Tackling Childhood Obesity – What’s Working and What’s Not

kids running

It’s been a week of highs and lows for children’s health advocates.  A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than three-quarters of U.S. children eat fruit on any given day, and nearly 92 percent dig into vegetables in a 24-hour period.  As a mom of two boys, I find this to be a pleasant surprise.  But, it’s not all sunshine and roses.  Another CDC study uncovered that youth fitness has declined by about 10 percent since 2004, and is significantly below what it should be.

Gordon Blackburn, director of cardiac rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic put the research into context, “Thirty years ago, we would not have expected to see 12-year-olds with symptoms of cardiac disease.  Now we’ve had to start a pediatric preventive cardiology clinic.”

There has been a concerted effort through a variety of campaigns to move the needle on kids’ health and fitness.  In 1991, the “5 a Day” (now “Fruits and Veggies – More Matters”) campaign was created to increase fruit and vegetable consumption for better health.  In 2007, the campaign shifted to target Gen X moms with a digital effort focused on recipes,…

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Put me in, Coach!

playing-baseballLast night, I went to my first baseball game of the season, full of double plays, diving catches and even a grand slam. No, this wasn’t a Nationals game, or even a Norfolk Tides game, my local minor league team, but instead a Little League All-Star game as full of metaphor as it was of hot dogs and humidity. I never thought I would feel a sense of connection with these boys, but as I watched them run onto the field, I seemed to know exactly what they were feeling. Interns like myself share the same professional space as these little ball players. We are motivated, eager—sometimes tripping over our own feet in that eagerness—but wanting to learn and ready to put our training into play. With great coaches, we have a chance to learn some fundamentals that will create a strong foundation when we head up to the big leagues:

  • Don’t leave the base early: When writing an email or document, it is imperative to double check spelling, grammar and punctuation. Don’t send anything to anyone until you’ve ensured there are no mistakes. This even includes simple email responses, as small mistakes create…
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    6 Lessons Learned from a Career in PR

    Debbie at first job WBVP RadioAt the end of this month I am retiring after nearly 40 years in the biz. Retirement is not a word I like to use because it doesn’t really define how we baby boomers are viewing this next stage of life – continued learning, travel, grandkids, exercise, sports and FUN! But, as with any transition, retirement is a time of reflection. It’s a chance to look back and say, “Wow that was a great career!” And it really has been. And, it’s a time to take stock in what I have learned that might be useful to pass on to those who will sit in this chair after I leave.

    PR is not just a life saver, it’s a life line. It’s unfortunate that many organizations think of public relations after “you know what” has hit the fan. When bad PR threatens reputations, we as PR professionals are expected to clean up the mess and right the course. Don’t get me wrong, this is an important function of public relations and thanks to crisis communications, I’ve put two girls through college. But honestly, if PR was more often…

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    Bringing Disney Magic to Hospital Wait Times

    Dr Mickey

    It’s nothing new for hospitals to look to revered service brands like Ritz-Carlton and Disney for lessons in customer service.  Many a hospital has hired one of their consultants to provide counsel on revolutionizing their patient experience program.  As a mom planning a Disney World vacation, it has become even more apparent to me that hospitals could take a page from Disney when addressing wait times, which are often responsible for a negative patient experience.

    Some people wait 2 – 3 hours (yes, hours) for attractions at Disney World, like meeting Frozen characters Anna and Elsa.  Waiting is just part of the theme park experience.  But, people (especially young ones) hate waiting…so, why does everyone have such a magical experience?

    Waiting seems to be inherent in the healthcare experience, too.  However, patient feedback is far more critical of hospital wait times that are often much shorter than what people are spending to meet a college student in a princess costume (we’re saving lives here, people!).  Some of that is related to circumstances.  No, going to the ER with a sick child is not Disney World.  However, are there opportunities to inject that trademark Disney magic into…

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    Last Hospital Standing: 5 Tips for Communicating to Support Successful Mergers & Acquisitions



    “There isn’t an independent hospital out there that is not thinking about this. At the top of the list is the question, Who should I merge with?” – Gary Ahlquist, Strategy& (from presentation by Susan Alcorn, Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, at the Forum for Healthcare Strategists’ Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit)

    I recently attended the Forum for Healthcare Strategists’ Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit.  The three-day Summit was jam-packed with excellent speakers and content.  A number of the sessions that I attended touched on the topic of affiliations.  It’s no wonder that it remains a hot topic at most healthcare conferences.  Susan Alcorn helped quantify the size of the issue as part of her “Branding & Communication for New Affiliations” session:

    • “Hospitals across the nation are being swept up in the biggest wave of mergers since the 1990s, a development that is creating giant hospital systems.” (New York Times)
    • Number of transactions: 1,430 in 2012; 977 in 2013 (Modern Healthcare)
    • Value of transactions: $123.6 billion in 2012; $135.3 billion in 2013 +9% (Modern Healthcare)

    These numbers are not surprising, as independent hospitals struggle with rising costs and lower reimbursement.  What is somewhat more surprising is…

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    Using Storytelling to Grow Community Engagement

    5060855417_35b1057cef_z (2)One thing you should never underestimate: the power of a good story.

    A story can transform how people think about and connect with your brand – and makes your brand personal. For healthcare organizations especially, the topics we discuss are often complicated. By telling stories, you can make your work come to life in an understandable, digestible way.

    At PadillaCRT, our clients’ customers frequently tell us that they may have been aware, but only engaged with our client after learning about a real person whose story illustrated why the organization’s work was important.

    Focusing on stories that are authentic and emotionally impactful is the key here. One of the best ways to rally a community of people around your organization is to move them on an emotional level. This is where passionate and personal storytelling can be incredibly effective.

    Don’t just tell people why they should care. Show them.

    In the healthcare world, we have an advantage in finding great stories, because essentially, we are all working toward the same goal: making people healthier. It’s a very relatable goal. If your organization has helped one person in a significant, meaningful way, you have…

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    Crisis Management

    Fines and Headlines: 5 Tips to Prepare for a Crisis Before It Happens


    While retailers have certainly had their fair share of headlines related to information breaches, they are not the only target. In the health industry, more than 29 million patients’ records have been compromised since 2009.

    To understand what this means, take a look at this infographic created by the Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) based on its 2012 study of the U.S. health industry. The study reveals nearly 500 breaches between 2009 and 2012, with an average of 43 thousand records being compromised at an average cost of more than 8 million dollars per incident.

    And experts say that healthcare information breaches are on the rise, particularly since their financial value to criminals is two to five times greater than basic consumer credit data. That’s because health data can be used for medical and insurance fraud as well. In addition to the significant communication and credit monitoring costs, healthcare providers also are subject to severe financial penalties under federal patient privacy laws. And when I say penalties, I’m talking hefty fines of up to $1.5 million per incident. Ouch, Charlie, now that really hurt!

    While the healthcare industry invests millions of dollars to protect patient data –…

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    Brand Journalism: Health Providers Embracing New Storytelling Strategy

    The movement toward brand journalism offers special benefits to the health industry. Healthcare affects everyone’s life, so audiences naturally relate to timely news and information about topics like medical advances, patient treatments and personal health advice. Equally compelling are the human-interest stories that abound in the healthcare field.

    Such high-interest content makes brand journalism sites a no-brainer for many healthcare providers.

    In fact, several top healthcare organizations have implemented this storytelling tool and are seeing success. For those considering adopting this approach, we’ve shared a few examples of providers who are setting the standard.

    Advocate Health Care health enews

    Advocate Health Care, a hospital group in the Chicago suburbs, launched health enews a year ago to increase mindshare among local journalists and consumers.  An in-house newsroom of six core communicators develops content for the site, including videos, feature stories and commentary on breaking health news.

    Advocate Health 2 (3)While the site’s intent is to build awareness of Advocate’s services and expertise, some of the most captivating articles are personal stories told by people within the organization.

    For example, Tim Nelson, an Advocate public affairs manager, shared his experience helping his…

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    Digital Marketing

    How Many Facebook Pages Does One Company Need?

    Three companies who have it all figured out

    Facebook-Like10A single company can have a million services, but they only have one brand. Maybe that means one Facebook page, too. But what happens when consumers want to connect with only some of your services?

    Take a medical group, for example, which consists of different practices in different locations. The medical group provides healthcare services from pediatrics to women’s health to physical therapy. These disparate target audiences are thirsty for content just for them. As a brand, you must choose between a consistent master brand presence and a meaningful and targeted connection with customers. How do you win a war against yourself? If the medical group’s women’s health practice wants to start their own Facebook Page, you have to decide if this dilutes the brand’s social media presence or enhances it. Some are inclined to say this splinters the brand, but the proof is in the engagement.

    Here are tips from 3 health focused brands that have it figured out:

    1.       Aetna
    I had the opportunity to meet Lauren Vargas, Head of Social Media and Community at Aetna, a few weeks ago at xPotomac. Lauren…

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    2 Steps to Save A Life

    Last Thanksgiving Jeff Joseph was running in the 5K Turkey Trot in St. Paul, when he suddenly collapsed. His heart had stopped; he was dead. Quite fortunately, Bruce Kiecker, a nurse with St. Paul’s United Hospital, was also participating in the Turkey Trot. Bruce didn’t hesitate to intervene and started CPR on Jeff. Bruce continued hands-only CPR until the ambulance arrived 10 minutes later.

    The willingness of random bystanders to perform CPR is crucial in saving a life. In fact, only 7 percent of people who have a sudden cardiac arrest survive. In Minnesota, the survival rate is more than double that, at 16 percent. Because of the quick action of Bruce, Jeff is alive and anxiously awaiting the birth of his first child, due later this month.

    The executive director of the Twin Cities chapter of the American Heart Association made a special presentation to Bruce and Jeff at a recent AHA board meeting held at the PadillaCRT Minneapolis headquarters. AHA’s Barb Ducharme gave Jeff a CPR Anytime Kit, and Bruce received the CPR Save Award for his courage, composure and compassion.

    But you don’t have to be a medical professional to help someone in cardiac arrest. How can…

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