatives from Baylor Scott & White Health and Mayo Clinic presented their team efforts to continue pushing the boundaries of HCP adoption of social media.

    Lee Aase, Director of Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN), shared that to incentivize its staff to become fluent in the compliant use of social media—while also recognizing the time constraints of physicians’ schedules— his team offers formal social media training that is available both via in-person workshops and online training; regardless of how training is completed, participants can receive CME (Continuing Medical Education) accreditation.

    Dr. Skye Clarke added her perspective as a physician on how to view the inherent risk involved with using social media, urging her peers to step outside of their comfort zones to embrace it and understand what levels of control are possible. “It’s about setting expectations- safe interactions can include sharing content, providing information… but direct dialogue with patients is where the risk really presents itself,” she said. Drawing an analogy between social media and participating in a radio interview, she added, “You can’t see the person at the other end of the line and you may not know exactly what is going on, but we need to be empowered to feel comfortable with this scenario.”

    Collectively, the panelists were honest in their view of how success for HCP social media usage tends to be different from what’s considered successful from a consumer/patient standpoint. Aase asserted that it’s natural to have engagement taper off, with peak engagement usually centering around a milestone event (such as a Twitter chat). Jacob Sloane, Director of Social Media for Baylor Scott & White Health, added that while patient-HCP interactions via social have limits, there is also a lot of interest from physicians to use social media as a means of connecting with their colleagues (HCP-HCP).

    Among the case studies discussed, Sloane disclosed that it took a year of preparation for Baylor to live tweet a heart transplant last year; recognizing the preparation required was just one step, but getting executive buy-in on this opportunity to break down barriers of how people view the transparency of healthcare institutions was another. Similarly, Mayo Clinic has featured the story of a face transplant patient on its social channels as a way to allow a patient who really wanted to tell his story to do so in an authentic way, in support of his sense of obligation to the patient community.

    While there’s still work to be done across networks of healthcare professionals to become better accustomed to social media usage, there is great opportunity. “What’s really changed is that it used to be that there was a lot of skepticism among physicians whether social media was worthwhile and whether to be involved… now, there continues to be movement in discussing how we should smartly, strategically use these tools.” As Dr. Clarke cleverly described, “It’s time the HCP community progresses past using HIPAA as “the garlic to keep social media opportunities away.”

  • March 13, 2017
    • Comments Off on SXSW: Flying Eye Hospital Provides Global Care, Training

    SXSW: Flying Eye Hospital Provides Global Care, Training

    Guest post by Emily Williams, Digital Strategist

    There are 285 million blind or visually impaired people in the world. Yet, four in five of them suffer from conditions that are preventable or curable.

    In a SXSW panel titled “Fighting Blindness with Tech Innovation and Access,” we learned how Orbis International, a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide, uses its Flying Eye Hospital to not only provide high quality eye care and train local medical staff in developing countries, but to also provide education from the aircraft to virtually all corners of the globe.


    “Blindness doesn’t just affect one person – it affects the entire family. Children don’t have the opportunity to grow and learn, and then communities remain in poverty,” said Dr. Daniel Neely, Professor of Ophthalmology at Indiana University and a volunteer of Orbis International.

    Orbis International’s Flying Eye Hospital has been custom designed to offer medical technology and training to the developing world, and it is equipped with the tools the medical team needs to provide hands-on training to local eye care professionals in order for them to restore sight for patients in their own countries. Additionally, it features 3D technology and live broadcast capabilities enabling Orbis, with the help of volunteers, to train more doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals in areas where there is little access to professional development.

    Dr. Danny Haddad, Chief of Program at Orbis International, noted that Orbis’ primary mission with the Flying Eye Hospital is to work with developing countries to create long-term eye care systems that are sustainable, affordable and accessible, creating workable solutions to the tragedy of blindness in those countries and ultimately restoring sight.

    When asked about efforts in war zones and other areas of conflict, Dr. Neely noted that while the Flying Eye Hospital does not fly directly into those areas, the 3D technology and broadcast capabilities of the aircraft help train local medical professionals to provide quality eye care to those underserved populations. “That’s the power of telemedicine – experts at your fingertips.”

    Telemedicine is a rapidly expanding area of healthcare service delivery that continues to show real promise, and Orbis has leveraged the communication technology for a profound impact on global public health. The evolution of this technology will only continue to grow and expand into other areas of healthcare, and we’re excited to see how this technology can be applied to help eliminate other preventable diseases and health conditions.

    Want to tour the Orbis International Flying Eye Hospital? Click here – and be sure to get the full experience using a VR headset.

  • March 11, 2017
    • Comments Off on SXSW: A Conversation With the U.S. Surgeon General About Stress

    SXSW: A Conversation With the U.S. Surgeon General About Stress

    Guest post by Pauline Ma, Senior Digital Strategist

    Stress- it’s a word that has become a regular in the vocabulary of people of all backgrounds, life stages, career tracks and genetic predispositions. It’s also a feeling that can be both mental and physical, and one that a reported 24% of adults in America have described they are experiencing.

    Day one of SXSW Interactive also kicked off the Health track of the conference, and in a session titled “One Nation Under Stress: How Social Connection Can Heal Us,” we had the pleasure of hearing from U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy.


    What happens when stress is chronic and goes on for a long period of time? It is damaging to the body, accelerates aging, and contributes to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and a whole host of other conditions. As Dr. Murthy introduced, “the impact of stress on the body (both acutely and chronically) cannot be underestimated.”

    He described an epidemic of chronic stress in America, and at its roots a gap in understanding that emotional well-being isn’t just something that happens to people; research shows there are tools that can contribute to it and can proactively be used to cultivate it. Among them, the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps. continues to explore advancing research to help people be resilient in the face of adversity, as it launches a campaign this year focused on improving emotional well-being.

    Promising pursuits in this area of public health have included a focus on teaching youth to practice “the importance of pause” and understanding the signals of stress– along with its implications and how to manage it. In one example of its practical application, Dr. Murthy described how introducing a meditation program in a school contributed to a decrease in bullying.

    In a time when the volume of digital platforms and methods for establishing a connection with other people and things continues to grow, it is also a time when 40% of adults report feeling isolated. While the nature of the correlation between isolation and social media usage is argued from several different angles, the bottom line is that we need to be consciously committed to how platforms for communication and connection are used. Dr. Murthy urges, “Let’s make sure that our contributions are positive ones that lift people up… they have a moral impact.”

  • September 12, 2016
    • Comments Off on Finding Common Ground across the Pond

    Finding Common Ground across the Pond

    At GCI Health, we pride ourselves in doing things differently and bringing our passion for healthcare to what we do best for our clients. This includes working seamlessly across country borders to combine senior expertise and local market knowledge to push boundaries and deliver exceptional around-the-clock service.

    From London Bridge to the Brooklyn Bridge, this drive to do something different is at the very heart of our global agency culture. Our values are the foundation of who we are as an agency.

    Each office certainly has an “It” factor and specialties as it is the talents of individual staff members that make up GCI Health. However, after working for an extended time from both our New York and London offices, I’ve seen our agency values in action across the global network.

    • We put patients at the center of everything we do because they are why we do what we do. Before starting any programming, we make every effort to understand the patient perspective so we can meet them where they are and deliver resources they need – whether that translates to a national consumer campaign or a toolkit to guide conversations between patients and their doctors. This can encompass everything from online research and surveys, to interviews with the actual patients we’re looking to help.
    • We think outside the box to deliver original programming grounded in strategic insights. We leverage key insights from patients, caregivers, healthcare providers and patient advocates, and seek inspiration from outside the realm of healthcare to elevate our clients with ground-breaking, award-winning programs.
    • We foster collaboration to pull together the best talent and resources across our global network. We work across offices to ensure all our work is informed by our global knowledge base in consumer health, medical education, digital strategy, media relations and regional regulations.
    • We nurture talent to cultivate diverse and specialized career paths. My personal experience is testament to this value. When I expressed my desire to move to London to gain global communications experience, GCI Health facilitated the transition to develop my personal career and enrich both offices. It didn’t matter that I was the first person to complete an extended placement in an international office. GCI Health was flexible, working with me across borders and time zones.

    No matter what’s in our cups, fresh brewed coffee or Earl Grey, our values remain the same. Put patients first. Champion originality. Foster collaboration. Nurture talent.

    Written by Lindsey Colegrove, Senior Account Executive

  • July 7, 2016
    • Comments Off on Preparing Our Daughters for Success Through Sharing and Learning

    Preparing Our Daughters for Success Through Sharing and Learning

    When companies work to inspire leadership and confidence in both working moms and their daughters, it’s a win-win.
    Blog post by Wendy Lund, CEO, featured on workingmother.com

    Our daughters are the future of gender parity and workplace success.
    My teenage daughter inspires me to be the best I can be. And I try to inspire her. But we do that in very different ways because of who we are, our daily influences and the ways we communicate (I’m a paper and pencil gal with a growing admiration for all things social, and she’s a whiz at everything digital). At the end of the day though, we care about the same things when it comes to our growth and development. She is a product of her generation—feisty, unswerving in her beliefs, clever, unwilling to back down. And I’m a product of mine—serious, hard-working, intense and fairly obsessed. Recently, I realized I can learn as much from her as she can learn from me, and she has inspired me to make that my goal.
    Supporting Women Employees and Their Daughters

    I’m a strong believer of companies fostering the growth of their employees through creative and contemporary ways. So I’m impressed and excited that one of my clients, Astellas—a global pharmaceutical company dedicated to solving the hardest-to-treat diseases (think cancer, rare diseases, infection and others), and a 2015 Working Mother 100 Best Company—is taking this to a whole other level. The company has created a first-of-its kind conference, Women in Action 2016 (July 14 to 15 in Chicago). The event will connect its women employees and their teenage-girl guests in a forum focused on inspiring leadership and the confidence to lead their best lives, overcome challenges and succeed by making meaningful contributions that improve the global society. Central to the success of this event is the sharing of experiences with these girls and developing lasting mentoring relationships.
    The agenda includes two interactive skill-building tracks, one for women and one for teens, designed to build skills. It also features a wonderfully diverse cast of inspirational speakers, including Malala Yousafzai, Amy Cuddy, Robin Roberts and Ronda Rousey.
    I’m particularly struck by this conference’s emphasis on the sharing of experiences. Just as I try to share and learn from experiences with my daughter, Women in Action creates a foundation for mentorship that looks to create meaningful and hopefully lasting relationships for these women and their daughters. Efforts like this will truly empower women like my colleagues, myself and our daughters to succeed.
    Gender Parity—What It Takes

    But what will it take to effect meaningful change? It will take more than women standing up and demanding recognition and appreciation for what they bring to the table. It will take partnership and support. Along with other women, family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, we women should look for opportunities to grow and get our voice out. We need to find ways to band together and share experiences. Learn and grow from each other’s experiences. Learn from our male counterparts.
    The World Economic Forum’s (WEC) 2015 Global Gender Gap Report notes that it could take 118 years before women achieve economic equality in the workplace. At the same time, a report from McKinsey & Co. indicates that companies with at least 30 percent female leaders have net profit margins up to 6 percent higher than companies with no women in the top ranks. I know that my daughter, and many like her, will see these statistics and take them as a challenge to prove the WEC wrong and drive their success and equality. And I commend companies like Astellas, and like Working Mother Media, that are creating an environment that encourages and empowers women to face their challenges.
    My daughter’s strength and intelligence makes me confident in a future where women will be as successful as they want to be. Until that day, I will continue to look for opportunities to empower women and encourage my friends and colleagues to do the same.

    Wendy Lund is the CEO of GCI Health, an award winning healthcare public relations agency with PR professionals across the United States, Canada and Europe. She’s the proud mom of Jesse, 23, and Zoe, 19. Wendy was recently inducted into the 2016 PR News Class of Top Women in PR, was named one of PRWeek’s True Women Champions of PR and was a finalist for PRWeek’s Agency Professional of the Year. Additionally, GCI Health has been nominated for Healthcare Agency of the Year for the 6th year in a row by the Holmes Report, with wins in 2011 and 2015 for North America and 2015 for Global.

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