Dec 5 2013
By Liz Rea and April Sciacchitano
2013 is coming to a close, and it’s been quite a year for health news and communication. A lot of great (and not so great) things happened in health this year, and we made it through the year despite the government breaking, er… shutting down. In case you missed it, here are our picks for the need-to-know moments of 2013.
16-year-old Jack Andraka opens news doors for cancer detection. With the help of Google and Wikipedia, Jack Andraka unveiled a simple test for detecting pancreatic cancer in 2012 that is 168 times faster, 400 times more sensitive and 26,000 times more economical than traditional tests. In 2013, the news spread about the test, which uses mesothelin as a marker to detect cancer, and talk of its vast potential began, with some hoping it can be modified to detect a multitude of cancers.
Boston hospitals responded swiftly to the marathon bombings, thanks to emergency preparedness.
In the wake of 9/11 and numerous natural disasters, Boston hospitals come together for an annual training to better prepare themselves for the unthinkable. When just that happened…
Nov 7 2013
President Obama himself has called it “unacceptable,” and many call it embarrassing. It has inspired material on everything from Saturday Night Light to the CMA Awards. In fact, the IT chief in charge of the project announced his resignation this week and the future career of the secretary of health and human services is also in question. Regardless of which side you fall on, it’s safe to say the rollout of The Affordable Care Act’s health exchange has been anything but smooth.
Amidst a government shutdown, millions of Americans flocked to the reportedly open-for-business exchange, hoping to find affordable coverage, only to leave empty handed and frustrated. Government officials are blaming the $40 million project’s unexpected traffic volume for much of the site’s malfunctions. I’ll direct you to SNL for my initial response; however as a communication professional I can’t help but believe there’s more to the site’s rollout failure than heavy traffic. I do realize the exchange involves highly complex software and is much more intricate than your average microsite or website, making the stakes and room for error that much higher. Fortunately, there are…
Oct 24 2013
The answer: big data. Target tracked the buying habits of thousands of newly pregnant women and found many pregnant women bought fragrance-free lotions and soaps, vitamin supplements such as zinc, calcium and magnesium and cotton balls in early stages of pregnancy. This type of big data enables Target to guess a woman is pregnant and even estimate her due date based upon her purchasing habits..
Oct 17 2013
You will never see a marketing plan without the words “raising awareness” in it. It’s the center of what we do, and there are people pulling the hours and working the relationships to bring that plan to life, masterminding every ad, news story and event. But despite carefully mapping out our path to public health nirvana, we’re not there yet. October is breast cancer awareness month, and we’re all wearing pink, but one-third of breast cancer diagnoses are made in late stages according to the CDC.
Why aren’t we aware yet?
Flavors of the month and dedicated days work great for media (National Trail Mix Day, anyone?), but we need to be high-impact communicators in order to strike a chord with consumers. Oversaturating the market with a health topic isn’t enough to get through to consumers. Less is more, if less is also more strategic. Instead of overextending news hooks, we need to find ways to be more real in engaging people: understanding where they are and how they view of our topic of interest. Ask some tough questions:
What’s even interesting about health? (Really?)
Health education and communication can be…
Oct 10 2013
When Barack Obama was elected President in 2008 (and re-elected in 2012), it was largely because of the efforts of Millennials, the generation of people who are approximately 18-34 years old. The impact of youth on these elections is well-known, but did you know that the President needs Millennials just as much now to ensure the success of his healthcare reform initiative? This time, he’s asking that Millennials vote with their DOLLARS instead of casting an election ballot.
The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “ObamaCare,” expands access to healthcare to all people through a variety of initiatives. One of them is to offer more affordable and accessible health insurance through online exchanges, which officially opened for business on October 1, 2013. As an incentive to participate, ObamaCare has established a “shared responsibility requirement” (aka a $95+ fine that will increase to $695+ in 2016) for anyone who does not obtain some form of health insurance. Now, here’s where the more than 19 million uninsured Millennials come in. According to Healthday.com, “Insuring young, healthy people helps balance out the risk of covering older, sicker adults. But if America’s 20- and 30-somethings don’t sign up,…
Sep 12 2013
Using Sociology 101 to Execute a Successful Teen Health Education Campaign
As summer officially draws to a close, it signals the end of lounging by the beach or pool and working on your tan. However, for more than 30 percent of Caucasian high school girls, tanned skin is a not just a summer phenomenon. With the help of a tanning bed, it’s part of their look year round. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the government agency’s concern for this growing problem that gives new meaning to the term “killer tan.” People younger than age 35 who participate in indoor tanning have a 75% higher risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.
That’s why the CDC has included reducing indoor tanning among high school teens from more than 30% to 14% as part of its Healthy People 2020 objectives. This goal seems perfectly reasonable, but it is notoriously difficult to change teen behavior.
More than two years ago, the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund introduced the powerful “Dear 16-Year-Old Me” video that went viral with…
Aug 29 2013
Despite the consolidation in the healthcare industry, most healthcare providers are still focused on a local market – with local media. Maintaining a robust and proactive media relations program is critical for managing the reputation of a hospital or physician practice. However, the downsized staffs at media outlets and the diversification of media channels can make that challenging. Here are some tips to stay on top of your media game.
Become your own media outlet – We all know that in healthcare, online content is king. Younger consumers use Google and WebMD as a primary care source, and older consumers are spending ample time looking up their latest pain, or researching home care options, or searching for a specialist. The movement to online health information search is not limited to consumers. A University of Georgia study found that most journalism and communications graduates rely on digital forms of news. Reporters are online in social media platforms and looking at content to gather information and ideas for stories. You need to be there with them. Write your own stories, post interesting infographics, produce short videos with patients and consumers and send out recipes via social media. Connect with your local reporters via Facebook and Twitter where you can give them kudos for a story they covered, or comment on a local event. Reporters will find you if your content is interesting, relevant to the local market, timely and published consistently.