Before HIMSS 11, we created a word cloud comparing keywords on HCIT blogs with web content on the HIMSS conference site to determine if show content mapped to the issues that healthcare providers, payers, vendors and industry executives were discussing.
At the time, the term “information” dominated. This corresponds to the trends in EHR, security and data, similar to those in our previous blog post cloud. Information is the foundation for not only helping clinicians make better care decisions, but also for consumer empowerment and patient engagement.
We decided to keep that trend watch alive through a bi-weekly “Trend ‘o Meter.” Thanks goes to my colleague Bill Bode of our Schwartz Research Team who put together this nifty graph that reflects the past 30 days of social media discussion throughout blogs, forums, Twitter and Facebook.
According to our calculations, EMRs and EHRs are still the top discussion items for the industry. This is not surprising given their prominence with respect to information sharing, meaningful use and health information exchanges. Vendors are working on new solutions. According to a study by Kalorama Information, the EMR market grew 13.6% in 2010, translating to a value of $15.7 billion
After EMR/EHR, mobile health, or more commonly, mHealth, is the next highest. Not surprisingly, as the mHealth sector is seeing explosive growth over the last couple of years. Chilmark Research. predicts the market's "explosive" expansion to $1.7 billion by the end of 2014, driven by the convergence of regulatory mandates for better quality, less expensive healthcare, and the nearly universal adoption of mobile devices.
The definition of mHealth evolves as does the technology – from cell phones to iPads and iPhones to more sophisticated smartphones. Vendors are creating apps, and we’re going beyond text to communicate and share information, to photos and videos. We can use mHealth for medication adherence and telemedicine.
A great example of adherence is Schwartz client WellDoc, the only mHealth company to receive FDA clearance for automated, real-time clinical and behavioral coaching based on patient data and to conduct randomized, controlled clinical trials for their solution. This capability helps patients and healthcare providers coordinate diabetes care for adult patients with type 2 diabetes, propel self-management and achieve long-term adherence.
Going hand-in-hand with the EMR and EHR industries is meaningful use, which came in 4th on our chart. Whether it’s about who is adopting it, how to achieve it or what to include in Stage 2 requirements in both the private and public sectors, meaningful use is here to stay.
Health Data Management recently released a straw poll of its readers that found that a majority of respondents preparing for Stage 1 EHR meaningful use have found the criteria to be easier than expected to achieve (9 percent) or at least doable (47 percent). For 36 percent of respondents, the experience thus far shows that meaningful use is not something every aspiring organization will achieve, and 9 percent say the criteria is "unachievable for us, at least for now."
So that’s the baseline comparison of the Healthcare IT Trend’o Meter. Check back with us in a couple of weeks as we continue to research the web and track the hot topics.
According to a report just posted by PRWeek, the highly anticipated FDA Draft Guidance on the Internet and Social Media will not be issued on March 31. The FDA has a Facebook page and Twitter handle, although when this blog was posted, the FDA had not posted in either about the delayed release of guidance. Delayed now for a second time (originally expected by end of 2010), this continued lack of guidance means that healthcare communicators must continue to “blindly” navigate the social media waters.
Just yesterday, Schwartz co-hosted with PR Week, a webcast on social media for healthcare. Our expert panel-- including Lee Aase of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media and Gary Karr, EVP at AdvaMed and me—discussed strategies beyond a ‘wait and see’ approach. Just because there are no strict guidelines, doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sidelines. But you should be smart about what you do. We’re seeing with our clients and other medical companies, that if you apply some of the rules for traditional media relations, you can effectively participate in social media.
With the growing popularity in social media and more and more consumers turning to Facebook and social networking sites to get their health information (we wrote about this last week, in fact), even the most seasoned healthcare PR pros are grappling with what the right mix of social and traditional media should be for their clients.
Throw into the mixture that guidance on social media from the FDA is delayed again and this equals a hot a topic indeed. Schwartz Senior VP Helen Shik (@helenShik) participated in a lively webinar hosted by PRWeek along with Gary Karr (@garykarr), EVP/Public Affairs at AdvaMed, and Lee Aase (@LeeAase), director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, on this very topic. Participants all agreed that the division between social media and traditional media has blurred and we should just think of it all as “media.” One plays off and complements the other and you run the risk of not being able to reach a critical audience if you focus solely on the traditional press or vice versa.
For instance, Helen talked about a recent study that found that blogs still heavily rely on traditional press for their information. According to a study conducted by PewResearchCenter Publications, more than 99 percent of the stories linked to in blogs come from legacy outlets like newspapers and broadcast outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post.
Gary talked about how the popularity of the iPad has infiltrated the C-level at organizations and as a result, CEOs are getting more acclimated to social media and using it as a vehicle to communicate. He advises companies to start small—no need to try everything at once. And, given regulatory fears, Gary advised companies to seek advice of a lawyer and establish social media guidelines.
Lee gave a powerful example of the power of Twitter in relaying news about professional baseball player Jayson Werth who had surgery on his wrist after he thought he was all done with baseball because of the pain. Well, through Twitter and a USA Today Twitter chat, a patient was able to diagnose her wrist pain and had the same surgery after being in constant pain for 5 years. She now has a future without chronic wrist pain and says that without Twitter, she would likely not have heard about the surgery. AND, the surgeon credits the power of social media in raising awareness of this surgical procedure in less than two years for what would normally take about 17 years for a new procedure to truly become mainstream in a practice. Talk about the power of the media!
It’s not too late to download the full transcript and hear the webinar in its entirety including the Q&A which answered questions on important topics such as measuring success.
1 in 5 People Turn to Social Media for Health Info
One in five Americans today are turning to social media as a source for their healthcare information, according to a National Research Corporation survey. Facebook was the most popular resource with 94% of the nearly 23,3000 respondents saying that they turn to this online networking site to find health information such as health education videos, and diet and exercise tips. When asked social media’s influence, 1 in 4 respondents said it was “very likely” or “likely” to impact their future health care decisions.
Many health agencies such as the CDC, health care providers as well as medical technology providers have launched Facebook pages to provide consumers with better access to health information.
Check out iHealthBeat’s article on the survey for more details on social media’s impact on how Americans are getting health information these days. Rising threat of TB According to a story in The Boston Globe, the World Health Organization has announced that more than 2 million people will contract a form of tuberculosis by 2015 that is difficult to treat. According to Mario Raviglione, director of WHO’s Stop TB department, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide will die from multi-drug-resistant (MDR) strains of tuberculosis during that period unless greater efforts are made to properly diagnose all patients and provide them with correct medication. While some countries in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are successfully reducing infection rates with aggressive detection and treatment programs, the lack of proper screening for MDR-TB means many sufferers are going undiagnosed, let alone properly treated, increasing the risk that they will spread the disease to others.
Study shows relatively poor long-term results for gastric bypass surgery A study published in the Archives of Surgery reported that nearly half of the patients who underwent gastric band surgery for weight loss more than a decade ago have had the bands removed because of medical complications. The study, which was conducted at a university obesity center in Brussels, Belgium, found that nearly 1 out of 3 patients experienced band erosion. The study as reported in the New York Times tracked 151 patients from 1994 to 1997 and is believed to be the first to track the outcomes for an extended period of time. Researchers concluded that the results reflect relatively poor long-term outcomes.
Gastric band surgery is continuing to grow in popularity in the U.S. so it will be interesting to see if this study has an impact on the patients requesting the procedure.
Posted by Lauren Arnold on March 25, 2011 at 2:30 PM
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The whole concept of social media in healthcare communications remains an interesting and ambiguous area for many medical device, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical diagnostic companies.
With draft guidance from the FDA pending, many healthcare marketers are still grappling with the key issues that should be taken into consideration when exploring the value and utility of social media. How are practitioners blending traditional and social media relations despite this lack of guidance? Are there already some best practices for reaching patients, caregivers, practitioners and payers?
On Monday, March 28 at noon, Schwartz Healthcare SVP Helen Shik will participate in a one hour webinar on media relations for healthcare organizations to discuss these issues. Helen will be joined by Lee Aase, director, Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media and Gary Karr, executive vice president, public affairs department, Advanced Medical Technology Association.
PR Week Editor-in-Chief Steve Barrett will serve as the moderator for what is promising to be a very lively and informative discussion. We hope you can join us for this free webinar.
It’s unbelievable… As the dust finally settles after HIMSS11 and healthcare IT professionals are just about to pull themselves out of the email precipice once and for all … BAM! HIMSS 2012 is already upon us.
That’s right folks, the call for papers for the 2012 Healthcare Information and Management System Society Conference opened yesterday. As the largest health IT gathering of the year, attendance topped out at 30,000 in 2011. According to Debra J. Clough, Manager, Annual Conference Education, HIMSS, "Each year we receive over 650 proposals and approximately 150 proposals are accepted."
Here’s the general timeline we all should have scheduled in our calendars:
HIMSS12 Call for Proposals Deadlines March 21 - HIMSS12 Call for Proposals and Call for Reviewers open via Web site May 23 - HIMSS12 Call for Proposals and Call for Reviewers Close December 19 - First draft of presentation materials due to reviewer and HIMSS Dec 19, 2011 - Jan 3, 2012 - Review of presentations; comments sent back to presenters January 3 - 16 - Presenter revision of presentations (if necessary) January 17 - Final speaker presentation materials due February 20 - 24 - 2012 Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition, Las Vegas
With main topic categories ranging from Care Coordination, Medical Device Integration and Health information Exchange to Mobile Health and Patient-centered Payer IT Initiatives, the next 11 months will reveal which ones are more prominent. What do you think will be the hot topics at HIMSS12?
HIMSS12 may be just shy of a year away, but the clock has already started ticking! The Schwartz CommunicationsHealthcare IT Practice team can help you not only write speaking submissions, but also plan marketing activities for the show to maximize your visibility, including video production.
Please give us a call at 781-684-0770 and ask for Dave Close, general manager, or write a note in the comment section below. Good luck!
Over the years clients have hired Schwartz for many reasons: to drive sales, differentiate from competitors, help raise funding, communicate to shareholders, recruit patients into clinical trials or to increase their presence amongst legislators in DC. However Retina Implant presented a unique challenge - infiltrate a perceived competitor’s media coverage.
Germany-based Retina Implant was very rarely included in coverage about artificial vision in the U.S. or English-speaking media outlets due to limited awareness and information being only available in the German language. For instance, U.S.-based Second Sight had become media darlings based on their clinical work and enthusiastic KOLs willing to promote their successes to the media. Never looking to discredit the work of the competitor, Retina Implant wanted to share the stage as their approach was demonstrating jaw dropping results to patients in their clinical trials. Enter Schwartz. For more than a year, the Schwartz PR team interacting with English-speaking media about Retina Implant’s sub retinal approach to treating retinitis pigmantosa – a form of blindness. The company, along with other industry KOL’s, believed our client’s approach may provide a better patient experience which they hoped to prove in the clinical trials.
The Schwartz team began having conversations with all media interested in the subject matter and as a result, Retina Implant began to get included in stories in print, broadcast, radio and online, crowding Second Sight’s spotlight. Coverage included the BBC, ABC News, Financial Post and the Today Show. Our big shining moment was the publication of data in a prominent peer-reviewed journal which provided an impetus for many outlets to cover our client. To date, the team has secured placements in more than 850 outlets, reaching more than 350 million readers and viewers.
Click here to view a case study highlighting our efforts.
We are immensely proud of our work and believe patients and their families will have options for managing their blindness in the future.
Spring has sprung and with it, so has O’Dwyer’s annual rankingof independent public relations firms across the industry. Once again, Schwartz Communications was named among the top 10 independent PR firms out of 152 firms nationwide. Additionally, Schwartz is ranked sixth among the top firms specializing in technology and healthcare respectively.
Schwartz is proud to be ranked and recognized by O’Dwyer’s Public Relations News, a leading public relations and marketing communications publication. In our 20th year of business, we continue to be inspired by our innovative clients in a number of markets from clean tech to life sciences, consumer technology, health IT to security. We design and execute traditional media, video, public affairs, social media and blog programs to drive influence and maximize impact.
Check out O’Dwyer’s Public Relations News for the complete list of rankings online. The rankings will also be published in the May print edition of O’Dwyer’s monthly magazine.
First Treatment for Lupus in 50 Years Approved by FDA
For the first time in half a century, there is a new treatment for lupus – a chronic, incurable immune system disease in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues. The FDA approved the injectable drug Benlysta (belimumab) for the treatment of patients with the most common form of lupus who are already on standard therapies like steroids, antimalarial drugs, and immunosuppressive drugs.
With lupus, a patient’s joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lung, blood vessels and brain can be affected. The drug is the first product developed by Human Genome Sciences and will be marketed by GlaxoSmithKline. It works by blocking a protein that fuels lupus. The drug however doesn’t work in African Americans who are three times more likely to get the disease but there were too few African Americans in the trial to draw a definitive conclusion. The FDA has asked the manufacturer to conduct a trial in only African Americans to assess the safety and effectiveness of this drug in this patient population. FDA approval is huge news for the more than 1.5 million Americans suffering from the disease as at least seven drugs in the last several years have suffered setbacks in clinical trials.
This news is significant on multiple levels. While it’s a step forward for the lupus community, it also underscores big pharma continuing to work with outside technologies – something we have talked about on this blog in the past. Importantly, this news also demonstrates how betting on the human genome is paying off in the discovery of new drugs. While it may have taken 18 years since the two companies partnered, it shows that patience has it rewards – in this case identifying functions of genes and their proteins and developing new drugs.
Large Medical Device Companies Look to M&A to Supplement Growth
Under increasing pressure to supplement product lines in markets that are flattening, large med-tech companies will continue to look to acquire smaller companies, according to a report published by the Walden Group. Examples include Novartis acquiring Nestle’s large stake in Alcon for $51.6 billion – one of the largest deals of 2010 - and one this blogger saw firsthand with our then client Invatec being acquired by Medtronic for $350 million. In addition, just this week Schwartz client Accuray announced it will buy TomoTherapy Inc. for $277 million. According to Medical Device Daily, the Walden Group expects the trend of big deals to continue with large companies looking to complement their offerings in their best growth markets.
As HealthLeaders and others reported, “The two nonprofit health plans signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding on January 25 as the first step in a possible merger of the organizations.”
However, they realized that the two companies are too different to see a productive and valuable union. “The efficiencies they wanted would be more difficult to achieve than initially envisioned and the integration of the two organizations would be more costly and time-consuming than anticipated.”
"As a result of this process, we have now determined that we are stronger as individual competitors than one company," said Eric Schultz, president/CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. "Both organizations will continue their work to keep high quality healthcare accessible and affordable, while at the same time investing in community programs and initiatives."
I think people were a bit surprised by this result given the many consolidations that have occurred over the past decade from both the payer and provider sides. Last October, the AMA News reported on insurer and hospital consolidation. In this piece, Emily Berry starts off by saying, “Health system reform, in combination with economic factors and trends in play, is expected to speed consolidation of health insurers and hospitals, leaving physicians to figure out how they should adapt.”
When consolidation does happen, it not only affects patients/consumers in the form of contract negotiations, costs, but also providers. And the effect on providers trickles down to patients as well.
In November 2010, Julie Miller of Managed Healthcare Executive wrote that consolidation is also going to heat up in healthcare for two reasons: the need for medical practices to gain more leverage; and the push to accountable care organizations.
On the one hand, having fewer plans could make it easier for consumers to interact directly with the plans. On the other hand it reduces competition among payers for physicians’ services. The smaller number of payers reduces physicians’ leverage, making it more difficult to drop bad contracts when there are fewer payers with whom to do business. And if providers are hurting, that hurt trickles to their customers, the patients.
James Roosevelt, Jr., president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan, stated in his interview with WBUR on March 4, “We have now a track method in Massachusetts of not only having the best hospitals, but also the best health plans and of having more people covered by health coverage than anywhere else in country. We are probably the place that now has the best potential in the country for moving to a system that is more convenient, has better outcomes, and controls costs in a much more effective way.”
So, although it might seem more efficient to size and combine forces, I applaud Tufts and Harvard for considering the many factors and consequences of consolidation, and knowing when to walk away for the better.
As healthcare PR practitioners, it is natural to get excited upon learning a patient experienced tremendous quality of life benefits after being treated with your client’s technology, but does that mean you are free to promote the heck out of that patient’s experience? What about a physician who is using your client’s technology successfully to treat patients for a condition not indicated as one of the conditions for which the product is FDA approved?
We live in an increasingly regulated environment in which CEOs and physicians can get in serious legal trouble if they fail to follow FDA guidelines regarding public promotion of medical technology. The healthcare practice at Schwartz Communications kicked off 2011 by participating in an extensive training series to stay abreast of the top regulatory considerations our clients need to keep in mind when communicating with the outside world. Here are a few of the top takeaways every healthcare PR practitioner needs to know:
Physicians and other third parties speaking to media are subject to the same scrutiny as the CEO of the company. When talking about an investigational product or off-label use of an approved product, advise spokespeople NOT to draw conclusions from clinical studies or their own clinical experiences. Rather, they should relay only quantitative and objective information. Citing study results is always a safe approach.
Promotional materials must be presented in a fair and balanced manner. It’s not OK only to talk about the benefits of a product. Side effects and/or complications must be included in documents such as press releases and press kit documents. Same goes for graphics and videos.
Always include the indications for use or prescribing label in promotional documents, or at least include a way for people to get that information. A best practice for press releases is to include contact information for Investor Relations to obtain the indications for use of an approved product.
While it’s vital PR practitioners are aware of and alert clients to the regulations as noted above, it is ultimately every company’s decision to determine the level or risk it is comfortable taking. We have done our jobs effectively so long as the company has been informed.
Congratulations to Schwartz Client Epocrates for being named to Fast Company's 50 Most Innovative Companies annual list! Epocrates is right up there with Apple, Twitter and Facebook. Not too shabby. And, they should be on the list. Almost half of U.S. physicians use Epocrates drug reference program. The platform allows doctors to quickly and efficiently access drug information. It's amazing. The next time you take your child to a doctor's appointment, or you go in yourself, ask yourself, is your doctor a superhero or might they be using the Epocrates solution?
Congrats to our client Superfocus! Not only were they featured on the nationally syndicated The Doctors program but their glasses were also launched into space on the final Discovery flight. Now that is truly out of this world! In both cases, the stories focus around the need for a better solution to presbyopia, the impact age has on the eye.
For many people who live with this condition (essentially everyone over the age of 45) the solution they are relying on - whether that is bifocals, reading glasses, swapping multiple glasses or progressive lenses - offers some relief. However, what The Doctors program as well as the NASA flight proves is that these traditional methods really only provide basic relief. It is when the people try on Superfocus adjustable glasses that precisely match your prescription is when they get a true “Ah Hah” moment and they realize what they have been missing.
Check out the reaction of a woman on The Doctors who was fitted on national TV with Superfocus glasses.
Here’s NASA TV and see Astronaut Benjamin Alvin wearing Superfocus glasses in space!
Given everyone knows someone these days suffering from a stuffy nose, sore throat or fever, this blog entry is dedicated to the latest news surrounding colds and flu. Happy reading and stay healthy! Achoo! The FDA Pulls Prescription Drugs for Coughs, Colds and Allergies
The FDA announced that it ordered about 500 prescription drugs used for the treatment of colds, coughs and allergies be removed from the market, citing that they had not gone through a federal review of their safety and effectiveness. Popular over-the-counter medications are not affected and since they are used more frequently than prescription drugs, it is not thought to have a significant impact on all those people struggling with stuffy noses and the sniffles this winter, including this blogger! According to an article in the New York Times, the FDA is on a campaign to remove unapproved drugs from the market, many of which have been on the market since before 1962 when a federal law required drives to undergo an agency review for safety and effectiveness.
Calming Fever Phobia
With fevers being the main reason for one-third of calls and visits to pediatricians and cause extreme worry in parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report that the number displayed on a thermometer is less important than making a feverish child feel more comfortable. An article in the Wall Street Journal reports that parents and caregivers should focus on the general well-being of the child, his/her activity level and observe the child for signs of serious illness and maintain appropriate fluid intake. The report, aimed at physicians, also states that there is no evidence that lowering a fever will help a child get well faster or if left untreated, could cause seizures, brain damage or death, as some parents and caregivers fear.
Computer-assisted surgery has been around for some time, but over the past few years more and more medical professionals are turning to robotics to enhance the “surgical experience” and achieve improved patient outcome.
Nevertheless, as with all change comes controversy. Many established physicians can’t help but wonder if robotics are threatening the future of their craft and replacing promising surgeons, or rather improving upon the current practice by providing greater precision and accuracy.
An example of the latter is the ROBODOC® Surgical System. In 1992, the ROBODOC® Surgical System made medical history as the first of its kind to be used on humans, assisting a surgeon in a Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA) procedure. This breakthrough opened the way to rapid development of 3-D image, directed, pre-operative planning, and computer guided robotic surgery. The ROBODOC® Surgical System has since been approved by the FDA for hip replacement, and this past May, the first commercial hip replacement surgery using the ROBODOC® Surgical System was performed by Dr. William Bargar at Sutter General in Sacramento, CA, the only U.S. based site to offer this procedure. To date, nearly 30 successful THAs have been performed with fantastic patient outcome.
The robotics of this particular system include 3-D preoperative surgical planning to virtually design the optimal implant location and orientation of the hip before surgery. After the pre-surgical plan is uploaded to the ROBODOC® Surgical Arm, the robot is staged in the operating room, followed by patient positioning, surgical incision and fixation. The surgeon maintains complete control of the robot as it executes the patient-specific plan. The surgical results provided by ROBODOC® Surgical System are exactly what have been planned because it provides consistent, reproducible precision in every procedure due to its unique active robotic technology. This precision reduces surgical complications and eliminates human error.
Despite having already assisted surgeons in over 24,000 successful joint replacement procedures around the world in Europe, Japan, Korea and India, the ROBODOC® Surgical System is just baby-stepping its way into the U.S. and has what appears to be a promising future. Of course, only time will tell if computer-assisted surgery will take off in the U.S. as it has done in other countries, or if it will be met with resistance. We’ll keep an eye out…
1. Over half of respondents identified government and/or regulators as being among the stakeholders with the greatest effect on their company’s value. 2. A large majority of respondents expect an increase in the government and regulators’ involvement in their industries. 3. A large majority of respondents say that the best way for companies to engage with government and/or regulators is on a proactive basis.
Additionally, over half of respondents in the healthcare, energy and financial sectors identified government/regulators as one of the groups they see as having the most influence over their company’s value in the next three to five years.
Schwartz Communications’ Public Affairs practice has consistently advised its clients to actively engage the government, because government and regulatory entities exert considerable influence over a wide variety of industries. A systematic, active Public Affairs campaign can help you gather on-the-ground intelligence that enhances your awareness and understanding of the latest government programs, regulations, initiatives, and priorities, and builds the relationships needed to capitalize on them.
Despite current budget-cutting efforts and strained federal and state budgets, Schwartz expects the role and influence of government to grow in the near future, and we look forward to continuing a history of success in advocating on behalf of our clients.
The McKinsey data illustrate the key points that Schwartz has espoused to clients in all industries, especially healthcare, energy and financial services, namely:
1. The government plays an important role in shaping your industry. 2. The size of that role is growing.