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 11, 2016
    • Comments Off on SXSW: The Internet of Things – What About the Internet of You?

    SXSW: The Internet of Things – What About the Internet of You?

    Guest post by Emily Kittle, Digital Strategist

    To no surprise, a major theme on day one of SXSW was discussion around the Internet of Things – but this year, it seems that most panelists agree that it’s no longer a thing of the future. The Internet of You (an extension of the Internet of Things) is already here – and this is only the beginning. Below is a firsthand reflection of the following SXSW sessions: “The Internet of You: Wearables and Under-Skin Marketing” and “Home Sweet Home: The Health Hub of the Future.”

    In the landscape of digital health today, wearables track and record your breath, pulse and movement, providing a truly personalized experience that has never been available before, while providing unique data about individuals’ activities, heart rates, sleep patterns, locations and more (check out Samsung’s 3G-capable smartwatch Gear S2). Reality-altering devices provide first-person views that someone may otherwise never experience – unlike Rift and similar VR devices which provide a fully immersive experience, see Microsoft’s HoloLens which adds visuals to a user’s physical view, partially immersing them into a “created” world of their choice, while still being able to see their real physical surroundings.

    But why? Several key words seemed to pop across today’s sessions regarding this topic: personalized, real-time, utility, value, seamless, access, convenience, the list goes on. People want to have access to their own personal data and to experience worlds beyond their imaginations. But beyond that, there seems to be a shift in the way people crave, view and engage with these technologies. That shift is from a more inward view to any form that now affects our outer world – people not only want access to their personal data, they want to be able to provide that information and connect in a meaningful way with others based on that data, whether it’s friends, family, physicians, etc. (read about Under Armour’s Healthbox fitness tracking system for an example).

    So what does this mean and where do we go from here? One particular session today emphasized the critical role that homes will play as healthcare continues to shift in the coming years (think smart homes with a primary emphasis on healthcare). Home devices can provide insights into people’s daily activities, routines and behaviors that could potentially help prevent dangerous health situations. The panel discussed the use of LED lighting to help patients with anxiety and depression, mattress cooling system technologies to help women with menopause to cool down when sleeping at night and providing environmental changes within the home that can encourage healthy cooking and eating habits for those with diabetes.

    Overall, today’s sessions highlighted how health technology can act as a leverage for creating positive behavioral change. Wearables, reality altering devices and the home are all powerful catalysts for empowering people to live their best lives. But for the vast majority of people, data is not enough.

  • March 2, 2016
    • Comments Off on When Will Acting “Like a Woman” at Work Be Seen as a Plus?

    When Will Acting “Like a Woman” at Work Be Seen as a Plus?

    Blog post by Wendy Lund,CEO, GCI Health, featured on WorkingMother.com
    We’ve proven it over and over—being a woman in the workplace is a very good thing. Now the corporate world needs to get on board.
    Last year, Procter & Gamble (P&G) launched a massive communications campaign called “Like A Girl” for their Always brand. The premise is that while people subliminally assume that doing things “like a girl” is a negative comment (if not a downright insult), girls need to stay confident throughout puberty and beyond and that doing things #likeagirl is what they should do. Over the course of the last year, P&G has used this campaign to dramatically morph the meaning of “like a girl” from put-down to compliment.
    Although this campaign is targeted to teens and younger girls, I recently thought to myself how throughout my career I’ve heard people say don’t act “like a girl,” or that’s “just like a woman.” No woman wants to be spoken to in this condescending, insulting way given everything we’ve worked for over the course of our lives and careers.
    We all know that women’s roles in the workplace and leadership have grown tremendously during the past few decades; women account for more than 40 percent of employees in management, professional and related capacities. Women and men often take different approaches to work—we’re different, after all—but we share a common interest: to succeed. Yet peers, bosses and society in general still tend to adopt a view that assumes women will act “like a woman” (in a not-so-positive sense) in business and in the workplace. While women can fight for leadership roles, push ourselves and show how we can be successful managing all aspects of our lives, is this really the best way to get the best value out of women in the workplace?
    I’m fortunate to work in an industry (marketing and communications) where women have earned a seat at the table and are working hard to be at the head of it. But it hasn’t been easy, and I’ve seen and experienced a number of issues that could have been avoided along the way. One is the antiquated notion that doing things a certain way—staying longer at the office, being on the road more, belonging to more networking associations—means you’ll get ahead faster and better.
    Even if it’s feasible for a working mother to devote 100 hours a week to her professional advancement, this extreme contortion of schedules and values still aren’t a clear path to career success, and it can all become too much. Worse than too much, it simply may not be worth the trade-off. But why should it be this way at all? Doesn’t it make more sense for senior management to create an environment, resources and tools that set up women to succeed based on talent, dedication and hard work, rather than casting us as “girls” and treating us in ways that implicitly or explicitly limit our potential?
    Many of our team members have pointed to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” initiative, which makes the case that changing women’s roles in the workplace can’t happen without a change in behavior from male colleagues. I feel the best ways to support women’s career advancement—and reap the benefits—is to eliminate assumptions based on gender. Women need to make our voices heard, to be proactive and visible in taking on the leadership opportunities we’re so capable of acing. And employers need to create these opportunities and view women for who we are: experienced, smart and talented staffers. Women who are empowered to succeed are highly likely to succeed.
    There’s certainly been progress in removing obstacles to gender parity in the business world. But we’ll know we’ve really made progress when “like a girl” and “like a woman” are seen not as negatives but as high praise for what we bring to the workplace.

  • October 27, 2015
    • Comments Off on What Companies Must Do to Keep their Working Mom Talent

    What Companies Must Do to Keep their Working Mom Talent

    This blog post by Wendy Lund, CEO, GCI Health featured on WorkingMother.com

    Many workmoms leave companies because the culture doesn’t let them successfully juggle career and kids. Here’s how most any place of work can help fix that—and keep the talent it needs to thrive.

    As a single working mom, I’ve had it pretty good. I’ve raised two amazing, well-adjusted, intelligent children who generally “went along” with the challenges of my career in public relations—a very demanding profession where you are always on (along with the plain fact that I just like to work hard). Building my career in a world that (still) tends to favor work over family—and men over women—I’ve worked very hard to find ways to manage and be successful at both. I never wanted my children to see me as choosing work over their needs. My ultimate goal was to make my children my number one priority while building a successful and meaningful career. This wasn’t always easy, and throughout my career I’ve had to concoct some tricks of the trade. Early on, there was limited technology. We went to work and we went home. “Virtuality” was virtually impossible. It wasn’t something I even thought much about, but I knew what I needed to do. And as a woman, I had to create all kinds of strategies and double my effort to make it all work.

    Today, the workplace is transformed—and we live in a technologically induced 24/7 world. For me, though, being connected is more of a blessing than a curse. I’ve moved from trying to find balance to attaining work life integration, taking advantage of career opportunities as well as striving to be an excellent parent. Although I admit I’ve become accustomed to waking up, checking emails and engaging from early morning until late at night and into the weekend, I can do it anywhere, and I’ve found it much easier to be both effective and there for my children.

    I now have the honor of focusing on the needs of the working moms (and dads) at our PR agency, helping them embrace and take advantage of available solutions. I understand the challenges today’s working parents face and how a more integrated approach to their work and personal life depends on a culture that supports flexibility, adaptability and personal well-being. Here’s what guides our core values and best practices, and what can support your company as well:

    Be proactive about focusing on employees’ specific needs. Create plans for each employee to ensure that they can do it all. If things get out of whack, which they often to do, help them take a step back, talk it out with their manager and take the steps necessary to uncover new ways to better manage their work life challenges.

    Anticipate and plan for challenges. Some times during the year will be more stressful than others, and each person handles stress differently. These times are when we need to make greater efforts and put programs and incentives in place that help ease stress and restore a proper work life continuum.

    Take time to care. We genuinely care about our team’s personal celebrations and accomplishments. A new baby, a christening or bar mitzvah, when their child is elected class president—we care and we show it. And when unexpected or bad things happen, we roll with the punches as a company and put our employees’ first. We want them to know they come first, which ultimately helps them diminish distractions and focus on things that matter most.

    The new workplace imperative: Companies must allow for more flexibility in the overall work dynamic. We can no longer be defined by a 9-to-5 work ethic and a specific geography, but rather by finding and keeping the right talent regardless. Managers need to work at understanding what it means to keep employees satisfied and use this to guide interactions with their teams. In the end, this leads to not only a positive work environment, but also successful business outcomes—a win-win for all.

  • September 18, 2015
    • Comments Off on The Rule of 7 in the Era of Multichannel Marketing

    The Rule of 7 in the Era of Multichannel Marketing

    This blog post by Kristin Cahill, President, North America, GCI Health

    We are in the midst of a revolution in healthcare communications – an expansion beyond the two-channel paradigm of traditional and online media that has dominated the last decade – to one that encompasses a much broader spectrum of content distribution strategies. This sea change represents a huge opportunity for those of us in the healthcare public relations industry. For the first time, healthcare communicators have the opportunity to expand our scope beyond earned and “social-only-in-name” media, and embrace truly social media, paid strategies and owned content. Yet, these changes also present a new and unique set of challenges, as each channel requires its own customized content and distribution plan.
    To help guide our clients and colleagues through this new reality, we have actually looked to the past. You might be familiar with the Rule of 7 – the old marketing adage stating that a consumer (or, in our case, a patient, physician or other healthcare stakeholder) needs to hear the same message seven times within a twelve-month period to truly absorb it. While the applications of the Rule of 7 have dramatically shifted, we believe the spirit of this theory has great relevance in the era of multi-channel marketing and can serve to guide us as communicators through an increasingly complex landscape.
    After all, given the onslaught of information aimed at our audiences today, the idea that consumers today need repetition still makes perfect sense.
    The latest data from the Meeker Internet Report indicates that consumers’ consumption of information via their mobile devices increased nearly tenfold over the last eight years, which should come as no surprise. Interestingly, this rise did not coincide with a decrease in desktop media consumption. So it’s not that the smartphone replaced the desktop for consuming media – it added to it. Data clearly show that it’s not an “either/or” but an “and” when it comes to consumption.
    Further, stakeholder creation of content on various online channels has skyrocketed exponentially. Take a look at the latest data on social media content creation from 2013 to 2014 and you will see that the pace of content development is still increasing. Instagram saw a one-year increase of 76 percent in content creation on their platform. Even YouTube, one of the oldest mainstream social networks, is still enjoying incredible content growth, with nearly a 200 percent increase in new content created year over year. And it’s no surprise that many of the channels that are growing the fastest are the ones that feature highly visual, immediate content.
    What has changed about the relevance of the Rule of 7 is the way that repetition is generated.
    As we like to morbidly say at GCI Health, syndication – the idea that a media outlet can push out a single message across all of their channels and be effective – is dead. Media outlets have had to adapt their content distribution strategies to an increasingly cut-throat environment and more sophisticated audiences, who are no longer willing to accept information from a single source. Indeed, audiences today have an expectation that they can find relevant ‘on-demand content’ on their channel of choice. If a patient sees something in an advertisement, they are going to ask a friend about it. If their doctor tells them something, they are likely to look it up online. If they see something on their social media channels, they might turn to a credible third-party organization to verify. And so on and so on.
    Against this backdrop, public relations has evolved from a discussion of “traditional” and “online” media to a four-pronged paradigm consisting of earned, owned, shared and paid channels. As communicators in the healthcare space, we must embrace this new world, and understand how best to leverage each one to make sure our evolved stakeholders hear our message seven times in a cohesive but customized way. It’s an exciting time to work in this field and be a part of driving the change!

  • September 8, 2015
    • Comments Off on Peter Shankman and Pharma Experts Weigh In: How “Niceness” Can Help Your Brand

    Peter Shankman and Pharma Experts Weigh In: How “Niceness” Can Help Your Brand

    Blog post written by Dave Hochman, owner of the Red Bank, NJ-based DJH Marketing Communications, Inc.

    One of the first day’s speakers at Exl Pharma’s 11th Public Relations & Communications Summit at Sanofi US in July was Peter Shankman, a PR industry pundit and the author of such books as “Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans” and “Nice Companies Finish First.”

    Peter’s talk, “Ain’t No Customer Like a Zombie Customer!” was all about how to create Zombie Loyalists, which he describes as “fervent fans that help companies massively increase their customer base, brand awareness, and, most importantly, revenue.” One of his quotes on branding and loyalty that stood out was “everything you do on social media must be branded to you…or else someone with a bigger audience will come along and steal it.”

    Peter also delved into the concept of what he termed “corporate niceness” and talked about how those brands that build a business culture of optimism/friendliness and a make a concerted effort to provide great customer service are the ones to emulate in the modern social media-driven age of transparency and access.

    Peter’s fast-paced and funny delivery made for a very entertaining session, and I thought brand loyalty and corporate niceness were pretty interesting concepts to tackle at a pharmaceutical industry conference.

    I queried Peter and a few other speakers as to really just how feasible is it for pharma to try to create what he described as “zombie brand loyalists”…when not only does every medicine end up going generic anyways, patients with acute conditions will only use it as long as they need it?

    As Daniel J. McIntyre, SVP of Corporate Affairs at Biogen, stated, “responsible marketers of pharmaceuticals should not want blind use of their own therapies.” He continued: “most serious conditions are highly heterogeneous and patients and physicians should be looking for the right drug for the right patient at a given time in the cycle of the illness being treated and the real experiences in life.”

    Wendy Lund, CEO of GCI Health, stated, “In treating chronic conditions, the goal for the healthcare provider is to work with the patient to find a therapy that best meets the patient’s needs. However, a patient will remain loyal to that therapy only as long as the benefits outweigh the risks and cost or insurance coverage isn’t an impediment.”

    When I followed up with Peter after his session, he told me that there was “no question” that brand loyalty can — and in many cases should — be nurtured and extended beyond patent expiration, that it doesn’t need to be complicated, and that it was in the best interests of pharmaceutical marketers to look at brands in other industries such as consumer products and services categories for ideas and fresh thinking.

    Another one of Peter’s concepts I wanted to discuss further was the idea of brand “niceness.” For an industry based on data and scientific knowledge, does niceness have any significant place, and if patients are getting medicine that saves their lives, isn’t everything else sort of irrelevant? Peter replied that “when the marketing and sales people have that niceness culture imbued in their actions, it WILL trickle down to the patient…it’s all about presenting right ‘bedside manner’ and while that it may not be immediately quantifiably beneficial, it certainly won’t hurt patient outcomes.”

    “Healthcare has to be about more than deployment of technology to fix medical problems; the human element is key to well-being and patients should be able to count on those providing services to view them as people and consider their interests,” Daniel McIntyre added. “This is critical not only for quality of life today, but also will become important as societies face end-of-life decisions.”

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