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#I’mAPatientNotATask

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Photo Credit: ACP Hospitalist

Do hospitals and physicians really want to improve the patient experience, or are they just studying to the HCAHPS and CG CAHPS tests? While this is only my experience, I am fairly confident my experience is all too common.

I was having significant pain on the left side of my neck and shoulder. And I had nerve pain shooting down my left arm. It was back.

Five years ago I was diagnosed with a herniated disc in my cervical spine. That time, I had no idea what was going on. I just knew I had uncontrollable pain that couldn’t be relieved by ibuprofen, ice or heat. And I had numbness and tingling in my arms and fingers. Fortunately, I was able to resolve the issue with physical therapy.

So back to my current diagnosis. While my doctor’s office was able to get me in pretty quickly and start a course of medications to relieve the pain and swelling, it took a week to schedule my MRI, and another several days after that before I could actually have the scan. Earlier appointments were available, but…

Crisis Management

Negative press happens. Are you prepared for it?

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As communications professionals, we are well aware of the backlash of bad press and often jump at the word crisis. I’m sure most, if not all of us have walked into the office to a bad news story and had our entire day sidetracked. It’s a PR professional’s worst nightmare, but that’s why we make it a point to read and/or watch the news every morning because you never know what is going to come your way.

It’s bound to happen at some point—your client or company is called out in a news story and the review isn’t great. Case in point are several CPG companies who are being called into question for their advertising of unhealthy snacks to preschoolers and young children.Snacks_Embedded

Earlier this week, researchers at the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity released a report that shows food companies have increased their advertising to children for chips and other junk food. The findings were also presented at the American Public Health Association’s annual conference.

Researchers compared the number of snack ads children and teens, ages 2 to 17, saw in 2010 and 2014, as well as…

Healthcare

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Controversy: New ACS Guidelines Spark Fury

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Fall is the season of change and it appears the American Cancer Society (ACS) is embracing it. During this month’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when you would typically hear “mammograms, mammograms, mammograms” as much as you hear “sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen” during the summer, the ACS released new guidelines recommending less and later screening, sparking uproar from practically every audience.

Here’s the high-level breakdown of what changed in the new guidelines: ACS guidelines

  • Women with an average risk of breast cancer (no family history of breast cancer, no known inherited gene mutation and no personal history of breast cancer) should begin annual screening with mammograms at age 45, instead of age 40, as outlined in the previous guidelines. The ACS notes that women ages 40-44 can choose to begin getting mammograms, if they want to.
  • Women should transition to screening every two years starting at age 55, but can also choose to continue screening annually.
  • The ACS is no longer recommending a clinical breast exam (manual breast exam performed by a doctor). Breast self-exam is also no longer recommended as a screening method for women of any age.

Breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer…

Digital Marketing

When Failure is a Good Thing: Lessons from SHSMD 2015

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I spent the first half of my week at the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD) conference in Washington, D.C.  While I am so accustomed to hearing case studies about “getting it right” at these conferences, I was intrigued by a subtle theme of why it sometimes is even better to fail – as long as you learn from it.  Taking risks is a challenge, especially in a traditional industry like healthcare, where failing (at least, on the clinical side) can mean life or death.  It’s also highly-regulated, which makes communicators especially wary of exploring unchartered waters.

As with most industry conferences, we had several speakers from outside of healthcare, who helped to broaden our thinking.  It was Eric Ries, author of the book The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, who resonated with me along this theme of learning from low-risk failures.

Ries’ book, published in 2011, was originally focused on start-up companies and how they can shorten their product development cycles through “adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.”  According to Ries, failure can be productive and a 10%…

Healthcare

What’s New at the SHSMD Conference and What it Means for Hospitals

Next week more than 1,000 healthcare marketing, public relations, communications and strategic planning professionals will convene in Washington, DC for the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) Annual Connections conference.  A seminal event, the conference is a great way to see what’s on the mind of professionals working at, or with, hospitals, healthcare […]

Healthcare

Childhood obesity and the power of influencer strategy

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childhood_obesity_0For most people, September is filled with thoughts of back-to-school routines, fall weather and football. However, it also celebrates National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

Obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years. Today, one in three children in the United States is overweight or obese, causing kids to find themselves at risk for health problems that were once only seen in adults.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the childhood obesity epidemic is only increasing. Nearly 18 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are considered obese, compared to 7 percent in 1980. Adolescents aged 12-19 are also experiencing increases in obesity, with an increase from 5 percent in 1980 to 21 percent in 2012.

No parent wants to see their 8-year-old battling diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or even heart disease. That’s why numerous initiatives have been created to help prevent and address this growing issue, such as Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move or We Can!

As communicators, we know that a topic like childhood obesity can be challenging and…

Healthcare

Have a Healthy School Year

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This week kicked off an exciting time for many kids—the beginning of a new school year.  For most parents a new school year is a sigh of relief, but for some, it can be a little overwhelming. From buying school supplies to meeting with teachers, parents and kids can often get stressed out over the hustle and bustle. So, in honor of the new school year, I’ve gathered some helpful tips to get families on the right track.

Get plenty of sleep

The start of the new school year means new routines. With summer ending, it’s important to get your child (and you) back in to the school year routine. Lack of sleep can lead to low participation, poor grades and falling asleep in class.

Visit the doctor

Take the time to visit your child’s doctor. You’ll want to make sure your child is getting a full checkup before they start school, including eyes, ears, mouth and body.

Practice good hygiene

And I don’t just mean brushing teeth. With so many children in each classroom, germs are bound to spread like wildfire — think of all the sharing! You’ll want…

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Just to be Safe – How Becoming a Mom Changed My Purchasing Habits

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Otchy PhotographyJust within the first few moments of becoming a mother, my entire being irrationally shifted into a pervasive need to protect my baby in every way possible. My daughter’s arrival into the world left me desperate to preserve her pureness and keep her safe.

Before kids, I did not invest in buying organic foods and I most certainly didn’t think about the ingredients in my personal care products. For the most part, I ate what I believed to be a healthy and balanced diet and would hit the gym regularly. After kids, my kitchen is stocked with organic foods and my personal care products lean toward the natural or naturally based. As for the gym…I’m working on finding the time.

For me, it was the reality of being responsible for the health and wellbeing of someone else that created a purchasing pattern of “just to be safe.” Are organic foods actually worth the added cost? Maybe not, but just to be safe, that’s what I will opt for now that I’m a mom. Is that smart, logical and rationale? I’ve done the research and I still don’t know, but it…

Healthcare

Medicine & Social Media: A Balancing Act

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Here on the PadillaCRT health team, we work with all kinds of clients—health systems, medical professionals, device-makers, you name it. A strong social presence is often key to growing an organization’s market presence, but when it comes to our clients, we know that balancing social media and patient privacy can be a tricky game.

There’s a general absence of knowledge when it comes to the impact of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), so when it comes to social media, many health organizations and professionals are inclined to avoid the issue altogether.

The good news is, there are a couple of options that are now providing physicians and experts with a valuable—and authentic—platform to share their voices and position themselves as experts.

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Photo Courtesy of Figure1

Figure1. Known as the “Instagram for doctors”, Figure1 is a photo-sharing app for physicians, nurses and members of the medical community only. It’s a space to safely share clinical cases and discuss treatment, and users have access to a library of clinical images and feedback from hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals.

Physicians can follow…

Crisis Management

Consumers fight for their right to real pumpkin: A PSL saga

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SONY DSCHoly August – Fall is coming! And with it, a Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) that has been revamped since your last sip in 2014. If you haven’t heard, Starbucks announced this week that they’re changing their PSL recipe to include REAL PUMPKIN. I’ll let that sink in, because it’s big news and everyone is freaking out.

But how did this happen and why would Starbucks change a recipe with such a massive cult following?

One of the most interesting parts about this story to me is that it started with a popular food blogger, Vani Hari aka Food Babe, and her community. It’s a pretty awesome example of consumers standing up and taking control of the food they put in their bodies. Consumers are demanding healthier, real food, and big companies are being forced to listen. (Quick disclaimer: Hari has gotten some flack for not always backing up her claims with science, but it appears this story hit home with a lot of truth. Bear with me on this one.)

Here’s the back story. As Hari explains, she started digging…