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 12, 2016
    • Comments Off on SXSW: Health Gets Mobile, Communal

    SXSW: Health Gets Mobile, Communal

    Guest post by Emily Kittle, Digital Strategist

    In today’s world, all of the information and resources we could want and more seem to be at the tip of our fingertips. However, when it comes to healthcare, seeking the appropriate treatment is all too often deprioritized due to the daily demands of life and the ease of being able to search symptoms online and self-diagnose. Similarly, many patients feel that their existing support systems quite often don’t have the resources and time to help them in their healthcare journey following diagnosis, surgery or injury.

    Two of today’s sessions at SXSW – “Virtual Health: Is It Real or Just Fantasy” and “New Prescription: Mobilize Patients’ Communities” – highlighted local mobile health-focused initiatives in the state of Texas that are helping to improve patient access to care and support systems, resulting in improved quality of care and outcomes for patients.

    In 2014, the Dallas Children’s Health System of Texas implemented a school-based telemedicine program with remote patient monitoring. The reason behind this program? It’s inevitable that children will get sick at school, which can be disruptive to daily life – they have to miss class, parents have to leave work, last minute doctor’s appointments have to be scheduled. But through this telemedicine program, school nurses are provided with stethoscopes, ear, nose, throat and derma scopes, then connected with Children’s physicians for a virtual patient consultation.

    Because of the mobile technology, Children’s physicians are able to diagnose common illnesses for children in school and send their prescriptions to a preferred pharmacy, ultimately eliminating the need for the child to leave the school for treatment or for mom and dad to spend valuable time and money on a doctor’s appointment or emergency room visit. Today, Children’s Health’s telemedicine program is one of the largest school-based telemedicine programs for kids in the country, with more than 57 schools across Dallas implementing the technology.

    We were honored to participate in another session today that introduced us to Rallyhood, a collaborative platform that enables action-oriented communities. We heard from Rallyhood CEO Patti Rogers, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. While she had a tremendous support group throughout her cancer journey, she realized that there was a need for tools and resources to bring people together around a common purpose – and that’s why Rallyhood was born.

    Recognizing this need, Patti partnered with Seton Medical Center Austin to launch this platform. Now, people can use Rallyhood to stay connected through features such as calendars, file sharing, photo exchanges and message boards. The panelists reiterated that “You can’t do cancer alone” – support groups are vital, and technology is extremely important in connecting those dots.

    “If you are connected and uplifted by the people around you, you are more likely to have endorphins to help you get well. A community and support group can make the difference in whether you get well or return to the hospital.” – Patti Rogers, founder and CEO of Rallyhood

  • March 11, 2016
    • Comments Off on SXSW: The Business of Influencers

    SXSW: The Business of Influencers

    Guest post by Pauline Ma, Digital Strategist

    There are certain questions that should be easy for today’s influencers (and social media stars, content creators, or whatever other lingo you’d like to use to characterize them) to answer: How did you get your start? What do you look for when companies and brands reach out to you in hopes of a partnership? Other questions are not as clear-cut: How do you determine your pricing model? How do you maintain creative control and actually tell a story?

    At SXSW Interactive, many a panel focused on the topics of content creation, native advertising and social media engagement. These discussions tend to become pretty predictable in these types of settings: for example, a phrase like “be authentic, engaging and relevant” more than met its quota.

    So why are we still talking about them if the concepts are no longer new? Panelists shed light on the challenges that still exist, like navigating available budget for integrated campaigns, buy-in and understanding from higher ups on what collaborating with influencers to create content can do for brand stories, and how to strike that healthy balance between “yes, this content is sponsored” and “here’s the voice of the influencer you know and trust.”

    What we heard was that generally, the available budget for sponsored content campaigns still remains small in comparison to the larger pool of funds reserved for traditional marketing — and often the support for these campaigns is a blend of PR and social media budgets too. At the root of this often is the need to educate those in senior management (and those who hold the key to unlock more freedoms with budget) about expectations for what these kinds of collaborations can deliver and how they can be measured.

    One common remark from a panel of millennial content creators and video personalities particularly struck a chord with us: “when we receive pitches, we want to know upfront what we’re going to get out of it.” For those of us working in healthcare, this is something to keep in mind. How can we push ourselves to be creative with what we can offer our partners? If not (or in addition to) cutting them a check, what kinds of experiences can we offer? An understanding of an influencer’s following, personal brand, and strengths in content creation is crucial to ensuring a partnership is beneficial to both parties. More often than not, influencers feel that the cold pitches they’re getting are so laser-focused on supporting some business goal on the back-end and overlook focusing on the meaningful impact that can be created out of the partnership.

    Particularly within healthcare, we know finding the right influencers is not easy – and so we need to ensure we’re thinking about what we can do differently in order to create truly authentic partnerships that are about more than just click-throughs and engagements.

  • 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.

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