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Tag Archives: Health

How to distill complex health care stories

Medical mumbo jumbo has no place in today’s consumer-based marketing practices.

Confused patients, family members and people in your community won’t stick around and try to decipher your message.

As communicators, we must translate highly complex verbiage into clear, concise, compelling—and jargon-free—words and images. Within the process, we often forget the “V” word: value.

Progressive marketing and PR pros are focusing on value when creating videos, blog posts, events and more.

[WHITE PAPER: How to communicate with a millennial workforce.]

Pharma first

At Bristol-Myers Squibb, one challenge for communicators is to help doctors understand new treatment options, such as immuno-oncology cancer regimens. When pharma can educate providers, they in turn can handily share information with patients. Invoking complex science to “show and tell” alternatives to the “long-accepted method of treating cancer with radiation and chemotherapy” is no easy task. Medical Marketing and Media reports:

“We spent a lot of time thinking about how people who aren’t from the pharma industry can relate to and understand how immuno-oncology works,” explains Carrie Fernandez, head of U.S. communications for Bristol-Myers Squibb. “For example, on our I-O discovery website, there’s a graphic comparing a garden to immuno-oncology. We’re trying to break it down in a way that people can get the a-ha moment in their head without having to understand a Kaplan–Meier curve.”

Fernandez notes Bristol-Myers Squibb is working with advocacy organizations including Stand Up to Cancer to reach and educate patients. Those partnerships go along with the digital campaign, Ready. Raise. Rise.

New drugs, such as immunotherapy and hepatitis-C treatments, are often criticized for being wildly expensive. However, Spectrum Science Communications president Jonathan Wilson says companies need to remind patients of the value first. “A drug may cost a lot of money in the short term, but you have to think about the value these medicines bring over a lifetime,” he explains.

Though Mylan and other drugmakers have recently come under fire for price gouging, a growing number of pharma companies continue to break down their wordsmithing and images and ramp up value propositions. According to FiercePharma.com:

Astellas’ corporate campaign is one of several in the industry currently that highlight the good work pharma companies do. Using employees is a tried-and-true approach for pharma companies to humanize what they do and create empathy. Pfizer’s current corporate effort, for instance, shows its scientists and others taking a drug from just an idea all the way through to a patient’s medicine cabinet. And Merck’s online and social campaign “Humans for Health” is a deep dive into its employees’ passions around their work.

The new 30-second commercial, part of Astellas’ ongoing run with CNN, shows Astellas scientists and others at work and play, talking about their focus to work together to improve people’s lives. It ends with the line, “Turning innovative science into value for patients.”

confused_employees_scientists

The post continues:

While that line has been part of Astellas’ vision for years, according to an Astellas spokesperson, it’s new wording for the corporate CNN campaign. Last year, the commercial featured Astellas’ CEO and also its chief medical officer in a longer one-minute ad that focused on innovation and the company’s responsibility to its patients.

The idea of patient value jives with current medical, political and cultural healthcare conversations in which value is a key theme. That’s in part because of the anticipated move to more outcomes-based healthcare where value is a core measurement. However, patient value has also gained traction, particularly in pharma, thanks to ongoing drug pricing criticism. Incorporating value into the pricing equation has become strategic.

Consider how communicators at Seattle Children’s Hospital have used video to explain the complex and emotionally charged issue of pediatric bioethics. The hospital explains the purpose of the four-minute clip on its YouTube channel:

This video describes the work of the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics and its impact on patients, families and providers who are dealing with challenging ethical questions. 

(Image via) 
HealthCareCommunication.com

CMS to slash $130 million in Medicare home health pay

Home healthcare agencies will see a 0.7% drop in Medicare reimbursement in 2017, the final year of cuts meant to recoup previous overpayments.
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Mercy Health’s surplus wanes in aftermath of health insurance exit

The operating margin at Mercy Health, the largest health system in Ohio, fell to a slim 0.9% in the first half of this year. Higher labor expenses and the residual effects from a divested insurer hurt the not-for-profit Mercy.
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Acadia to add West Virginia behavioral health facilities

Officials at Highland Hospital, Charleston, W.Va., say the mental health center’s board of directors has agreed to sell its Charleston facilities to Tennessee-based behavioral healthcare company Acadia Healthcare Co.
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Mental health bill advances to House floor

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), passed 53-0 in the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday. The bill was first introduced by Murphy a year after the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings that…
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University Hospitals will provide joint replacement care to GE health plan members

General Electric has selected University Hospitals, Cleveland, to provide joint replacement surgery to eligible out-of-state health plan members.
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Mayo Clinic Care Network partners with Indiana health system

Beacon Health System is the first Indiana health system to join the Mayo Clinic Care Network.
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Would body cameras on doctors improve health care?

Picture this: A physician is accused of inappropriately touching a patient during an exam. Authorities immediately access video taken from the clinician’s body camera to determine what transpired in the examining room.

If body cameras are effective in policing and racial profiling, can health care benefit from the technology as well?

Steven Strauss, a visiting professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, raised the issue in an op-ed published in Monday’s Los Angeles Times.

Leaving aside patient outcomes, there are also highly credible accusations that medical staff have groped and sexually abused sedated patients . Body cameras on doctors and nurses might well prevent such incidents, or provide evidence if they did occur.

Doctors_Bodycams_Facebook

MedCityNews.com reported that the video cameras could also address claims of inferior medical treatment for minorities:

In general, African Americans and other people of color receive inferior medical treatment, leading to higher death rates. David Williams, a professor of public health at Harvard, who has researched this issue, writes that blacks and other minorities receive fewer diagnostic tests, fewer treatments, and overall poorer-quality care — even after adjusting for variations in insurance, facilities, and seriousness of illness.

Physicians’ body language and minority patients

According to the Huffington Post, a recent study of body language as it relates to physician communication and patient care proves Williams’ point. Dr. Amber Barnato, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the study’s senior author, said her team analyzed audio and video recordings of doctors who interacted with black actors. The actors were asked to portray dying hospital patients. The providers knew they were involved in a study but didn’t know what the researchers were looking for, HuffPo reported. The result? African-American “patients” received less-compassionate care from real doctors than did their white counterparts.

Barnato said: “Although we found that physicians said the same things to their black and white patients, communication is not just the spoken word. It also involves nonverbal cues, such as eye contact, body positioning and touch.”

The Huffington Post goes on to say the research suggests the doctors in the study let their black “patients” down.

When interacting with whites—explaining their health condition and what the next steps might be—the doctors in the simulations tended to stand close to the bedside and were more likely to touch the person in a sympathetic way. With blacks, the doctors were more likely to remain standing at the door of the hospital room and to use their hands to hold a binder—a posture that could make them appear defensive or disengaged.

RELATED: Fine-tune your internal communications measurement and earn buy-in for your team.

Still photos and social media expose elderly abuse

Video cameras aren’t the only tool that can be used to improve patient care. Consider the repugnant activities of numerous staffers at nursing homes nationwide. Many have been convicted of breaking abuse and privacy laws when they posted photos on Snapchat and other photo-sharing platforms. The Chicago Tribune reported a few months ago:

The incidents illustrate the emerging threat that social media poses to patient privacy and, at the same time, its powerful potential for capturing transgressions that previously might have gone unrecorded. Abusive treatment is not new at nursing homes. Workers have been accused of sexually assaulting residents, sedating them with antipsychotic drugs and failing to change urine-soaked bedsheets. But the posting of explicit photos is a new type of mistreatment — one that sometimes leaves its own digital trail.

One facility, Prestige Post-Acute and Rehab Center in Washington modified its internal communication policies after an incident in 2014, according to the Tribune:

In a statement, PrestigeCare said it fired the employee, alerted authorities and instituted new, stricter cell phone and social media policies. “We take these situations very seriously and are thankful that our own internal procedures alerted us so promptly to the issue.”

Doctors_Bodycams_medicare_Prestige

Communicators, do your crisis plans include this aspect of social media policy and employee culture? Are you coaching providers on body language as it relates to patient care? Where do you stand on the introduction of body cameras in medical situations?

HealthCareCommunication.com

D.C. pick to lead hospital came from troubled Indian Health Service facility

The new head of Washington’s public psychiatric institution has just one other hospital stint on his resume: chief executive of an American Indian reservation’s hospital where emergency services were halted because federal and tribal officials said…
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Health officials urge lawmakers to fund Zika response

The nation’s top health officials told lawmakers on Wednesday that efforts to combat the spread of Zika would be severely hindered if they reject President Barack Obama’s request for $ 1.9 billion in emergency funding. They also said any diversion of…
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