However, hospitals, health systems and physician's practices can breathe a sigh of relief. While the ONC has drafted preliminary recommendations for the final stage of the federal electronic health record (EHR) incentive program, the earliest the industry will see Meaningful Use Stage 3 is 2016. Stage 2 won’t even begin until 2014 for the earliest adopters.
Draft Stage 3 Rules: A Higher Threshold
Released in November 2012, the public comment period for the draft Stage 3 rules has already ended. The early stage objectives largely reaffirm Stage 2 goals and place higher thresholds for showing Meaningful Use. For example, the draft Stage 3 rules require hospitals and physicians to:
Use computerized provider order entry (CPOE) for referrals/transition of care orders directly entered by qualified licensed healthcare professionals. Stage 2 required CPOE only for medication, laboratory and radiology orders.
Implement 15 clinical decision support interventions or guidance related to five or more clinical quality measures that are presented at a relevant point in patient care for the entire EHR reporting period. This is an increase from the five required in Stage 2.
In addition, some Meaningful Use objectives and measures may be retired, including:
Recording patient demographics;
Recording and charting changes in vital signs; and
Recording smoking status for patients 13-years-old and older.
Many in the industry criticize other new objectives as being too difficult to achieve. For example, one new item would require providers to give 10 percent of patients the ability to submit patient-generated health information and request an amendment to their health record online. The rule is designed to either improve performance on high-priority health conditions and/or increase patient engagement in care. However, some physicians don't have control over patient behavior and may find it difficult to meet this requirement.
Another tentative Stage 3 rule could require physicians and hospitals to provide care synopses, setting-specific goals, and instructions for care during transitions of care. However, not all EHRs can be programmed to extract this additional data automatically.
Some organizations, like the American Medical Association, say that much of the Stage 3 criteria would be extremely difficult for physicians to meet, causing some practices to fall short of requirements and exposing them to lower Medicare payments.
Similarly, John Halamka, vice chair of the Standards Committee and CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said that while the Standards Committee generally agrees with ONC’s current goals for Stage 3, it is concerned about whether they are realistically achievable, considering that standards and interoperability for certain EHR functions and clinical procedures are still evolving.
The American Academy of Family Physicians went so far as to send a letter requesting that ONC delay implementation of Stage 3 until 2017. Glen Stream, AAFP board chair, wrote, "We remain concerned that HHS is attempting to raise the bar for what constitutes meaningful use before the majority of physicians and hospitals are able to achieve the meaningful use Stage 1 or 2 objectives"
According to a letter by EHRA: “The EHRA strongly recommends that Stage 3 focus primarily on encouraging and assisting providers to take advantage of the substantial capabilities established in Stage 1 and especially Stage 2, rather than adding new meaningful use requirements and product certification criteria. In particular, we believe that any meaningful use and functionality changes should focus primarily on interoperability and building on accelerated momentum and more extensive use of Stage 2 capabilities and clinical quality measurement.”
Ushering in New Models of Care
Overall, ONC designed Stage 3 to support new collaborative care models, with shared responsibility and accountability. ONC said that "Stage 3 is the time to begin to transition from a setting-specific focus to a collaborative, patient- and family- centric approach." Just how ONC will go about this should become clear as the healthcare industry trudges the road forward.
There will be several sessions pertaining to Meaningful Use at HIMSS13, and new to the show is the Meaningful Use Experience. This dedicated area for EHR vendors and providers will make it easy for attendees to find Meaningful Use products that have been certified to meet all mandatory criteria.
Thea Lavin, vice president at Schwartz MSL, will be at HIMSS and would be pleased to meet you to talk about meaningful use and other healthcare IT issues. You can reach her at 415-512-0770 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Thea Lavin
Posted by Davida Dinerman on February 15, 2013 at 12:58 PM
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Karen Malone, vice president of Meeting Services at HIMSS, has been overseeing events for more than 20 years. According to Malone, being in one place with your competitors, clients and prospective clients, as well as media, is important. Trade shows offer an effective face-to-face opportunity to see products and solutions, but also to build relationships. There are still lots of things to think about in the remaining weeks before the show, March 3-7 in New Orleans.
Scheduling Appointments - When it comes to scheduling appointments at the show, Malone has a 70/30 rule – schedule 70% of your meetings in advance, about seven to 10 days prior to the show, and leave 30% of your schedule free for last minute meetings. Malone suggests arranging meetings in the food court. Chat people up while you are standing in line for food and sit down with people to extend the conversation. “Exhibitors must take time to engage clients and prospects in conversation,” says Malone.
Visiting Booths - Is there a method to the madness of visiting booths? Malone says yes and no. Analytical people will have a show floor mapped out, while others will wing it. She also suggests visiting booths systematically. You can save a lot of time if you have a logical game plan.
Best Pre-Show To-Dos - Pre-show communications can set the tone and make or break the success of your conference participation. Let your customers and prospects know you will be at the show and schedule time to meet in advance. Create materials to take with you, such as a thumb drive of product information and press releases. Plan what you will discuss with clients and prospects. Malone advises first-time attendees or exhibitors at HIMSS to take advantage of webinars they offer which will help you prepare for the show. This year, HIMSS is also offering these conference prep webinars for show veterans.
Get Social: Lots of folks tweet during the show. HIMSS13 attendees can engage with HIMSS and get connected with industry colleagues before, during and after the conference through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. Use Twitter to get timely conference announcements and updates by following @HIMSS13 and HIMSS Staff, and build new relationships by following those who are using the hashtag #HIMSS13 in their tweets. Onsite, Twitter will be used for select educational sessions during Q&As, and the latest #HIMSS13 tweets will be displayed via screens in the Social Media Center, keynote sessions and more.
Go Green – HIMSS is trying to reach a paperless press room at the conference. Companies should consider paperless ways to distribute information to the media, prospects and partners, such as thumb drives or CDs. They can also send materials electronically after the show as part of their post-show follow up.
Be Comfortable - When you’re constantly on the go, you need to wear comfortable shoes and clothes. The current business casual styles allow you to look professional on the outside and feel relaxed on the inside.
Have Some Fun – There is so much to do in New Orleans so be sure to carve out some time for site seeing. And there is so much to do even for free --visit the French Quarter, catch some live music, take a streetcar or ferry ride, stroll the streets, sample the world-class Creole, Cajun and French cuisine. If you are a runner or walker, grab a map and sketch a route for a morning walk or run. Better yet, invite a client or prospect to join you.
What to Avoid Doing - If there is anything you should avoid it is poor booth etiquette. “We have seen exhibitors standing at the booth reading their iPad or a newspaper and not engaging with people coming to the booth,” says Malone. “Although they are at the show, they do not take full advantage of opportunities to speak with clients and prospects.”
After the Show - Post-show follow-up is critical. The real work starts when you get back to the office. Don’t just throw all those business cards in a drawer and plan to get to them soon. Instead, find creative ways to follow up as soon as you get back to your office -- connect on LinkedIn or Twitter, send prospects an interesting article. Develop ways to stay in touch that go beyond saying, "Why don't you buy something from me?"
A little more than a decade ago, our country experienced a devastating event – 9/11. That put a halt to business travel and trade shows. But as the saying goes, time heals all wounds. As such, travel and trade shows are on the rise. Karen Malone, vice president of Meeting Services at HIMSS, firmly agrees. Malone has been overseeing events for more than 20 years. HIMSS is one of the top trade shows for the healthcare IT arena. The show is scheduled for March 3-7, 2013 in New Orleans, when Hurricane Isaac will hopefully be a distant memory. It is never too early to start planning for a conference.
According to Malone, being in one place with your competitors, clients and prospective clients, as well as media, is important. Trade shows offer an effective face-to-face opportunity to see products and solutions, but also to build relationships.
Go or No Go - When trying to decide whether or not a trade show is a fit for you, Malone suggests contacting current and prospective clients and asking them if they are familiar with the show, if they have attended and what they think of the show. You need good references, and the best ones are your clients. Do your homework and find out where competitors are going. In addition, in her article titled, “10 Tips for Working Trade Shows,” Carol Tice suggests reviewing the speaker and attendee list, and reading the description and target audience.
Booth or No Booth - One of the biggest issues is the “booth or no booth.” Malone advises, “Know your strategy.” What is the product or solution you want to showcase, and what’s the best way to “be seen”? At HIMSS for example, instead of setting up your own booth, you can participate in a HIMSS Knowledge Center. The Center feature multiple vendors all focused on a particular solution or category, making it easier for attendees to find vendors of interest.
Scheduling Appointments - When it comes to scheduling appointments at the show, Malone has a 70/30 rule – schedule 70 percent of your meetings in advance, about seven to 10 days prior to the show, and leave 30 percent of your schedule free for last minute meetings. Malone suggests arranging meetings in the food court. Chat people up while you are standing in line for food and sit down with people to extend the conversation. “Exhibitors must take time to engage clients and prospects in conversation,” says Malone.
Visiting Booths - Is there a method to madness of visiting booths? Malone says yes and no. This is personality driven. Analytical people will have a show floor mapped out, and some people will wing it. Tice also suggests visiting booths systematically. As she puts it, “You can save a lot of time and shoe leather if you have a logical game plan.”
Best Pre-Show To-Dos - Pre-show communications can set the tone and make or break the success of your conference participation. Let your clients and prospects know you will be at the show and schedule time to meet in advance. Create materials to take with you, such as a thumb drive of product information and press releases. Plan what you will discuss with clients and prospects. Malone advises first-time attendees or exhibitors at HIMSS to take advantage of webinars they offer which will help you prepare for the show. This year, HIMSS is also offering these conference prep webinars for show veterans.
Be Comfortable - When you’re constantly on the go, you need to wear comfortable shoes and clothes. The current business casual styles allow you to look professional on the outside and feel relaxed on the inside.
Have Some Fun – If you are in an interesting city with opportunities for site seeing, and carve out some time for a tour. If you are a runner or walker, grab a map and sketch a route for a morning walk or run. Better yet, invite a client or prospect to join you.
What to Avoid Doing - If there is anything you should avoid it is poor booth etiquette. “We have seen exhibitors standing at the booth reading their iPad or a newspaper and not engaging with people coming to the booth,” says Malone. “Although they are at the show, they do not take full advantage of opportunities to speak with clients and prospects.”
After the Show - Tice offers some suggestions for post-show follow up as well. She says that the real work starts when you get back to the office. Don’t just throw all those business cards in a drawer and plan to get to them soon. Instead, find creative ways to follow up, as soon as you get back to your office -- connect on LinkedIn or Twitter, send prospects an interesting article. Develop ways to stay in touch that go beyond saying, "Why don't you buy something from me?"
“The biggest difference I have seen in trade shows since I started to work in this industry is technology,” says Malone. Although technology has helped more than it has hindered, technology can cause us to underestimate the value of face-to-face meetings and engagement. “Seeing a smile, talking with people directly and making eye contact go further than words in a text or email. There is still a time and a place for the personal exchange.”
Do you have any tips for preparing and working a trade show? We’d love to hear about them.
Posted by Davida Dinerman on September 19, 2012 at 3:20 AM
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Every healthcare marketer today understands that having a fantastic website isn't enough to draw in visitors. Spiffy design, carefully selected images, an executive's smart-sounding video and meticulously written content are wasted if your target audiences don't find the site when looking for information on the therapies, technologies or services your company provides.
Really, we all know that search engines have become a target audience to be served by PR pros. So if you're not factoring search into your healthcare PR strategy, you're missing an opportunity to connect with the people you most need to reach. In addition to helping key audiences find your medical organization online by tuning PR into search, you can substantially boost the effectiveness of your inbound marketing program and lead-generation process.
PR people can support SEO in several ways, and luckily, none of them are that tough to accomplish. Schwartz MSL's new ebook, "Healthcare SEO: Use PR to Support Communications with Patients, Payers and Providers," steps you through some practical things PR pros can do to help boost SEO results. We take a look at SEO factors that PR people can control, optimizing content, attracting valuable links and the role of social media in all of this. We've even got a few suggestions on things you can measure beyond your company's position on search engine results pages.
Happy reading ... we look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Posted by Laura Kempke on August 15, 2012 at 3:04 PM
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Each day, the Schwartz MSL Healthcare IT Practice shares news items on topics of interest with our clients. It goes without saying that the big news of the week was the Supreme Court’s decision largely upholding the healthcare law. Here are a few stories about that and other headlines.
Anna Wilde Mathews and others at the Wall Street Journal teamed up to write, “For Health Sector: Forward, March With Court Ruling, Industry Proceeds With Plans for Law's Implementation; One Hitch: Medicaid,” which outlines insights and commentary from insurers, hospitals, drug companies and employers. Michael B. McCallister, chief executive of insurer Humana Inc., summed it up by saying, "We'll just continue to do what we've been doing,"
Dan Bowman of FierceHealth IT reported on the CIO angle of the decision. Stephen Stewart, CIO of Pleasant, Iowa-based Henry County Health Center, said, “Health IT will only become more prominent as a result of this direction….Reform cannot be done without the prerequisite technology. Reform has to happen; it's just a matter of what it looks like. Long term, it bodes well for health IT.’”
Ken Terry wrote a good piece in InformationWeek Healthcare outlining the components that affect health IT. The ACA itself includes numerous components that affect health IT, including: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' shared-savings program for accountable care organizations, which need advanced IT systems; CMS' bundled payment pilot, which involves hospitals and physicians; a value-based purchasing program for hospitals; quality reporting initiative; the comparative effectiveness research program; state health insurance exchanges; administrative simplification requirements that involve standardization of rules for provider-health plan interactions.
Chris Anderson of Healthcare IT News wrote, “SCOTUS: Individual mandate is a tax, constitutional." “In what was a surprise to many court watchers, the deciding vote to uphold the individual mandate came from Chief Justice John Roberts. In rendering the decision the court did find the individual mandate to be unconstitutional when viewed through the lens of the Interstate Commerce clause, but that finding became moot once five of the jurists concluded that the fine levied against those individuals who refused to comply is a tax.”
In other news…
Physicians at 2,600 hospitals linked in new health care database
“What is being billed as the largest virtual health care community in the world is being launched online. It is expected to be the first of many efforts to put physicians in control of their performance improvement plans and to rely more on data in their day-to-day decision-making. PremierConnect, created by Premier and available June 25, a performance improvement alliance of more than 2,600 hospitals, will give physicians and health care systems easy access to a wide variety of data, including population information and patient-specific data.”
Survey says…Docs adopt and adapt to IT
The second annual National Physicians Survey, conducted by the little blue book and Sharecare, polled 1,190 U.S. practitioners representing more than 75 medical specialties. Results found that two out of three physicians say the integration of electronic medical records (EMRs) is among their practice challenges. Despite that, most doctors (66 percent) acknowledge EMRs will at least improve or have a neutral effect on their future business.
Medical Apps Under FDA Scrutiny
There are 40,000 medical applications available for download on smartphones and tablets, such as those to monitor blood pressure, screen yourself for depression and learn how to eat healthier. And the market is still in its infancy. Yet, the Food and Drug Administration is now trying to temper explosion. Some app developers are bristling at the thought of a rigid regulatory structure, which they fear will stifle innovation in an industry known for rapid growth and flexibility. Alain Labrique, who directs a global project at Johns Hopkins University dedicated to mobile health technology, says that while apps offer an exciting new opportunity in healthcare, "we also want to protect the public and be sure that medical claims are supported by data assessment and some comparison to a gold standard."
Posted by Davida Dinerman on June 30, 2012 at 1:00 PM
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Each day at Schwartz MSL, the Healthcare IT Practice shares news items on topics of interest to our clients. Following is a glimpse at some of the stories from the past week:
Too many patients, too little time
Kevin B. O'Reilly at American Medical News reported on a survey by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality which found that physicians, nurses and clerical support staffers in medical offices say the frenetic work pace and high patient volume are making it harder to provide quality care. Physician leaders, practicing doctors, and experts on quality improvement and practice management said the survey results illustrate how the pressure to see more patients in less time amid declining physician payment is placing strain on the professionals charged with delivering timely, effective and safe care.
Healthcare has caught the app trend
Doctors, hospitals and consumers are increasingly embracing mobile apps as an effective way to treat certain conditions, according to a recent survey and study of the mobile health market (mHealth) for PwC Global Healthcare by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Donna Fuscaldo of FOX Business wrote that the surge in smartphone use is spilling over into the mobile health market with consumers using apps to maintain their health by using apps to do everything from check their blood pressure, log calorie intake and even monitor sugar levels. Survey respondents ranked more convenient access to their healthcare provider, the reduction of out-of-pocket health-care costs and having greater control over their health as the top three reasons to use mHealth.
Stop the regulation madness to increase productivity
Three Boston-area neurologists, Dr. Allan H. Ropper, Dr. Anthony A. Amato and Dr. Martin A. Samuels, do not believe that meaningful use of EHRs is proven to reduce cost or improve care. They argue that “a surreal series of demands from insurance companies and Medicare for increasing amounts of documentation on every patient has produced large inefficiencies in modern medicine.” They also cite a recent study from NEJM discussing that pay for performance is not working, and conclude that we need to stop the regulation madness.
But people are still seeing the value of the EHR Incentive Program
In an interview with InformationWeek-Healthcare, Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator of Health IT, attributed the acceleration in the number of providers attesting to Meaningful Use and receiving Medicare payments partly to a change in attitudes: A growing number of eligible clinicians and hospitals, he said, now believe that Meaningful Use is an achievable goal. Through May, more than 110,000 eligible professionals and 2,400 hospitals had received payments totaling $5.7 billion under the electronic health record incentive programs of Medicare and Medicaid. That total exceeds the 100,000 providers HHS earlier predicted would receive payments by the end of this year.
New data standard for health information exchanges
Health information exchanges in nearly 30 states are using the Direct Project's clinical messaging protocol, and about a dozen more health data exchanges are expected to start using the standards this summer, according to a recent post on the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's "Health IT Buzz" blog. The Direct Project is a streamlined version of the Nationwide Health Information Network, a set of standards, specifications and services that offers a common platform for data exchange between disparate entities.
Too eager for health information exchanges?
“According to a 2011 KLAS report and a more recent Chilmark report, the health information exchange (HIE) market is poised for spectacular growth over the next couple of years.” Most of this growth will be driven more by private HIE efforts (enterprise efforts usually driven by a hospital system and/or physician organization) than by public ones (cross-organization regional or state collaborations usually seeded with government funds), but, regardless of what is driving it, the reality is that HIE is sprouting all around us. However, the studies also pointed out one concern - the propensity to pursue over-architected HIE solutions.”
ACO growth doubles in past year
“Even if the Supreme Court strikes down the healthcare law, two-thirds of providers say accountable care organizations will survive the repeal, according to a survey by business publisher Healthcare Intelligence Network this month. And, like another ACO report last week, the data indicate physicians are taking the helm and leading ACO development.
Today is the final day of AHIP’s Institute 2012 in Salt Lake City. Clients in the Schwartz MSL Healthcare IT practice, as well as journalists, look forward to this show to get the latest industry buzz. This is a time of big change for healthcare, and decisions that will shape the next phase of the industry are looming -- The SCOTUS decision on health care reform. The Presidential election. Compliance deadlines. These are just a few of the factors that are shaping the delivery of care.
Schwartz MSL spoke with a prominent reporter in the healthcare payer market, as well as a client, to get their take on the conference.
Julie Miller, editor-in-chief of Managed Healthcare Executive has attended AHIP’s Institute nearly every year for the past decade. She comments, “Every attendee at AHIP’s Institute has a solid grasp of the unsustainability of our current healthcare system and can offer real-world experience for controlling costs. The most valuable conversations happen in chance meetings and during networking breaks. I especially enjoy running into managed healthcare executives who can give me a heads up on their developing strategies, even before they're ready to officially launch them. I come away with excellent article ideas that I can follow up on throughout the year.”
Loren Finkelstein, director of public relations at The TriZetto Group (booth 732), shared his thoughts about the show. “The pending decision about healthcare reform is keeping us all on the edge of our seats. However, regardless of the results, healthcare organizations will continue to leverage technology to improve administrative efficiency, achieve compliance; and enhance the cost, quality and delivery of care in order to compete to win in an emerging consumer environment."
During scheduled workshops, on the exhibit floor and in impromptu hallway conversations, listen for probing, provocative dialogue about care coordination and patient engagement, greater payer-provider collaboration, and healthcare consumerism. Now more than ever, we see payers and providers rethinking the use of people, processes and technology to create personalized, valuable and actionable consumer experiences.
Eric Grossman, TriZetto’s vice president of enterprise strategy, presented findings of a survey on the value drivers that can help plans create an exceptional experience for consumers. This session also discussed the data-analytics capabilities that healthcare organizations will need to make this happen.
What did you most like about AHIP’s Institute 2012? Sound off in the comment section below or tweet us @SchwartzMSLPRx.
In today’s digital world, video has become a powerful way to share and consume information. According to a Forrester report, “Optimizing video content is by far the easiest way to get a first-page organic ranking on Google. Having a video on your homepage can increase your ranking by 50x.”
Perhaps the most powerful use of video in consumer healthcare is the patient testimonial, which allows companies to tell a story that viewers can relate to. As patients and their loved ones become “empowered consumers” and take a more proactive role in managing their health, videos such as these provide valuable information and may help inform treatment decisions.
However, not all patient stories are alike. The most successful ones require thoughtful preparation and planning. Having produced dozens of these types of videos for our clients, we are pleased to offer the following tips for success:
Tell a Good Story It may seem obvious, but if you’re not telling a good story, you may end up with the worst kind of video of all – a boring one. There are many variables to consider - patient age, location, and cost – but they should rank a distant second to a compelling narrative. Rather than ask the patient to look at the camera and simply recite their tale, develop a series of questions that will enable you to map out a story with a clear beginning, middle and most importantly, a happy ending.
Use a Physician Physician commentary is an important element of any patient video. A well-spoken doctor can properly position the impact of a medical condition on a person’s quality-of-life and provide a layman’s explanation of the benefits and side effects of a treatment.
Incorporate Emotion Perhaps the biggest advantage that video has over the printed word is the ability to convey emotion and as storytellers, it is our responsibility to communicate that emotion. While a tearful sound byte may be the first thing that comes to mind, sometimes a hug from a co-worker can be just as powerful. Music can also help set the proper tone for the video.
Keep it Visual The most effective patient videos incorporate a variety of visual elements beyond the sound bite. Relevant b-roll adds context to the sound bite and keeps the viewer engaged. Graphics and animation are also proven assets to create a visually appealing story.
Use the Proper Equipment Today, anyone with a smartphone can record video and upload it to the internet. However, production values still matter. Resist the urge to film on the cheap. Hire an experienced production team or if you do it yourself, use a broadcast quality HD camera on a professional grade tripod. Don’t forget a clip-on and/or overhead microphone to ensure the best audio quality. And make sure to use proper lighting. Additional tricks of the trade: be sure to close the blinds if the patient is sitting near a window and bring a basic makeup kit to avoid undue glare on the patient’s head or face.
Stay On-Label Imagine this scenario: you spent countless hours preparing for and producing a heartwarming patient video. You send the final version to the regulatory department for what should be an easy approval. However, you are horrified to discover that your physician made a claim about your product that is off-label. Even worse, the 17 year old patient who stole the show is one year younger than the indicated age on the labeling. Make sure this never happens to you by discussing all aspects of the video with your legal/regulatory officials prior to filming.
Script Efficiently After filming is completed, it is a virtual certainty that you will have far more content than you will need. Using a transcription service will enable you to select relevant sound bites significantly faster than spending countless hours pouring through footage. Equally important in the scripting process is the identification of the proper visual elements (animation, graphics, b-roll) that can be used in conjunction with each sound bite. Waiting to select the visuals until after the sound bytes are laid out will extend the editing process considerably.
Use an Experienced Editor Much like a top-flight chef can create an exquisite meal with just a handful of simple ingredients, a proficient editor can turn a good video into a powerful, visually stimulating story by adding creative touches that can only be picked up through years of experience. Be sure that your editor uses cutting-edge software programs such as Avid or Final Cut.
Check out the video below, which incorporates many of these helpful hints. The story chronicles Warren, a Long Island prostate cancer patient, as he undergoes 5 days of treatment with the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System (from client Accuray).
Each day at Schwartz MSL, the Healthcare IT Practice shares news items on topics of interest to our clients. Following is a glimpse at some of the stories from the past week:
Using the Internet for Diagnoses
A survey by Wolters Kluwer concluded that both consumers and healthcare professionals are turning to the Internet for information about diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. The survey also showed a high level of trust among consumers who seek medical information online. You can read more about this in Nicole Lewis’ article in InformationWeek Healthcare.
The Role of the Physician in the Future
The Economist had a big spread last week about “squeezing out the doctor,” which stated that by 2030, 22% of people in the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) club of rich countries will be 65 or older, nearly double the share in 1990. But as chronic disease continues to rise, the demand for health care looks unlikely to be met by doctors in the way the past century’s was. Doctors look set to become much less central to health care—a process which, in some places, has already started.
Keys to Building a Successful ACO
Healthcare Finance News reported that to date, 32 organizations across the country are participating in the Pioneer ACO initiative, hoping to inspire others in their regions to follow suit. As the benefits of adopting this model become clear, more organizations are looking to explore the possibility of becoming an ACO. Michelle McNickle listed seven key elements to building a successful ACO including aligning the payment model with value, and developing the data model, IT infrastructure and tools to support reporting and analytics.
Benefits for Hospitals to Go Green
There are many reasons for a hospital to go green that executives understand well. There are the cost savings, the merits of taking on a social responsibility to foster community engagement and the awards and recognition attendant to taking on environmentally friendly practices. But green initiatives can also support marketing initiatives in three surprising ways.
EHR Incentive Payments Top $5B in Under 1 Year
More than $5 billion has been paid to eligible professionals and hospitals under the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record incentive payment programs since the Medicare program began in May 2011 and the Medicaid program began in January 2011, according to a CMS report. In April, 86 more hospitals signed up for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs, bringing the total number of registered hospitals to 3,569.
Mostashari: HIPAA Rules Out by Summer's End
The final omnibus HIPAA rule governing the privacy, security, breach notification and enforcement rules, and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, should be out by the end of summer, says Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator for health information technology. Mostashari also emphasized that awareness of the importance of technical and cultural considerations to assure privacy protections are at the center of everything ONC does.
Each day at Schwartz MSL, the Healthcare IT Practice shares news items on the latest industry trends. Following is a glimpse at some of the most relevant story highlights from the past week:
As a part of its annual Healthcare Informatics 100 issue, featuring a unique compilation of the top IT vendor companies in healthcare by revenue, Jennifer Prestigiacomo also profiles a few of the year’s “Most Interesting Vendors.” Congratulations to Schwartz MSL clients Zynx Health and DiagnosisOne. Zynx Health is one of two companies dominating the evidence-based and consensus-based physician order sets area. DiagnosisOne provides clinical decision support tools, as well as offers clinical analytics that can help meet ACO requirements and manage patient populations.
During a recent webinar, Manhattan Research’s VP of Research Monique Levy discussed survey results and said that smartphone adoption among physicians has started to level off, but there’s been an explosion of adoption in tablets. In fact, 62 percent now have some kind of tablet device, almost twice as many as last year. The biggest surprise Manhattan Research encountered during its survey was a lack of mobile offerings that help enable the “swivel effect” where the physician flips the screen around to explain something to their patients.
In her article ‘High Court Ruling Not Expected to Impair Health IT,” Paula Blasi of iHealthBeat speaks with experts about one component of the health reform law that has had a steady stream of support from across the political spectrum: health IT.
According to EHR Intelligence, physicians have a great opportunity in front of them to adopt EHR systems and get paid to do so. These payments may help defray the cost of implementation and possibly give doctors a little extra money for their troubles. However, physicians must complete their EHR implementation and attest to having met all the requirements of meaningful use before the end of 2012 in order to earn the full amount possible.
A quick post on MD News reveals 5 reasons why hospitals fail. These include: An uninformed or under-informed marketing strategy, unmeasured decisions and poor understanding of customer needs.
Thank you for reading. You can also follow us on Twitter at @SchwartzMSLPRx.
PRSA of Boston hosted a summit on social media yesterday. Presenters from various industries including healthcare discussed the current state of social media as a marketing tool.
Key takeaways: 1) Have an organizational strategy All too often, we get caught in a discussion about social media tactics (should we do Facebook or Twitter?). On an enterprise level, a company has to be in agreement on strategy and the potential risks versus rewards. This is especially critical in healthcare social media. Bruce Weinberg, Marketing and E-Commerce Department Chair at Bentley University, presented his study on social media strategies, published in the Harvard Business Review. The study analyzed companies participating in social media and grouped them into 4 categories: • Predictive Practitioner (Clorox, which gradually entered into social media by focusing on discrete business problems in a targeted way) • Creative Experimenter (EMC, which was willing to experiment with various social media tactics before analyzing which would be the most effective) • Social Champion (Ford, for its Fiesta campaign that put the power in the hands of the user) • Social Transformer (Cisco, which took an enterprise-wide approach to social media engagement)
2) Amplify your content Marketers are both interested and perplexed by how to “extend the reach” of social media content. If you tweet at the wrong time on the wrong day, does anyone see it? How can you extend the reach of that post, or a piece of earned media coverage? Tactics discussed included:
- Sharing reactions as content – if someone responds or reacts to your post, can you turn that reaction into more content? - Syndicating content – typically a paid approach, content can be syndicated through Facebook ads, paid links on key web pages. - Creating groups of stakeholders who are responsible/motivated to share your content (such as GaggleAMP) – this could be users, employees or other key stakeholders. 3) Consider your audience In healthcare, the target audience is often patients. Rhonda Mann, Chief Marketing Officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center shared some insight into BIDMC’s strategies to attract patients. Mann shared a statistic from the Healthcare Research Institute that 45% of consumers say social media sources would affect their decisions – and she believes this is not generational. BIDMC finds YouTube to be the most effective in reaching patients as it allows for creative and dynamic content to be shared, while still allowing for direct customer or patient response via comments. Mann did note that security is perhaps the biggest issue in healthcare social media.
Which social media channel are you using successfully reach your critical audiences? Please contact us to discuss your social media strategy.
Each day at Schwartz MSL, the Healthcare IT Practice shares news items on the latest industry trends. Following is a glimpse at some of the most relevant story highlights from the past week:
Susan D. Hall of FierceMobile.com wrote an interesting piece based on the friendly point-counterpoint articles at Forbes, where contributors Dave Chase and David Shaywitz faced off on the question of whether mobile apps could someday be more effective than prescription drugs. In her piece titled, “Debate: Can mobile apps achieve what pills can't?” she asks whether apps pose a threat to the pharma industry or if pharma should get its head (and money and people) in the game?
John Sharp of Healthcare IT News put his predictions on the line in his piece titled, “A Look at Social Media in Health Care -- Two Years Later.” Since 2010, pharmaceutical companies have joined startups, patient communities and providers in the social media realm. Many startups, particularly those enabling patient communities, have matured and broadened their scope. He also takes a stab at the next two years. If you are a mobile app provider, you’re in the right place as John believes that the app world has widely expanded how social media can impact care, and it holds much promise in the future.
Pam Dolan at American Medical News wrote about a study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Medical Information Association about members of the MidSouth eHealth Alliance in Memphis in her article titled, “Study highlights how health information exchange can cut costs.” During a 13-month period in which emergency physicians were given access to patient information through a health information exchange, there were reduced admissions and costs associated with cases for which the HIE was accessed. The results were a testament to the act of exchanging information, said Mark Frisse, MD, one of the study’s authors.
According to Nicole Lewis of InformationWeek-Healthcare, “The federal government's incentive programs for the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) is widening the digital divide between large and small providers.” This came from an online study in Health Affairs which reported that the 15% gap in EHR adoption between small and large hospitals seen in 2010 has grown to nearly 22% in 2011.
Ken Terry of FierceHealthIT was one of many who reported on the web-based tool which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched to make it easier to find detailed U.S. healthcare industry data. His story titled, “HHS' Measurement Project presents comprehensive data on U.S. healthcare system,” discussed how The Health System Measurement Project will allow policymakers, providers and the public to develop consistent data-driven views of changes in critical U.S. health system indicators. The project combines datasets culled from a number of different federal agencies. The data spans topic areas such as access to care, cost and affordability, prevention and health information technology. It presents these indicators by population characteristics, such as age, sex, income level, insurance coverage and geography.
Schwartz MSL spoke with David Collins, MHA, CPHQ, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, senior director of professional development at HIMSS, to learn more about the upcoming Government Health IT Conference and Exhibition, which will take place at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC, June 11 – 12. Already in its eighth year, the theme of the show is appropriately named 2012: The Year of Critical IT Decisions to Transform Healthcare.
David, why should healthcare marketers, even those in the private sector, consider going to this show?
An organization doesn’t need to be in the public sector to gain the benefits of the topics and sessions we’ll be offering. There will also be an exhibit hall and an Interoperability Showcase. People can network with those with whom they might not ordinarily network in a smaller setting for a reasonable period of time. We are expecting a record 550 attendees this year. Our sessions cover a range of topics from HIE and patient engagement to Beacon Communities, mobile devices and telemedicine. These topics relate to the day-to-day use of healthcare IT.
We also have formidable keynote speakers from the Department of Defense, Veteran Affairs and CMS on the front and back end including: Karen S. Guice, M.D., M.P.P., principal deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Barclay Butler, Ph.D. - director, Interagency Program Office of the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Vish Sankaran, senior advisor, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
What are some of the topics the sessions will be covering?
Through networking opportunities, panel discussions, case studies and demonstrations involving the federal experts responsible for developing and implementing policy, attendees will gain a deeper understanding of how they can be more effective in advancing initiatives in the public sector.
We are pleased at the depth and breadth of topics we’ll be covering in three tracks. The first track is called, Innovative Knowledge Exchange, which aligns well with HIEs. It will cover private HIE successes and the government’s efforts in this area. There will be some great lessons to be learned bi-directionally with respect to infrastructure, security, buy-in from all levels and patient engagement.
The second track, The Changing Landscape of Health IT, will address the many moving parts among areas such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), ICD-10 and meaningful use. Participants will learn the best approaches to providing patient care and conducting business in today’s volatile public policy environment to truly transform healthcare. This track will also include a panel of people from the HIMSS legal task force, the American Health Lawyers’ Association and the American Bar Association to speak to the potential impact of the Supreme Court’s decision on the PPACA.
There will also be an Industry Solution Sessions track, in which sponsors will showcase real-life implementation experiences and share case studies and practical solutions. This year’s focus includes: The role of the connected consumer, mobile health and return on health IT investment.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes, we recorded a radio panel titled, "Health IT: A Policy Change Agent," on WTOP radio which aired today. Moderated by HIMSS Executive Vice President Carla Smith, the panelists, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James Peake, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and ONC’s Deputy National Coordinator for Programs and Policy (and HIMSS board liaison) Judy Murphy covered a range of hot topics:
1. The Impact of the Supreme Court’s Decision on the Affordable Care Act 2. Health Information Exchange: Challenges & Opportunities, Bridging Private & Public HIEs 3. Beacon Communities: Lessons Learned 4. Clinical/Business Intelligence: Harnessing Data to Inform Decision Making 5. eConnecting with Consumers: Provider/Patient Engagement through Health IT 6. Meaningful Use as a Catalyst 7. Harnessing & Streamlining the power of Health IT
This was a dynamic conversation with rich exchange and insight into how policy is shaping health IT, and how health IT is helping to drive engagement and improved outcomes in the healthcare industry. Many of these topics will be addressed at the Government Health IT Conference 2012 by experts from both the private and federal sectors.
If you would like to learn more about the show, feel free to contact David Collins at email@example.com.
Each day at Schwartz MSL, the Healthcare IT Practice shares news items on the latest industry trends. Following is a round-up of some of the most relevant story highlights from the past week:
According to Don Berwick, former CMS administrator, $1 out of every $3 spent on healthcare is wasted. In an article by Frank Vinluan of MedCity News titled, “Don Berwick on healthcare spending: ‘We have to improve our way out of this’,” he cited Toyota as an example of a company that realized performance improvements by changing processes. In Japanese, the word for continuous improvement is ‘kaizen.’ These efforts generate new efficiencies, which in turn reduces costs. This is a good example of how healthcare can learn from other industries.
Sara Jackson of Healthcarevendorsdaily.com wrote an article stating that high prices and technology costs are what are driving skyrocketing healthcare costs in the U.S., not high utilization rates, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund.
A recent survey from ZocDoc and Harris Interactive found that digitally-savvy Gen Y adults (those between the ages of 18 and 34) think health care is so frustrating that more than half said they delay medical care because the process is a “pain.” Read more in Ki Mae Heussner’s article titled, “How can tech help health care target Gen Y?” in GigaOm.
Nicole Lewis of InformationWeek-Healthcare wrote, “ACOs Need Better Data Transparency, Management,” which quoted Cynthia Burghard, research director at IDC Health Insight, as saying, “As IT executives at health plans and healthcare delivery organizations strive to establish successful accountable care initiatives, they'll need to develop more transparent procedures and practices as they analyze business and clinical data.”
In his article titled, “Stage 2 Crunch Time Comes for CMS,” Joe Goedert of Health Data Management summarized what different constituencies think of the Meaningful Use Stage 2 proposal , “Following established patterns, providers and vendors in unison sent an overriding message to CMS on requirements of the proposed rule: ‘Too much, too fast.’ Consumer groups had a far different message: ‘Good start, but give us more.’ Providers and vendors want a 90- or 180-day reporting period for the first year of Stage 2 instead of a full year.
Many frustrated providers are asking whether mandated quality measures, and all the work they have to do to collect them, will really improve quality. The problem is that many of these measures, such as those evaluating stroke care or prevention of thromboembolism, were endorsed in settings that used hand-written notes in medical records. Now those notes must be adapted for use by EHR systems. Cheryl Clark of HealthLeaders Media goes into more depth in her article, “Meaningful Use Quality Measures May Be Meaningless.”
“Chilmark report sees HIEs moving into 'post-EHR era,'” wrote Mike Miliard in Healthcare Payer News. While some $560 million in federal health information exchange funding may soon run dry, changing reimbursement models mean market-driven growth will continue, says the new report on HIEs from Chilmark Research. Increasing HIE technology adoption is spurred by two factors, say researchers. First is the need to meet proposed Stage 2 meaningful use requirements, which puts a far greater emphasis on data exchange. Second, and more crucially, big changes on the horizon with regard to reimbursement means that healthcare organizations are implementing HIE technology to support community-wide care coordination.
Each day at Schwartz MSL, the Healthcare IT Practice shares news items on the latest industry trends, news, insights and events. Here are the recent highlights from the past week:
When our nation’s health IT chief Farzad Mostashari speaks, it’s usually a good idea to listen. In this article by Diana Manos of Healthcare IT News titled, “Mostashari: 'Keep our eyes on the prize,” he urged the audience at the National Quality Forum to put the patient at the center of care delivery. He emphasized that quality is the cornerstone of what needs to be done. Other issues included “use the market,” “watch out for the little guy,” and “focus on what matters.”
Dan Bowman of FierceHealthIT reported on a new study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation on data use in both patient care and medical research. In the article, “Increased big data access could help lower health costs,” the authors say that all of the nonprofit organizations that study disease should collaborate to build a national health database. Future job-related health benefits packages could provide direction on how employees could contribute their own health information to such a database.
As they prepare to convert to the ICD-10 coding standard, nearly half of providers nationwide are planning to purchase an inpatient computer-assisted coding (CAC) solution within the next two years, according to a new report from KLAS, writes Bernie Monegain of Healthcare IT News, ICD-10 is the major motivator for these providers to look at a CAC solution, as they believe it can make up for some of the lost productivity and reimbursement that ICD-10 will create, researchers state in the report, ‘Computer-Assisted Coding: A Glimpse at the Future of HIM Technology.’
“While a majority of hospital CIOs responding to a recent survey conducted by healthsystemCIO.com say they are participating in regional health or system-to-system information exchange efforts, not all of the respondents have faith in such efforts,” wrote Dan Bowman of FierceHealthIT in his piece “Many hospital CIOs skeptical of HIE efforts.” Overall, 58 percent of the 174 respondents say their organizations are currently participating in regional or system-to-system HIE efforts. And 80 percent said integration with outside providers is a top three priority. About 21 percent say that while they are hopeful, they need to see more results before passing judgment.
Many hospital and health system administrators are expressing doubt about their ability to meet new EHR standards, according to survey results published by KPMG. In Kathleen Roney’s Becker’s Hospital Reviewarticle, she reports that seventy-one percent of healthcare business leaders who participated in the KPMG survey said they were more than 50 percent of the way to completing EHR system adoption. However, 39 percent said they were only somewhat confident and 10 percent did not know their readiness level at all in meeting meaningful use Stage 2 requirements.”
We read in FierceEMR’s “AHRQ: EHR use should be increased,” that electronic health records should be adopted by more providers and by a wider range of provider types, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ's) latest health care quality and disparity reports.
Don Fluckinger of Search Health IT wrote, “iPad EHR interoperability progressing as virtualization improves.” He said CIOs increasingly view iPad EHR implementations as a way to promote meaningful use compliance among physicians, who love the device. The increase in iPad EHR use also pushes some facilities closer to joining the BYOD (bring your own device) movement, which brings its own security and compliance challenges.
And here is some perspective straight from the doctors themselves. At the recent conference of the California Academy of Family Physicians, Robert Rowley, MD, had an opportunity to give a talk on various aspects of using health IT in clinical practice. He documented his thoughts in this piece titled, “What Are the Experiences of Family Physicians with Their EHRs?” which appeared in EHR Bloggers. One talk was on “High tech, high touch healthcare,” which focused on methods to avoid having the EHR get in the way of the interpersonal doctor-patient relationship. The other talk was on “Measuring patient engagement.” In the piece, he asked such questions as “Who chooses which EHR to use?” and ”Do physicians love their EHR, hate it, or are they somewhere in the middle?” I don’t think the results are surprising, but EHR vendors should heed their advice.
Last month, Schwartz MSL spoke with David Collins, MHA, CPHQ, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, senior director of professional development at HIMSS, to reflect on this year’s event and get a sense for what we might expect next year at “HIMSS Changes Healthcare and the Big Easy” in New Orleans. Since then, HIMSS has opened the call for speaker proposals, which will be available until May 30.
HIMSS’s Annual Conference offers more than 240 general education sessions that are selected from a peer-reviewed process. Last year, HIMSS received 775 speaking proposals, and David expects the same or more for the 2013 conference. Topic examples include health information exchange and interoperability, mobile health, usability and workflow, and enhanced communication between providers and patients (e-connecting with the consumer).
David said that HIMSS will still offer introductory, intermediate and advanced-level presentations, but they have provided cleaner definitions as part of the submission process to make it easier for submitters and ensure they balance information for all three audiences.
How can you differentiate yourself for next year’s selection? David offered three pieces of advice:
Offer an end user case study- HIMSS13 will continue to focus on demonstrating the benefits and ROI of what has been accomplished through a healthcare IT implementation. This means you should offer an end user as the primary speaker. HIMSS is particularly interested in case studies of how health IT is being used to garner clinical and business intelligence to impact care coordination, outcomes improvement, workflow, administrative and cost-efficiencies; increased effectiveness and efficiency in the provision and payment of care; innovation; leadership; and change management.
Get into the right category - In an effort to be as targeted as possible, HIMSS is offering 21 speaking categories, down from 23. They expanded some categories and folded some topics together. Be sure to review the categories and their definitions. If the reviewers understand your category and see a fit, it will give the proposal a better chance of being accepted.
David offered insight into some of the key categories for 2013. “Clinical Business Intelligence” is high on the list. HIMSS has also blended “Financial Information Systems and Business Operations Optimization” together, as well as “EHRs and Enterprise Information Systems”. However, they split up “IT Infrastructure and Architecture” and “IT Standards and Interoperability.”
“Leadership and Governance” has been changed to “Leadership, Governance, Strategic Planning and Clinician Engagement.” There is also a separate category for “Patient Engagement.” Devices used to be its own bucket, but with the emphasis on safety, they found it made sense to combine “Medical Device Integration” with “Patient Safety and Quality.” The category “Patient-centered Initiatives” is appropriate for care coordination, accountable care organizations, pharma/life sciences IT and payer/health plan IT.
Additionally, the Interoperability Showcase will not be on exhibit floor next year, but rather in a separate ballroom among the educational sessions to make them more accessible.
Make your point quickly– You should assume industry knowledge on the part of the reviewers, so save your word count for the meat of the proposal. For example, there is no need to spell out ARRA and define its background. Spend more time on what the proposal will address, as well as the learning objectives and outcomes. If you are offering research and must explain your methodology, that is understandable. Either way, be sure the write-up is not a commercial for a product (even if you offer a customer, reviewers can smell a sales pitch a mile away). Make it timely, relevant, and with a real-world, practical approach.
As to the review process, to ensure a fair assessment, every single proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three volunteer reviewers, who meet throughout the summer to evaluate proposals. The committee then selects initial proposals in early Fall.
BREAKING: HHS announces intent to delay ICD-10 compliance date
Since this blog was posted, according to a press release issued today, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen G. Sebelius today announced that HHS will initiate a process to postpone the date by which certain health care entities have to comply with ICD-10. Read more here.
News surfaced earlier this week that the CMS will reconsider the timeline for ICD-10 implementation. This comes as a relief to many healthcare providers who are trying to balance time and resources for ICD-10 compliance, in addition to meaningful use, EHR adoption, e-prescribing and other major initiatives.
ICD-10, the latest update to the World Health Organizations’ medical classification list for the coding of medical diagnosis and inpatient procedures, is currently mandated to be used by healthcare providers and payers by October 1, 2013. A move from ICD-9 (currently in place) to ICD-10 will require providers and payers to switch over claims and billing systems to account for more than 50,000 new medical diagnosis codes and 70,000 new procedure codes.
With pressure and complaints mounting from healthcare organizations juggling Meaningful Use deadlines, ramped-up security and privacy compliance, and various other healthcare reform-related mandates, CMS will "reexamine the timeframe" for ICD-10 through a rulemaking process which CMS is expected to elaborate on in coming days, CMS acting administrator Marilyn Tavenner reportedly said at a American Medical Association Advocacy conference in Washington, D.C. today.
This re-examination by the CMS follows widely publicized appeals by leading healthcare organizations, including large hospitals and health systems, and healthcare provider associations. Some organizations went further. Most notably, earlier this year, Dr. James Madara, the AMA's executive vice president and CEO, petitioned House Speaker John Boehner and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to suspend ICD-10 implementation.
Alternatively, other industry organizations, such as AHIMA, have cautioned healthcare providers not to wait around assuming the deadline will be pushed. ICD-10 still does have tremendous industry support and is recognized as a way to deliver procedural improvements, better track care and potentially improve quality, while reducing healthcare costs. In addition, advances in technology and the emergence of a new generation of data and analytics companies will aid the smooth transition to ICD-10.
As evidenced by this graph, the opportunity for solutions providers who address ICD-10 needs has been steadily growing.
The debate will continue and we expect ICD-10 to be central to many discussions at HIMSS 2012 next week. In fact, there are at least 40 educational sessions covering ICD-10, offering practical tips, short- and long-term impact on individual practices and more detailed analyses. The ICD-10 Knowledge Center (Booth 14542, Hall G) will also be offering sessions offered and advice to providers and payers on how to navigate the transition.
Schwartz MSL looks forward to attending next week’s conference. We will be following ICD-10 and other conversations, and reporting back via the Schwartz MSL PRx Health Blog. Check back next week for posts from the show floor.
What does a world renown basketball coach, a finance executive, a healthcare executive and an author have in common? They keynoted at HFMA’s 2011 ANI Conference in June. The HFMA is the nation's leading membership organization for healthcare financial management executives and leaders, with more than 37,000 members.
The conference coordinators are already planning for next year’s event on taking place June 24-27, 2012, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Convention Center in Las Vegas. You can submit speaking proposals until September 9.
Here are highlights from the 2011 conference keynote presentations and a few links to whet your appetite for 2012:
Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, Head Coach, Duke University and U.S. Olympic championship basketball teams suggests that people “feel what they do in their hearts” in Victory through Teamwork and Leadership.
How can healthcare finance professionals help their teams reach their greatest potential during a period of great change, fear, and stress throughout the industry? Mark Thompson, former chief customer experience officer for Schwab, and author of Success Built to Last shared five principles for managing change in Success Built to Last.
With four days of educational sessions, including early riser sessions and pre-conference workshops, the learning never stops and neither does the professional development. Attendees include CFOs, controllers and accountants at hospitals, vendors, consulting firms and academia. There were nearly two dozen high level media people in attendance, resulting in a flurry of news articles. The coordinators expect to meet or exceed that number in 2012.
Other opportunities include sponsored special events and the Conference Exhibit Hall with more than 400 top industry suppliers, the ANI Product Showcase, networking and chapter awards.
The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) provides the resources healthcare organizations need to achieve sound fiscal health in order to provide excellent patient care. With more than 37,000 members, HFMA is the nation's leading membership organization of healthcare finance executives and leaders. HFMA helps its members achieve results by providing education, analysis, and guidance, and creating practical tools and solutions that optimize financial management. The organization is a respected and innovative thought leader on top trends and challenges facing the healthcare finance industry. From addressing capital access to improved patient care to technology advancement, HFMA is an indispensable resource on healthcare finance issues. www.hfma.org
Modern Healthcare, the HFMA show daily, posted excellent interviews and videos recapping each day. You can view these videos here: http://bit.ly/oRGJdW
Have you started planning for HFMA 2012? Contact our Healthcare IT team at 781-684-0770 or healthcareIT@schwartzcomm.com to discuss your plans and gain some advice on how to get the most of out of the conference.
Pharmaceutical companies are starting to reel back on the social media front with Facebook's latest move to make pages more open by enabling comments. Facebook has made consistent strides to become an even more transparent platform, often to the chagrin of the legions of users. So, in some ways, why would they treat pharmaceutical brands any differently?
Is this impacting how pharmaceutical marketers view the value of Facebook? Absolutely. This week, there has been a fair amount of discussion and pre-emptive moves from pharmaceutical giants to remove pages. Once the new Facebook policy goes into effect next week, we will likely see an additional wave of conservatism sweep the pharmaceutical marketing landscape. Surprising? Probably not. However, the universe of social media users is only growing, not shrinking, so it becomes a real challenge to weigh the risk versus reward scenarios.
Our own observations indicate that pharmaceutical marketers have already been leery of entering the unknown foray of especially since there isn't any guidance from FDA on best practices and there isn't any plan to release specific guidance in the near term.
We conducted a survey of medical device social media gurus and marketers, which indicated medical device companies are actively using social media ahead of their pharmaceutical counterparts. There is a clear opportunity and need to share best practices in several areas that could even further accelerate medical device social media engagement.
If you haven't already done so, download our free eBook on social media for healthcare marketers. We offer some practical guidance on how marketers can engage in social media while FDA guidelines lag.
Working with medical device, medical tech and pharma companies, social media is top of mind.
Healthcare marketers grapple with timing, resources, and understanding the appropriate/effective mix of social media tactics in a communications program. We counsel our clients all the time and field the questions: How much should we/can we engage? What should we post? Are we doing enough? What are your other clients doing? Some are understandably cautious and some are trailblazers.
There are plenty of ways for marketers to engage in social media initiatives today that align with your overall marketing goals. Schwartz Communications runs successful social media campaigns for our healthcare clients with business-impacting results and we'd be happy to help you.
Download our free social media eBook to learn best practices and guidance for social media. It includes the results of a survey we conducted with regional medical device trade association MassMEDIC to learn what healthcare marketers are doing or not doing with social media, as well as suggestions on how to navigate internal regulatory and legal waters. Find out which types of social media tools have been most effective for healthcare organizations and our seven basic tips for social media participation. You'll also get interesting perspective from David Harlow, lawyer and author of HealthBlawg.
Do you have questions about your own foray into social media? Do you have a social media policy or need help creating one? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So another BIO is over, and despite some groans from my Nordic friends that it was eating into their sacrosanct summer vacations, it seems a good and profitable time was had by all. Funny, since I would think that the casual observer would see BIO as more of as a celebration of all things biotech rather than a business arena. Walk down the aisles of the exhibition hall and you are serenaded by a succession of international pavilions, each trying to outdo the other and impress with the size of its commitment to this politically sexy sector. In fact, BIO seemed determined to prove itself as flashy as those other current upstarts in the glamour stakes – cleantech and mobile apps. From iPads to Harleys, the competition was myriad, while the live entertainment ranged from Hong Kong drummers to the now traditional ABBA tribute band. By the way it constantly amazes me that whichever city the convention pitches up in – Chicago, San Diego, Atlanta - the Scandinavian Pavilion always seems to rustle up a fully believable ABBA band – how many of them are actually out there?
Not to be outdone, the various US states also have their pavilions, with Massachusetts determined to reassert itself as the Daddy of all Biotech clusters. Governor Deval Patrick was pitching his commitment and next year’s “Road to Revolution” theme as the 2012 conference is coming home to Boston as he put it. But is it all necessary?
I look after the Norwegian contingent – a record 24 companies this year – and both they and my contacts at other pavilions all reported that casual visitors are by far the minority. Most visitors come already with a clearly researched list of who they want to talk to. So surprise #1.
The second is that year after year, the BIO partnering set-up delivers. Again my contacts reported that notwithstanding the to-be-expected pitches from professional service providers, the vast majority of their partnering meetings were excellent and productive. So the basics are in place – the world of biotech comes to BIO to do business. Nevertheless, it seems to me BIO sometimes forgets this – they went completely overboard on social media this year. Time and time again I heard the refrain: BIO is late this year, I haven’t had time to look at any of that stuff. I’ve arranged my appointments and I know I’ll bump into old contacts I need to catch up with either on the exhibition floor or at a reception.
In fact, the one innovation that to my mind improved BIO the most this year was completely fortuitous. The exhibit hall in Washington D.C. was very narrow and the reduced number of aisles ensured that visitors could see all the stands in just a couple of swift logical sweeps rather than the usual haphazard meander associated with other venues.
Finally, a word of caution. BIO seems to be a bit complacent about 2012 and expects a bonanza with a record number of visitors in Boston, over 25,000 I heard. This ignores the fact that most European stands at least were budgeted for last year, before the full impact of the cuts. Thus it will be interesting to see, not mentioning any countries in particular, who retains their commitment to biotech next year!
In part two of our extended conference recap, we explore some of the panel themes that were up for discussion at the First Annual Health Tech 2011 conference in Boston last Friday, May 13. The emerging and converging sectors of technology, mobile, and social have begun to transform how healthcare is defined Innovation in Wellness: Applying Game Dynamics to Healthcare
Throughout the entrepreneur panel sessions, an overarching theme emerged around the gamification of healthcare. Maintaining good health requires daily commitment and action over time but most consumers tend to have short attention spans. To combat this challenge, companies like Earndit and Shape Up are applying game dynamics to make the platform more engaging and easy to use, while adding tangible incentives and peer-to-peer support systems to encourage sustained adoption. Innovation in Healthcare Delivery: Virtual Consults to Become Commonplace
Many of the “buzz” startups are B2C, but there is a tremendous need and opportunity for start-ups designing tools and products for healthcare providers as well. To that end, Ron Dixon director of the Virtual Practice Project at Massachusetts General Hospital is developing a kiosk-based system for automating aspects of the care delivery process to improve efficiency and better manage patient populations. In addition, we have yet to fully realize the promise of telemedicine. According to new data released by Manhattan Research, 7 percent of physicians are using video-conferencing tools to consult and follow-up with patients. American Well (Schwartz client) CEO Roy Schoenberg was represented on the panel discussing innovation in healthcare delivery and he spoke eloquently about how we can now democratize access to healthcare with a “live telehealth consult” facilitated with nothing more than your standard web browser.
Innovation in Mobile Health: Sticky Apps Build Sustainable Value
Smartphones are now ubiquitous and mobile applications can be used to ensure regular health monitoring. The beauty of mobile is that it enables continuous feedback loops to improve application functionality and provide a means for consumer-vendor collaboration. For example, RunKeeper was originally developed to track running routes, but it evolved to provide overall fitness/workout tracking at the urging of its dedicated user community. Other lifestyle-based mobile apps like Lollihop aim to be easily integrated into one’s current routine to encourage healthy decision-making.
Innovative Engagement Platforms for Behavior Change: Leveraging Rewards and Social Networks to Influence Health
The Internet has revolutionized access to medical information but patients need more tools to connect with each other and they naturally want to build online communities of like-minded health supporters. That is why sites like PatientsLikeMe and Inspire strike a chord. None of the panelists disagreed that changing consumer behavior continues to be a significant uphill battle, but there was vigorous debate about what types of carrot vs. stick methods are best at engaging consumers—offering both long-term value and sustainability. According to the many start-ups playing in this space—Health Prize and Health Month included—the key to consumer engagement is removing as many barriers as possible and incentivizing healthy choices. Borrowing a page from the Farmville playbook, if social gaming principles can make casual gaming wildly addictive, it stands to reason that it might also apply to making healthy behaviors “Stickk.” Early Stage Investment in Healthcare
Meanwhile, it’s one thing to “do good” (purely subjective) and empower consumers to make healthy choices, but at the end of the day, investors want to see sustainable ROI on both ends—how does the product deliver value to both the end user and the investor?
Social networks, mobile technologies, consumer engagement, and game dynamics will play an increasingly meaningful role in healthcare in the years to come. Charles Huang highlighted these points in his close to the conference by mentioning a new wave of healthcare specific accelerators and incubators starting this year – Blueprint Health and Rock Health – that will help entrepreneurs develop their businesses and products more rapidly through mentorship and capital.
For additional social media insights from conference participants, check out the #CIHT11 feed on Twitter.
More than 150 entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders attended the first annual Health Tech 2011 conference in Boston last Friday, May 13. Sponsored by CareInnovators and chaired by Charles Huang from Spark Capital, the all-day event explored how new technologies have a huge opportunity to re-engineer how healthcare is delivered—lowering cost, improving access and increasing quality. Bottom line: the rapidly rising cost of healthcare is a global crisis and there is no clear end in sight. Total U.S. healthcare expenditure represents more than 17 percent of GDP and is projected to reach 9.3 percent by 2019. Innovation is our only hope if we are to tackle the many challenges that threaten to bankrupt even the most industrialized of nations.
Amidst the U.S. healthcare crisis, however, there are a confluence of factors that create a ripe environment for health tech investment and entrepreneurial success. According to Chris Tsai, co-founder of CareInnovators, the healthcare industry is—today, more than ever—open to technological advances. The government injection of HITECH stimulus funds has opened that door and there is no turning back. Consumers are increasingly seeking out health information online and there are a greater number of delivery platforms (mobile, tablet). From the investor point of view, consumer-facing health tech offers lower capital requirements, fewer regulatory hurdles and faster exits. Regina Herzlinger, Harvard Business School professor and “godmother of consumer driven healthcare,” presented an insightful opening keynote on the many opportunities for innovation in the wake of healthcare reform. Fundamentally, solving the cost problem requires a shift in either supply or demand for healthcare. There are several key areas where entrepreneurs can help shift this dynamic.
In the realm of demand: • Health insurance exchanges (and its IT infrastructure) • New sources for online medical information • Support communities for patients In the realm of supply: • Retail medical clinics • Telemedicine • Intra-US medical travel • Bundled care (and its IT infrastructure)
The DIY Generation: Rise of Patient-Driven Healthcare
The second keynote by forward-thinking physician trailblazer Dr. Jay Parkinson re-affirmed that consumers are ready to embrace health tech if it enables them to schedule an appointment with their doctor more efficiently, receive the personalized care that they rightly deserve and connect online with other patients like themselves. They simply want to know “what’s in it for me” and “does it make my life easier?”
When Dr. Parkinson completed his residency, he started his own Internet-based practice in 2007 with $1,500 and an iPhone. Within the first three months, he had more than 300 patients. He made house calls and e-visits, accepting PayPal payments but not insurance. With an overhead of about 10 percent, he was almost instantaneously profitable and clearly benefited from early adoption of technology to forge a new model of patient-centric healthcare delivery.
After embracing early success and co-founding Hello Health—a web-based platform for patient communication, practice management and EHR—Dr. Parkinson moved onto his current third act, Future Well. Future Well aims to develop exciting applications for early adopter healthcare providers and institutions who believe in creating engaging doctor-patient experiences. From Dr. Parkinson’s point of view, most of us spend one hour a year with our doctor unless we are chronically ill, but good health happens in the other 8,759 hours. Applications that make the doctor-patient relationship more meaningful will positively impact health and the Internet is a powerful tool that can enable better health across our communities.
In part two of this extended conference recap, we’ll delve deeper into the key takeaways from the entrepreneurial panel presentations.
Are there other areas of healthcare where innovation is critical for shifting supply or demand? How can we further encourage patient engagement in healthcare?
We welcome your comments below, or tweet your thoughts to the Schwartz Healthcare IT Practice Group @SchwartzPRx.
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.
A core component of effective communication strategies for healthcare companies almost always involves identifying and promoting patient success stories. Drug, device, diagnostic or treatment, there is always greater success creating awareness when courageous patients step forward, willing to share their stories of triumph of how innovative medical technology helped them identify or conquer their medical challenges.
Dr. Chen’s recent story in the New York Times provides evidence that this methodology really works. Storytelling from one patient to another is an effective way to motivate people to get healthier:
“Now The Annals of Internal Medicine has published the results of a provocative new trial examining the effects of storytelling on patients with high blood pressure. And it appears that at least for one group of patients, listening to personal narratives helped control high blood pressure as effectively as the addition of more medications.”
Throughout my years in PR I have spoken to upwards of 100 patients facing all kinds of conditions including menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding), obstructive sleep apnea, epilepsy, depression and several types of cancer. It has always amazed me at how willing these brave souls are to share their stories for only one reason: to help others who may benefit. On behalf of everyone living healthier lives because of this selfless act, thank you for sharing.
There are a zillion resources online where patients can read the personal stories of those going through similar medical challenges. For example, Accuray, the maker of the CyberKnife System, updates its website regularly with fresh stories of patients facing a variety of cancers as well as benign tumors. Another great source to check out is patientslikeme, an online community for people with life-changing conditions. Patients share their personal health data with one another so the information can be available to help the public-at-large.
What do Robert Reich and Michael J. Fox have in common? They will be keynoting at HIMSS 2011, the largest healthcare IT conference of the year. The show will take place February 20-24, 2011 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.
Let’s not forget the networking and social opportunities, such as the Opening Reception, and the friendly and competitive 5K Fun Run/1 Mile Walk, the exciting Wednesday Evening event.
For as long as I can remember, Schwartz has been working with clients who attend HIMSS. We have seen the good, bad and ugly. Here is a HIMSS Tip Sheet to help you approach this behemoth of an event in a logical and lucrative way for you and your company.
Give Schwartz Communications a call at 781-684-0770 if you need help with any part of your HIMSS planning or during the event.
My first Schwartz healthcare client was: Over the past five years at Schwartz, I’ve shifted to an account load that predominantly consists of healthcare IT clients. But some of my earliest work here touched on the healthcare vertical (Honeywell Specialty Materials with pharmaceutical packaging), also some of my HR-focused clients were heavily focused on staffing solutions for the healthcare industry.
What I like most about working in healthcare is: It’s fun to see a company go from “stealth” mode to becoming a leader in its field and make meaningful contributions to how healthcare is delivered. I’ve also greatly enjoyed collaborating with organizations dedicated to helping wounded veterans, those with physical disabilities and families struggling with depression. When I’m not working, I like to: Travel, ski, try new restaurants, read, enjoy my ever-growing music collection and spend time with my wife and ten year-old son, Nate. Do things that are related to Italy, where I grew up. Collect miscellaneous things like advertising icons, antique apothecary jars and vintage vinyl.
Who had the biggest influence on your career?: Over the years, I’ve been lucky to have many mentors here at Schwartz. This place attracts a smart and talented bunch. It’s been a particular pleasure working with and learning from Dave Close, our GM, and frequent collaborator on dozens of projects in our healthcare technology practice. People would be most surprised to learn that I: I can speak fluent French…in Russian.
If I wasn’t in healthcare, I would probably be: I would be working for an organization dedicated to solving global health issues – I especially admire the work of the Gates Foundation.
Recently, I attended Xconomy’s “Face Off on the Future of Health IT” to hear a spirited discussion between two rival entrepreneurs, both of whom continue to have a profound effect on the healthcare IT industry, Jonathan Bush, president, CEO and chairman of the board of athenahealth, and Girish Navani, CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks. Pamela McNamara, president of Cambridge Consultants, moderated the event at the spectacular offices of WilmerHale, high atop 60 State Street overlooking Faneuil Hall and Charlestown.
Over the course of an hour, Bush and Navani covered a lot of ground – from insights into their own companies and health reform to the competition. Both executives shared their organizational growth and product sales strategies. Navani wanted to start his own company and have control over decisions. Bush wanted to take advantage of the capital available in the public markets; athenahealth is a publicly traded company.
Their approach to computing differed as well. For Bush, the software itself shouldn’t be viewed as the product, whereas Navani sees software as the product to customize. Both executives expressed distrust in the billions of dollars that the U.S. government is pouring into incentives for doctors to adopt electronic medical records, and what that will do for the future progress of the industry. You can read Ryan McBride’s full account of the evening in “athenahealth and eClinicalWorks CEOs Explain Their Differences, Critique Software Subsidies.”
Before and after the discussion, Schwartz’s video team caught up with several participants and attendees to get their take on the future of health IT, including Bob Buderi, founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of Xconomy; Jonathan Bush, CEO of athenahealth; Jeff Livingstone, industry strategist, healthcare and life science of Akamai; Pamela McNamara, president of Cambridge Consultants; and Caleb Stowell, medical student at Harvard Medical School.
Here’s what they said about “The next wave in healthcare IT?”, “The patient’s role,” “Physicians adopting technology” and “How companies are advancing the healthcare IT industry.”
Lloyd's perspective on the question of "when to launch" is informed by Schwartz's work over the years with what we believe to be the PR industry's largest portfolio of medical device clients. A small sampling of our work, which has reached patients, physicians, payors, advocacy groups, hospital management and others, includes introductions of:
- Philips Medical Systems HeartStart home defibrillator - Cyberonics VNS Therapy for pharmacoresistant epilepsy and VNS Therapy for treatment-resistant depression - NxStage System One portable home hemodialysis machine - CYTYC (now Hologic) ThinPrep Pap test - Hologic Cervista HPV test
He notes that product launches are like "one-pitch softball--you only get the one pitch to swing at. It's not going to happen again in the product's lifetime. So it behooves the healthcare PR pro to closely examine all possible alternatives in terms of timing and effectiveness." Lloyd believes that the received wisdom among many medical device executives causes them to allow that singular PR opportunity to pass them by, effectively turning what could be a chance to reach tens of millions of people into just another press release that crosses the wires unnoticed.
Take a look at the white paper, or drop the Schwartz Healthcare Practice a note if you'd like to talk more about product introductions, seeding the market before regulatory approval, raising awareness of a product already on the market or revitalizing an established brand. We look forward to talking about your company's communications needs.
May is treating the Schwartz team well. Last week, the team was recognized with a SABRE Award in "Research for Publicity" for its work in "Research for Publicity" on behalf of Javelin Strategy & Research.
The Schwartz team and Javelin combined professional and social media to promote Javelin's annual identity fraud report, increasing media coverage 126 over previous years, and a whopping 97 percent of all articles emphasizing at least two key messages.
In addition to Javelin, some terrific clients were recognized as finalists: medical device company Bioness, antivirus and desktop security software provider ESET and boutique healthcare investment services provider Leerink Swann. Although they didn't take home trophies, it's the first time Schwartz has emerged with four finalists in the SABRES and the work remains outstanding.
There's a great case study on Schwartz's work with Bioness, including a campaign that delivered $4M in sales leads. Check it out!
I write this as a proud alum of Dartmouth College, a school that has been synonymous with innovation in computer science and liberal arts. When Jim Yong Kim, M.D., Ph.D, became the 17th president of Dartmouth College on July 1, 2009, I knew healthcare would somehow be the next area of innovation.
On May 17, Dartmouth announced it received an anonymous $35 million commitment to establish The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science. This gift will advance a new field of study, harnessing the knowledge and expertise of faculty across multiple disciplines from the arts and sciences, as well as from the medical, business and engineering schools. The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science will focus on five areas with a goal of improving the quality, effectiveness and value of healthcare for patients, their families, providers and populations. Priorities will include research, education, collaboration, implementation and advocacy. You can read more here: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~news/releases/2010/05/17.html.
Dr. Kim has had a profound impact on a wide range of organizations throughout his distinguished career, including the Harvard Medical School, the World Health Organization and Partners In Health. Dartmouth is no stranger to healthcare. For 30 years, researchers at the College have pioneered the measurement of performance variation in U.S. health care, illustrating the serious value problem in healthcare delivery.
Though many universities have health policy centers, some medical schools offer courses in "medical humanities" and some hospital systems have taken major steps to improve delivery, Dr. Kim said, “we think this is the first to come at these issues in so many ways all under one roof.” Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the health system affiliated with the medical school, will play a large role in the center’s work.
President Kim said the gift will speed Dartmouth’s work on the next stage of needed healthcare reform.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Dr. Kim also stated, “… academic institutions have a huge role to play. We’re creating the center as a clarion call to colleges and universities throughout the country and frankly throughout the world to take seriously the science of health care delivery. In five years, if we’re the only center for health care delivery science, we’ll be very disappointed.”
Dartmouth is opening up tremendous opportunities for all disciplines of the healthcare industry – from vendors to hospitals and other academic institutions. Shaping the current and future of healthcare is critical, and this Center is like a massive task force helping to tackle and solve this problem. Not only do we need to work within industry, but we also must educate students, the future workforce, to think differently, and help to transform the current model. Organizations might look into guest lecturer spots, sponsorships, internships and research, as I presume the curriculum will be based on practical experience plus theory and research.
Dr. Kim is fond of quoting former President John Sloane Dickey in his convocation to students in 1946: “The world’s troubles are your troubles. But there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” And any good doctor would say you need to diagnose the problem correctly in order to prescribe the right treatment.
The intersection of PR and SEO for B2B healthcare and technology companies is My Current Obsession. Naturally, then, I'm fascinated by how Google works. We all know it's a Google world, right, but I care in particular about Google's treatment of news releases and content generated by the media.
I was interested, then, in last week's BusinessWire post on "Why Your Release Might Not Make it Into Google News." Not often, but every now and again a client doesn't find their release on Google News and they wonder what happened. Sometimes they ask us to "call Google and fix it." Tragically, we can't do that, so it's going to be easier to write the release in the first place to maximize its chances of getting picked up by Google News.
In the BusinessWire blog entry, Joseph Miller lists four reasons that releases may not be indexed by Google News: the release is too short (fewer than 125 words), too large (e.g., an earnings release with huge associated tables), appears to be fragmented into unrelated bullet points and, most important, the title is too long. Specifically, Mr. Miller says, a news release headline shouldn't exceed 22 words.
Really long press release titles should be avoided because they're clumsy, of course. Beyond that basic guideline, we've understood for some time the importance of prominently including keywords in press release headlines to improve SEO--they should appear toward the beginning of titles. It's useful to also know now that verbose headlines not only don't help SEO, they likely hurt it by causing releases to be tossed out by Google News altogether.
When you convene a group of leading healthcare journalists, in front of a room full of healthcare PR professionals, sometimes there's no telling what you might hear. Journalists and PR folk, especially healthcare PR agency specialists, have a bit of a love hate relationship. We both need each other, for different reasons of course, and in light of the different media world we live in today, it's more critical than ever that we best understand how we can help each other. As a PR practitioner, I'm most concerned with finding creative and impactful ways for my medical device, biotech and biopharmaceutical clients to get their message out to their key target audiences. The game has changed and in fact continues to change on what often seems like a minute-to-minute basis. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating but you get the point.
To that end, we prepared a special report with our takeaways from this session, thoughts on how the media environment is altering communications strategies and ideas on how healthcare companies can capture the right mix of influential mindshare. Is it shocking that healthcare journalists are busy (no), have fewer resources (no) and have less time to pursue feature-based stories (no)? How about the fact that several of the reporters we heard from have yet to jump on the social media bandwagon? Probably not shocking, but interesting, yes especially when the media organizations they write for are knee deep in trying to drive eyeballs to their respective Web sites via the multitude of social media tools and channels available. Check out the report and read on to uncover the good, bad and the ugly of what to expect in 2010. Feel free to opine on our blog with your thoughts and observations, we would love to hear from you.
Jim Weinrebe, executive vice president and leader in our healthcare public relations practice, will join several panelists on Monday, October 26 at Schwartz Communications for a Publicity Club of New England panel program to talk about crisis communications preparedness.
As much as we try to avoid them, crises are inevitable and usually strike at the most inopportune times. The emergence of social media alone has exponentially increased the urgency and need for being prepared. When the pressure is on, it is important to get the facts in order as quickly as possible before any public communication is disseminated and determine the key target audiences that need to be addressed. The pre-determined crisis communications team should be prepared to deliver relevant information in a timely and appropriate manner to minimize the rumor mill and restore order and/or confidence. It's absolutely critical to have a crisis communications team and protocol in place before an emergency or potentially controversial situation strikes.
Jim will be joined by several leading industry executives to discuss effective crisis communications protocol and offer insight into real world case study examples. More specifically, Jim will provide insight into managing a crisis in healthcare PR. Participants will walk away with an understanding of what works, and what doesn't, when under the gun and how to best prepare an effective crisis communications plan in a time of turmoil. To register for the program, please visit www.pubclub.org. Space is limited so please reserve your spot!
Over the weekend, I saw a Tweet (http://tinyurl.com/ljjwla) that the Heart and Diabetes Center NRW in Bad Oeynhausen, Germany, performed the 800th implant of the SynCardia CardioWest™ temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH‑t). Congratulations SynCardia! Back in October 2004, in my capacity as PR counsel to Syncardia, I was at the FDA Panel Meeting when it approved SynCardia’s CardioWest temporary Total Artificial Heart as a bridge-to-transplantation in cardiac transplant-eligible candidates at risk of imminent death from non-reversible biventricular failure. What an exciting time for not only the company who spent years and years working on and perfecting the device but also for physicians and patients whose lives were greatly changed—and saved—by this amazing device. I spoke with numerous patients including a cyclist who is an award winning member of the Transplant Olympic teams who had a second chance of life after being implanted with the CardioWest device. I am thrilled that more than 800 patients have since benefited from this device.
While this was the pre-Twitter, Facebook era, SynCardia made headlines news—from cover stories in its local Tucson papers to the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal to the Associated Press. This was one of the most exciting, heartwarming (excuse the pun) launches I ever worked on and will stay with me forever.
One of the more interesting recent medical stories to hit the mainstream media was the news that for the first time, the FDA has cleared the use of embryonic stem cells in human clinical trials. This particular trial will use a stem cell line developed by Geron, Inc. of Menlo Park, CA and will be implanted in people who have suffered acute spinal cord injury. As somebody who has actually seen the Geron-developed video of the stem cell’s affect on paralyzed mice walking and running after having been implanted with the Geron cells, the raw potential of the therapy is breathtaking. Of course, it will take many years of rigorous scientific testing in people to determine both safety and efficacy. This first small 10-patient trial however is an important first step.
What is curious and thought provoking about this news is its timing. The public debate over embryonic stem cells has been raging for many years now. Embryonic stem cells, as their name suggests, are derived from embryos. Specifically from embryos that develop from eggs that have been fertilized in vitro and then donated for research purposes, with the informed consent of the donors. The debate became a political ‘hot button’ issue when in 2001, the former Bush administration precluded public funding of additional stem cell research beyond 31 specific stem cell lines—ironically of which the Geron cell line was one. The Geron cell line was developed without public funding using instead the private capital markets. The public funding issue was largely perceived as a political gesture toward conservative supporters of President Bush as well as an extension of former President Bush’s own religious beliefs. To which of course, he is certainly entitled as are we all.
During the course of applying to the FDA for clearance of this trial, Geron submitted a 21,000 page Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the FDA, believed to be the largest and most thoroughly documented science that the FDA has reviewed in its history. The company says that the application detailed more than 24 separate animal studies of its product that established both safety and efficacy in animals. A lot of this scientific data had appeared in peer-reviewed publications over the years of development, including a study published seven years ago that showed efficacy in rats. As the FDA laboriously poured over the data during the years of the Bush Administration’s tenure, more people suffered from acute paralysis and investors bounced Geron’s stock up and down.
Then on January 21st, only ONE day after the Obama Administration took office, the FDA, suddenly and without warning, announced clearance of the Geron trial. While much of the news reporting on the clearance focused specifically on the scientific importance of the trial, a few intrepid reporters openly speculated that the change in the White House had immediate impact on FDA policy. This is a topic worthy of discussion. Was the timing simply a coincidence? Or did the Bush administration tacitly impose its own political and/or ethical views on the FDA? The job of the FDA is difficult. It must ensure that the safety of the public is held paramount and at the same time carefully guide new products and technologies through a process that allows new therapies to get to the marketplace after appropriate review. To add a layer of “politicization” to this process does not serve the public or the government. The science of medicine is after all transparent to personal belief or religious conviction—and politics.