May 19 2016
When it comes to politics, you could call me a-political. If faced with a choice between donkeys or elephants, I’d likely go with a giraffe. That’s not to say I’m not interested in politics, but my work in PR means I understand the behind-the-scenes message and perception crafting which inherently makes me more suspicious. And I’ll admit, I don’t take the time to weed through all of the information on each candidate’s true position, so I don’t always feel informed enough to have an educated opinion.
But because I work in healthcare, which is a major topic in the political landscape – at least in between the mudslinging – I do believe it’s important that I understand where candidates stand on these issues so I know how a decision could affect my clients (and me as a potential patient/consumer). So as we move toward conventions, I’m wading through the muck and sharing my findings with you. Here’s a very basic overview of where the candidates stand on a number of hot topics in healthcare:
May 12 2016
My childhood memories of Grandma fall into two categories: before stroke, and after stroke.
Before stroke, I remember her soft hugs and constant laughter and how she always smelled of delicious baked goods from her kitchen. After stroke, I remember her wheelchair, the antiseptic smell of the nursing home, and how the stroke permanently robbed her of her ability to hug, speak and laugh.
That was in 1971. This Stroke Awareness Month, I was surprised to learn that while 80 percent of strokes can be prevented with the management of key risk factors like high blood pressure and by living a healthy lifestyle, there is still an enormous gap in treatment options for stroke once it does occur. Ischemic strokes – the most common kind resulting from a blockage in a vessel supplying blood to the brain – must be treated with clot-busting drugs within the first three to four hours to improve the survivor’s chances for recovery. Endovascular procedures to remove the clot are also an option, but they must be performed within six hours of the stroke event, and only after the clot-busting drugs have been administered.
Unfortunately, according to the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, less than…
Apr 28 2016
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST Forum where the topic was innovation in healthcare. The annual event celebrates hundreds of women in the Twin Cities healthcare community, and recognizes pioneers and leaders in health innovation—both in Minnesota and around the globe.
A highlight of the evening was listening to the keynote address given by Cindy Kent, president and general manager of 3M Drug Delivery Systems. Cindy addressed the audience with her remarks on innovative leadership and categorized the attributes of an innovative leader with three words: being, thinking and doing.
Confident, authentic and accountable. Building confidence is critical when it comes to being a leader. Cindy spoke to a concept called “The Confidence Gap.” According to The Atlantic, “evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence.”
Innovative leaders are authentic and accountable. Being a genuine person will let those…
Apr 22 2016
In a 2011 Harvard Business Review article author, Uri Neren (@urineren), postulates that the single greatest factor required for successful innovation is scarcity. In fact, organizational processes have been developed to mimic scarcity and foster innovation including Systematic Inventive Thinking and the “Productivity” method. And, all this time I thought necessity was the mother of invention – turns out it’s the evil step-mother scarcity.
In healthcare, innovation is the new queen. But in healthcare, scarcity is not a generalized state but rather its financial scarcity as seen in dwindling reimbursements, growing healthcare needs and their associated costs, and health care reform implications. There are plenty of patients and an increasing number of CPT codes but the dollars available to treat these consumers does appear to be finite.
In the not-so-distant future we may all actually be treated by a personalized healthcare companion like Baymax from the movie Big Hero 6. (As long as my Baymax can fly so that I can avoid stressful traffic jams, I’m down with this idea. Until then, I will refer to one of the websites designed to reduce stress that my colleague,…
Apr 14 2016
In case you didn’t know, April is National Stress Awareness Month. Stress is something that we may often ignore because we think it’s inevitable or unavoidable, especially in the PR and marketing industry, but it can have serious effects on your wellbeing.
There are thousands of tips for relieving your stress, but the problem is that many are incredibly unrealistic. The world we live in continues to get more and more fast-paced. And the truth is, on our busiest days – even though we should be taking breaks to avoid feeling overwhelmed – most people aren’t going to take the time to step away from an important project even if it is for their health.
And it’s probably no coincidence that April is also National Alcohol Awareness Month. Before you reach for that glass of wine or stop by your favorite happy hour to wash down the stress of the day, try considering some other options to relieve stress this month.
Luckily, technology has provided some more realistic and modern methods for stress reduction, and…
Apr 7 2016
It took years for healthcare providers to accept the term “consumer” when referring to patients. In today’s healthcare economy – one that’s focused more on wellness, prevention and keeping people out of the hospital – understanding patients as consumers is critical to success. (For those of you in long-term care, this includes your residents. And for those of you in health insurance, this includes your members.) Healthcare consumerism is here to stay.
Most healthcare communicators have already made the shift in what we say and how we say it. We’ve stopped talking at consumers and only pushing out our own messages, whether they care or not. We have done this by adopting journalistic principles, providing news they can use and information they want. We have also done this by engaging in a dialogue with consumers via social channels, and learning to go where the conversations are happening rather than expecting everyone to gather around like we’re the EF Hutton of healthcare.
It’s a good start. But it won’t be enough. When it comes to making a great patient experience, we talk a lot about anticipating the wants and needs of patients.…
Mar 31 2016
From telemedicine and electronic medical records to 3-D printing and precision medicine, technology is certainly changing the way we deliver health care. Now, virtual reality (VR) technology is creating a future only seen in movies and with applications across training, diagnosis and treatment, it could mean a new era for the industry.
VR technology, which has its roots in video games and filmmaking, is by no means new. For instance, the Oculus Rift was originally crowdfunded in 2012 with the goal of “trying to create the world’s best virtual reality headset designed very specifically for gaming.” They quickly surpassed their $250,000 goal raising over $2 million and were later bought by Facebook in 2014… for a measly $2 billion. Zuckerberg clearly saw the writing on the walls and knew this technology had important applications beyond exciting gamers. Now, leaders in health care are catching on.
The University of Southern California’s (USC) MedVR lab is pioneering virtual reality research with efforts currently focused on the fields of psychology and stress-related disorders, though applications in neuroscience, physical therapy and occupational therapy are likely as well. Projects at the lab range from…
Mar 24 2016
Earlier this week, heath insurer Anthem announced it has sued pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) Express Scripts to recover damages from drug pricing it believes was too high. Anthem is currently seeking $3 billion in annual cost savings, and is involved in a 10-year contract with Express Scripts that is set to run through 2019.
While Anthem decides whether or not it will terminate the contract early, it’s likely other health insurance companies will begin to re-examine their contracts with PBMs to see if they too are being swindled out of drug savings. Additionally, there’s a good chance this will create an increased demand for transparency during the entire drug pricing process—which can easily be deemed one of the most controversial issues in healthcare, considering we live in the only developed nation that allows drug makers to set their own prices.
With America spending $3.8 trillion on healthcare, it’s no surprise that the cry for transparency in the industry continues to get louder. But why all of a sudden are healthcare companies being held to the same transparency standards as other consumer brands?
Well for starters, consumers are paying more out…