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 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.

  • June 29, 2016
    • Comments Off on How to Ensure Your PR Team Is Engaged, Motivated and Appreciated

    How to Ensure Your PR Team Is Engaged, Motivated and Appreciated

    Blog post by Wendy Lund, CEO, featured on PRNews Online

    In most cases employees are, and will always be, a brand’s greatest asset. They drive in-house and agency success. Engaging them should be the highest priority.
    It’s the CEO’s responsibility to help achieve a singular, straightforward vision that propels the business and energizes employees to be best in class, renowned for unrivaled talent, forward-thinking capabilities and unrelenting client service.
    Achieving a vision like this requires building an incredible company spirit where every employee feels that “we are in this together” and maintaining an exceptional culture that embraces doing something different for clients, colleagues and the community. Central to the creation of this shared passion for success is a dedicated plan for actively engaging and motivating employees.
    Engagement Tied to Client Achievements
    It’s critical to motivate employees to avoid settling for the status quo and encourage them to think deeper, go the extra mile and do things differently and better. A lot of cliches, yes, but they are keys to better performance. To help staff live, breathe and celebrate great thinking and outcomes and to integrate this into a company’s culture, there needs to be an ongoing commitment to harnessing employees’ dedication to their work. Several of the following have proven successful:
    • An awards program that recognizes employees who epitomize the values of the company.
    • Monthly spotlights of great initiatives to highlight teams that execute new, different and effective programs. Timed to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament or some other sporting event, an annual competition among teams. The teams are awarded points for receiving accolades, growing revenue, orchestrating program milestones and sparking innovation.
    • Welcome lunches with the CEO for new employees. This allows the CEO to meet new staff and share the company’s vision.
    • “High fives” at monthly staff meetings to honor people who have done things differently and better.
    These are examples only. Options are limitless, of course. The point is to find what works best with your employees and have fun doing it.
    Training & Development & Distinct Needs
    To help foster a culture built on achieving greatness, it’s important to offer employees highly experiential and hands-on experiences that relate directly to the transforming and diverse work they do.
    For example, as we know, PR today is global. As boundaries disintegrate it’s essential that all employees and PR teammates have an understanding of the regional and local nuances that color effective communications around the world. To that end, companies have given staff the opportunity to spend time working in overseas offices to help expand their global mindset. Incidentally, the same holds true for overseas employees—having them work for a period in your U.S. office(s) can be beneficial. Beyond that, encourage employees to work in other offices throughout the U.S., should they have the desire to temporarily relocate to a new city.
    One area that always seems to be a challenge in engaging employees is new business. This is true particularly when it comes to balancing and prioritizing new business with existing (and paying!) work.
    On the agency side, to elevate employees’ comfort with—and love for—new business, consider staging a “new business boot camp,” where you introduce formal methodology and approaches to new business and provide resources to support these activities.
    In addition to formal programs, “lunch & learn” opportunities are an excellent way to train staff through highly interactive sessions. Outside experts should be considered to help facilitate discussions with senior managers on communications best practices, managing people and teams for success and mastering sound financial management.
    Maintain a Work-Life Balance
    Various efforts to engage employees are all fine and well, but how can you keep staff refreshed, at the top of its game and motivated? It’s critical to pay close attention to specific needs of each employee and ensure a good work-life balance. As previously mentioned, employees likely are your greatest asset, and everything we as managers do should be carried out with an eye toward creating a superior work experience.
    From encouraging team members to live a healthy lifestyle to allowing them to take the time they need with their families (and actually use their vacation time) to providing a liberal telecommuting policy to something as simple as a Summer Friday program. All of these can make employees feel good about themselves and their work. I find that the quality of the work and the team spirit is best when employees know that they and their work-life needs are being considered.
    By treating staff as your brand’s greatest asset and making sure that its every contribution is valued, you will be able to pull greatness out of every employee and achieve your company vision.
    CONTACT: wendy.lund@gcihealth.com

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