There are some times in your career that you feel like you are truly making a difference and the first week of May was one of those times for the Schwartz MSL Healthcare team.
We had the opportunity to once again work with the wonderful folks at the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) to raise consumer awareness in Denver and surrounding cities about the importance of heart health, and, most notably, help educate the public about two serious yet widely misunderstood arrhythmia disorders: atrial fibrillation (AFib) and sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). This patient education and awareness campaign was HRS’ way of giving back to Denver, host city for Heart Rhythm 2013, the organization’s prestigious annual scientific conference.
The Schwartz MSL team recognized that in order to reach a large and diverse audience and truly make an impact, we needed a surround sound approach that leveraged, but didn’t rely solely on, local media coverage and advertising. More than that, we wanted to put residents in touch with experts for live conversations about warning signs, symptoms and treatment options. Similar to our campaign last year in Boston, we set out to hold a public awareness event.
With a little more than a month to plan and execute, the Schwartz MSL team quickly mobilized, securing a location in downtown Denver with lots of foot traffic, making sure we had all the necessary permits from the City, and hiring tent and furniture vendors. Keep in mind that we did this all from almost two thousand miles away in Boston with none of the team ever having visited Denver! We often tell our clients that in today’s always-on world, location really doesn’t matter, and nowhere was this mantra more apparent than in planning the HRS event. The Schwartz MSL team quickly was able to establish relationships with key local departments in Denver — Park & Recreation, Chamber of Commerce, Travel and Visitor Bureau, and Mayor and Governor’s offices—enabling us to get the intel and influence we needed to pull off a great event.
To help promote the event and drive attendance, Schwartz MSL conducted traditional and social media outreach to local outlets, including the Denver Post, and local broadcast stations tweeted and shared on Facebook about it to their followers. In addition, we secured more than a dozen calendar listings in outlets in and around Denver and developed a flyer about the event that was distributed by street teams in the city in the days leading up to the main event.
We also wanted the experience for people who attended to be interactive, so we worked with HRS on patient risk assessments that were loaded onto iPads. Using these online quizzes, the Schwartz MSL team guided people through a short series of questions about their health, family history and lifestyle. Armed with a topline assessment of each individual’s risk for SCA and/or AFib, our team then connected each attendee with a member of our team of cardiologists, nurses and allied health professionals who had volunteered their time for one-on-one conversations. Then, thanks to HRS partner AliveCor, attendees were also able to get their EKGs taken right on an iPhone. As a result, each attendee left not just with information, but personalized data on their own heart health, risk and steps they can and should take to protect themselves.
The Schwartz MSL team also didn’t stop at just an event. We developed and rolled out three weeks’ worth of radio ads throughout Denver promoting the event and helping to educate listeners about cardiac arrhythmias, AFib and SCA. We worked with HRS to sponsor a local Denver Rapids professional soccer game where HRS’ PSA was played for several thousand attendees. We also worked with Denver Governor John Hickenlooper’s office to secure a proclamation declaring the month of May as Cardiac Rhythm Awareness Month in Colorado, and with Mayor Michael Hancock’s office to proclaim May 8, the day of our event, as Cardiac Rhythm Awareness Day in Denver. These proclamations also gave a level of timeliness to our media pitches around local patient stories and local physician experts.
Despite a raw and rainy morning, the event on May 8 was a success. Attendees completed the risk assessment, met with a health professional and left armed with the information they garnered from these conversations so they could make follow-up appointments with their own doctors if needed. One woman even commented that she was having trouble getting an appointment with a cardiologist about AFib, so she came to this event and the one-on-one time she got with a physician was incredibly valuable. Many more people came by simply to learn about AFib and SCA and left with materials that will help them better understand these conditions. The Schwartz MSL team also distributed several hundred magnets developed to provide the public with simple steps for monitoring their heart rhythm at home, a simple task that can help close the gap between early detection and the life-threatening consequences if these conditions are left untreated.
The Schwartz MSL team really felt like we made a difference in spreading the word about SCA and AFib to local residents in Denver at this fun and educational event. Plus, the multi-faceted campaign continues to yield results with additional patient stories, expert physician commentary, PSA viewings and social media buzz that are still appearing.
Thanks Denver and HRS for a great event!
Posted by Lauren Arnold on May 21, 2013 at 3:12 PM
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The HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibit is a must-attend event for any healthcare technology (HCIT) company. With key decision-makers from the world’s leading innovators meeting in New Orleans for four days, it’s where the industry comes together to survey the landscape, discuss hot topics, meet and share experiences with colleagues and make plans for the future. There will be more than 200 sessions to choose from, allowing healthcare professionals at all levels to customize their own agenda to meet their individual needs. Among the dozens of educational topic categories are: mobile health, health information exchange, care coordination, health reform, EHR best practices, ICD-10 and HIPAA standards.
Executives, sales and support staff are busy getting their booths and presentations ready, and lining up meetings to discuss product roadmaps and potential mutual revenue opportunities. Are you also thinking about how you can maximize your visibility with the media?
Schwartz MSL surveyed more than two dozen healthcare IT influencers to find out more about their plans for HIMSS 2013. The first batch of responses offered some insights into who and what they will be interested in covering. Sixty-seven percent said they wish to meet with vendors, particularly when paired with a customer.
The hot topics on their radar are: clinical and business intelligence, HIPAA, privacy and security, population health and patient-centered medical home, care coordination and big data. A little more than half of the respondents wish to discuss health information exchanges, meaningful use, mHealth and telehealth. This year, journalists won’t be as interested in learning about new products and features and government issues. And only 33 percent plan to attend the keynote sessions.
What does this mean if you are trying to meet with reporters in hopes they will tell your story?
Find an angle: If you are among those companies which do address the hot topics listed above, you are fortunate. However, can you shed some new light on the topic? A new angle? Or better yet, do you…
Have customers attend with you: Reporters love to hear the real-world stories behind the products and services.
If you are announcing a new product, you might want to think about doing that a different week, unless it’s a significant update or meets a pressing, unfulfilled business need.
Our annual Road to HIMSS eBook will be available for download soon, full of even more insights and information to make your HIMSS experience the best ever.
Have you wondered why your co-worker is sporting a lot more facial hair than usual? Noticed an increase in handle-bar mustaches at the grocery store and wondered why? Movember is here!
Movember started in Australia in 2004 as a way to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate and testicular cancer. Why commemorate it with a mustache? The founders wanted to bring the mustache – the “mo” – back as a fun way to address and raise awareness for these serious causes.
We think this a great development. For decades, women’s health has appropriately garnered a wide range of mainstream attention through established awareness campaigns such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the well-known pink ribbons. Initiatives like Movember will give important men’s health issues, like prostate cancer, the attention they also deserve. National media outlets like CBS News and the Huffington Post have recently spotlighted the campaign, helping raise attention levels.
Here’s what you can do to join in the fun and raise some awareness:
1) Grow a mustache! To become a “Mo Bro,” abandon your razor for the 30 days of November. Choose whatever style best suits you. The more eccentric, the better, as your job is to be a walking, talking billboard for the cause.
2) Join your local “Mo Bros”: Movember has a great Website where you can learn about the campaign and find local events. Visit http://us.movember.com/events/find-an-event/ to find events in your area. For example, around Boston there’s a “One Week In” party, a Gala event, and the “The Mustache Dash” (a pub crawl).
The National Cancer Institute estimates that nearly a quarter of a million new cases of prostate and testicular cancer will be diagnosed in 2012 alone and the diseases will claim the lives of tens of thousands of men this year. This is a valuable cause and the next time you notice an out of place mustache—give them a “Mo Five.”
Are you participating in Movember? If so, tweet a picture of your mustache to @SchwartzMSLPRx.
Posted by Kirsten Tarin Fallon on November 5, 2012 at 2:40 PM
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This week the consumer health news in review is taking on a different perspective. It’s Friday. Almost the end of summer. It’s a good excuse for new perspective.
The news in review has been transformed into “Consumer Health. This is News? Week in Review.”
Let me state the obvious first. I work in PR. This is a PR blog. As PR professionals, it is often our job to take something ordinary and turn it into extraordinary; to perhaps create news.
So for this week in review, I would like to highlight news stories that made me wonder and rethink the strategies I employ with my clients.
Here’s my take on a few stories:
Rosie O’Donnell Has a Heart Attack Rosie had a heart attack and thankfully she is doing great. While she didn’t recognize the signs immediately, she consulted the internet about her symptoms and took a baby aspirin. She was lucky and her story has appeared on news outlets across the country and beyond speaking to women about the importance of knowing the signs of a heart attack.
This is what we call the amazing power of celebrity.
And it’s about time cardiovascular disease finally secured some decent media attention.
As noted in an article by Nicki Anderson on the Examiner.com, “According to womenheart.org more than 42 million women are currently living with some form of cardiovascular disease. We hear a lot about breast cancer, but the truth is that more than 200,000 women die each year from heart attacks- five times as many women as breast cancer. It's important to remember that heart disease is the leading cause of death of American women, killing more than a third of them.”
Thank you, Nicki. Thank you.
Breast cancer stories are everywhere. That isn’t a bad thing. But why isn’t more attention paid to heart disease? Do you participate in a heart disease awareness campaign effort? How many celebrities align with heart disease and promote the importance of recognizing the signs and symptoms?
So a heartfelt thank you to Rosie; we are so glad you are doing well and grateful that you are sharing your story to bring attention to cardiovascular disease. Thank you for bringing mass appeal and news value to women’s health and cardiovascular disease.
The New York Times covered the study in detail noting that study findings “counter the longstanding assumption that the age of the mother is the most important factor in determining the odds of a child having developmental problems. The risk of chromosomal abnormalities, like Down syndrome, increases for older mothers, but when it comes to some complex developmental and psychiatric problems, the lion’s share of the genetic risk originates in the sperm, not the egg…”
People loved this story. Or at least loved talking about it—there are more than 511 comments posted online with the article.
Clearly this was news. But why?
The study itself, in my very humble PR opinion, was less than critical. At the core, it revealed that yes there is increased risk of autism and schizophrenia associated with the paternal father’s age but how extreme is that risk?
According to the article, “The overall risk to a man in his 40s or older is in the range of two percent, at most, and there are other contributing biological factors that are entirely unknown.” Two percent. Does that two percent translate into news value?
Of course it does.
Why? Because it ties to trends and themes that are topical and people care about—autism, genetic risk factors, trying to figure out everything we can about our unborn children as soon as we possibly can.
News. More importantly, news value.
FTC: Ab Circle Pro makers aired deceptive infomercials Do you have killer abs? I don’t. But I want them. Especially if I could get them in just three easy minutes a day. I’ve seen the infomercial. I’ve picked up the phone. I’ve almost dialed. But that would have required putting down the donut I was eating. Oh right. The donut. The ice cream. The lack of physical activity. Could three minutes really overcome that?
Apparently many people did put down the donut and call. Or maybe they shoved the donut in their mouth and dialed at the same time.
And guess what?
Ab Circle Pro’s three minute ab technique didn’t do the trick. And there was a lawsuit. And now a payout.
USA Today wrote an article about the deceptive infomercials stating that “The FTC says the marketers of Ab Circle Pro, endorsed by fitness trainer Jennifer Nicole Lee, have agreed to refund up to $25 million to consumers. The agency says it is the largest refund ever obtained in an exercise device case.”
What part of this is news coverage? The infomercial was deceptive?
No. “Ab”solutely not. The news is that $25 million is being refunded to consumers. At the average cost of $250 for the Ab Circle Pro that means 100,000 people bought into this.
Mass appeal = news value.
It is easy to be cynical and grouchy and wonder why so-called news is always getting media attention but the truth is, so-called, fluffy news often has the greatest news value. It speaks to people and that translates into readership.
The lesson here—never forget the value of mass appeal. And don’t forget to put your donut down when you do your ab exercises tonight.
Posted by Stacey Holifield on August 24, 2012 at 4:21 PM
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Study: Mississippi Most Obese State, Colorado Slimmest Hold the Mississippi mud pie. A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out this week showing nearly 35 percent of Mississippi adults were very overweight in 2011, putting the state at the top of the list for obesity. Unfortunately, the South did not fare well in the study. The three heaviest states after Mississippi were: Louisiana (33.4%), West Virginia (32.4%) and Alabama (32%). Unfortunately, no state has an obesity rate of less than 20 percent, with Colorado having the lowest rate (20.7%) followed closely by Hawaii (21.8%), Massachusetts (22.7%), District of Columbia, New Jersey (23.7%) and California (23.8%). After topping the list for the last six years, Mississippi is taking action with several different program offerings, including promoting access to fresh fruit and vegetables and creating safe places to exercise.
Johnson & Johnson Pledges to Remove Harmful Chemicals from Products No more tears and no more harmful toxins. Johnson & Johnson announced this week that potentially harmful chemicals, like formaldehyde, would be removed from its line of consumer products by the end of 2015. This includes widely-used drugstore brands like Neutrogena, Aveeno and Clean & Clear. This marks the first time a major consumer products company has made such a widespread commitment. The company had already announced that all baby products, including the company’s No More Tears baby shampoo, would be reformulated with safer ingredients by the end of 2013. The company launched a website on Wednesday that includes detailed information on the composition of ingredients and the environmental health and safety practices of its manufacturers.
FDA Looks into Codeine Safety after Children’s Deaths After three children died and one suffered serious complications, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning regarding the safety of codeine for post-operative pain relief in children. All of the children had their tonsils or adenoids removed to treat obstructive sleep apnea and were between the ages of two and five. All had received standard doses of codeine, but doctors believe each had a genetic trait that caused them to develop toxic levels of drug in their bodies. According to Dr. Joseph R. Tobin, professor and chairman of anesthesiology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, “Codeine doesn’t work in its natural form. It must be converted by enzymes in the body to its active form.” Some people's livers are able to do this efficiently, while others aren’t. The agency cautioned to watch for symptoms of overdose, like unusual sleepiness, difficulty being aroused or awakened, confusion or noisy and difficult breathing.
Posted by Brianne Donahue on August 17, 2012 at 2:44 PM
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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 at Schwartz MSL, the Healthcare IT Practice shares news items on topics of interest with our clients. Even with a short work week, the news did not stop flowing. The conversation continues about the Supreme Court’s decision on health reform. Here are a few stories about that and other headlines.
Medicaid Expansion Now in States' Hands
Margaret Tocknell of Health Leaders Media writes about a critical aspect of the health reform bill: “Hospitals are facing a showdown with state officials over the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the expansion of Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Last week the court ruled that states couldn't be coerced into agreeing to the expansion, which would have added an estimated 17 million to the Medicaid rolls. Instead, states may simply decide not to participate in the expansion, which is 100% financed with federal funds for the first three years and then 90% covered for the next seven.”
Why Hospitals Love the Medicaid Expansion
The Washington Post wrote a story talking about the AHA’s favorable opinion of the Medicaid expansion. “If one industry can claim to have the most riding on states participating in the health law's Medicaid expansion, it's near-certainly hospitals. They have nearly $40 billion riding on whether states sign up or not. Hospitals regularly get stuck with bills that the uninsured cannot afford to pay. Every year, the American Hospital Association adds all those bills up to calculate the total amount of uncompensated care that its members provide. Every year, the number gets bigger and bigger, hitting $39.3 billion in 2010.
Doctors Debate Supreme Court Ruling
Also in Health Leaders Media, Joe Cantlupe talks about the debate among physicians on the Supreme Court ruling. “Physicians opposed to healthcare reform may feel like they're caught in a "Back to The Future" scenario. All that hope and hype over lawsuits against healthcare reform for the past two years has gotten physicians squarely back to 2010, when it all started. Many physicians who deride healthcare reform call it ‘Obamacare,’ just as disapproving non-healthcare professionals do. Should they now call it ‘Supreme Court care,’ too? In its 195-page decision, the court mentioned the word "physicians" only twice and ‘doctors’ not at all.”
Physicians Driving ACO Growth
American Medical News’ Victoria Stagg Elliott wrote about a report issued on June 13 by Leavitt Partners, a consultancy based in Salt Lake City, which found that 221 accountable care organizations operated in 45 states as of the end of May. This represented a 35% increase from the 164 in 41 states identified in September 2011 in a report released Nov. 29, 2011, by the organization. She also reported that physicians are driving this growth as they feel this is where the industry is going.
How to Choose a Health Information Exchange
Pamela Lewis Dolan, also of American Medical News, wrote that “a year ago, most physicians hoping to connect with a health information exchange probably weren’t faced with decisions such as statewide versus communitywide, or public versus private. There was an estimated 40% growth in the HIE market last year, most of it from private organizations, according to health information technology market research firm Chilmark Research. As a result, depending on the size of their community, physicians may have two or three choices in HIEs, which allow them to exchange health information with other physicians and hospitals electronically.” Some issues to consider are: efficiencies the practice hopes to gain; geographic footprint of patient population; and business model/sustainability.
“Technologies in the healthcare IT industry are converging with time and are far outpacing the legacy systems used by hospitals and healthcare providers,” reported the Sacramento Bee. Recently, cloud technology has started replacing these legacy systems and offers easier and faster access to this data as defined by the way it is stored i.e. public, private or hybrid. All the above factors bring the market for cloud computing to grow at a CAGR of 20.5% from 2010 to 2017 in healthcare. Although cloud computing offers significant advantages to HCOs and other stakeholders, it has set of restraints. Security of patient information, interoperability and compliance with government regulations are some of the factors which are slowing down this market.”
eHealth Initiative calls for flexible health information exchange regulations
Dan Bowman of FierceHealthIT wrote about the warning letter from the Washington, D.C.-based eHealth Initiative to the US Department of Health & Human Services which states that ..regulations proposed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT for governing health information exchange could "stifle innovation" and "hinder growth." The eHI called for laws that support a "more flexible framework" to allow for continuous innovation. ‘The focus for ONC should be on interoperability, as there are unmet needs in this area,’ the letter said.”
Posted by Davida Dinerman on July 9, 2012 at 6:41 AM
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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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When you think about the government’s role in healthcare, I bet the FDA, NIH and CDC are top of mind.
It’s time to expand your list.
Within three weeks, the FCC hosted two mHealth events featuring its Chairman:
On May 17, Chairman Genachowski joined GE Healthcare (client), Philips and The George Washington University Hospital to discuss medical body area networks. This technology could monitor patient vital signs via small, wireless sensors worn on the body, and get rid of the wires/cables connecting patients to their hospital bed.
On June 6 at an FCC summit, the Chairman announced more plans to spur mobile health, saying, “…in the coming months, the FCC will act on our proposal to create new experimental licenses for medical and other research.” The summit featured WellDoc (client) and its DiabetesManager, the only mHealth solution cleared by the FDA to provide real time, automated clinical and behavioral patient coaching for adults with type 2 diabetes combined with decision support for the patient’s doctor.
The FCC’s “deep-dive” into health highlights the growing convergence between medical and technology fields. Case in point: three top IT weekly publications – eWeek, Computerworld and Informationweek – have healthcare beat reporters.
The present and future of healthcare involves medical devices delivering drugs, transmitting information wirelessly, combining with advanced imaging, and using ever-more-powerful processing systems to help doctors make sense of all the data. Throw in robotics and powerful smartphones that act like computers, and we are reaching an exciting period of health innovation.
What does this mean for PR professionals? As the medical industry incorporates advances from increasingly diverse fields, companies will interface with more stakeholders - e.g. end-users and/or prospective partners. They need to help each make sense of it all. As a communications field, it is incumbent on us to:
Guide companies through these challenges, helping to tailor messages that resonate with each technology-specific audience
Engage mainstream investors and the general public, so they can understand the benefits of increasingly complex technologies
Help companies work with regulatory bodies as they update their guidance for new medical paradigms
As technologies continue to get more multi-disciplinary, there’s a great PR opportunity to engage a wide array of audiences. We’re excited to keep diving into this work!
As federal incentives continue to drive the electronic storage and exchange of patient health records, more and more providers – from large national health systems to small town solo physician practices – are signing onto health information exchanges (HIEs). While few disagree with the value of health information exchanges to improve the coordination of patient care, a debate rages on about which is more valuable for providers – a public or private HIE.
A recent KLAS Research report showed that healthcare providers are currently split in their choice, with about half selecting private HIEs and the other half still operating public HIEs. However, with $560 million in federal funding for public HIEs coming close to running out, and venture capital funding of the health IT field continuing to grow and create new opportunities for private HIE vendors, this balance seems bound to tip soon.
Even beyond the uncertainties surrounding their future funding, many feel public HIEs haven’t lived up to the promises. Their uncertain future, due to difficulties in achieving compliance between competing organizations and growing concerns over financial instability, were noted by KLAS one year ago, and these concerns continue today. Public HIEs can be cumbersome and some have failed to meet the needs of patients and providers. Government regulations and centralized databases are also creating roadblocks to the anticipated success of the public HIE.
Private HIEs offer a viable approach, allowing providers to successfully meet meaningful use standards and improve care coordination, while maintaining better control of their own data. Private HIEs also typically go live faster than their public counterparts, saving providers valuable time. Contrary to the common misconception that granting providers ownership of their own data rather than centralizing it in a national database will encourage data hoarding, private HIE vendors, like Certify Data Systems, are in fact making it easier to share patient records with providers all across the nation.
Some still have faith in public HIEs’ eventual achievements, claiming that private HIEs require heavier integration and interfacing. While this may have been true in the past, pioneering vendors, backed by the surge in health IT venture capital funding, have developed technologies that make private HIEs easier than ever to integrate and interface.
While a perfect system for an HIE has not yet emerged, innovators in the private sector are coming closer to reaching that point. They are making health records easier to share than ever before, reducing medical errors, facilitating care management and ultimately improving the quality of care.
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.
The power of social media has been recognized for quite some time now. And while the positive impact of social media is undeniable, its darker side is often highlighted in media headlines. Cited for encouraging bullying, oversharing personal details and publically humiliating friends, family and even exes—Facebook is often the scapegoat for negative online behavior.
But yesterday that changed, at least temporarily. Facebook launched an initiative to harness social media and social pressure for the betterment of society…to save lives.
Yesterday, Facebook announced that users can now post their organ donation status on their personal Facebook Timeline page. The potential of this initiative is huge. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, it “has the power to save lives.”
As noted in a New York Times article, the federal government’s Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network states that 114,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant. Last year, only 28,535 transplants were performed, creating a vast divide between those in need and organs harvested for transplant.
But is it a divide that can be easily closed? Can the influence and power of social media be activated to encourage not just the recognition of a decision to donate but also—and equally as important—the conversations in homes, with family members and loved ones, about the decision? This element is critical, as is formal donor registration.
Much like a “single” relationship status on Facebook doesn’t guarantee that someone is actually single, noting your organ donation decision on Facebook doesn’t guarantee your status as an organ donor. You still need to register and legally signify your choice. You can register when you renew your driver’s license or online with Donate Life America.
Is Facebook’s initiative alone enough to eliminate the unmet need for organ donation? Probably not.
Will the initiative create a swell of attention around a critical, life-saving issue, and generate positive peer pressure that can drive awareness like no other vehicle in the world? Absolutely.
Kudos to Facebook for bringing attention to a topic that is too often avoided, for encouraging conversations about how to save lives in the face of death, and for diminishing awkwardness around a difficult topic of discussion.
Regardless of anyone’s very personal decision to register as an organ donor, there is great beauty in harnessing the positive power of social media.
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.
Each day at Schwartz MSL, the Healthcare IT Practice shares news items on the latest industry trends, news, insights and events. There is never a lack of opinion or reporting on such topics as patient engagement, mHealth, ACOs, EHRs, Patient Centered Medical Homes or the latest market stats, and we enjoy learning the differing perspectives of the industry’s influencers in the trades, business press and blog-o-sphere. Here are some recent highlights:
This week, we see articles about the impact of technology on people. Pamela Lewis Donlan wrote a piece inAmerican Medical News titled, “Search is on to cure EHR alert fatigue.” She says that as researchers and health care organizations work to alleviate EHR alert fatigue, it’s clear that the answer is to create systems that take human behavior and supplemental patient data into account when writing rules that decide when and why an alert is fired off.
Ken Terry continues with his patient-centered care article in FierceHealthIT called “Patient-centered care requires more than online technologies.” Within the credo of patient-centered care, patients must be able to obtain copies of their medical records and visit summaries; they should have personal health records that they can share with their providers; they should have patient-centered medical homes; they should share in medical decision making; and, of course, the security and privacy of their personal health information must be rigorously protected.
Rachel Fields at Becker’s ASC Review cited another report by Health Imaging, which states that the percentage of physicians using electronic medical records has doubled over the past two years, according to Doug Fridsma, MD, director of the Office of Standards and Interoperability of the Office of the National Coordinator.
Interested in the who’s who of ACOs? Read “60 Accountable Care Organizations to Know” in Becker’s Hospital Review by Molly Gamble. She says that ACOs have proliferated in the past three years, spurred by private payers' interest in coordinated care management and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which introduced the Medicare Shared Savings Program.
Nicole Lewis of InformationWeek- Healthcare reports on a study from CSC Global Institute for Emerging Healthcare Practices called, "Transforming Healthcare through Better Use of Data.” It concludes that during the next five years, healthcare delivery organizations will either gain a competitive advantage or lose ground based on their ability to make the best use of their data.
On the mobile side, Brian Dolan wrote a piece in mobilehealthnews.com titled, “Global mobile health market worth $8B by 2018,” based on a recent report from Global Data, which pegged the global mHealth market as having a $500 million value in 2010 that will top $8 billion by 2018.
And like any other technology, medical devices, such as MRI machines and insulin pumps, are increasingly the victim of hacking, malware and other cybercrimes. A security breach of a medical device can also adversely affect patient safety, as well as the operation of the device, causing it to malfunction, fail outright or alter the data, reports Marla Durben Hirsch in FierceEMR.
Pamela Lewis Dolan also researched meaningful use this week. Her article “More physicians awarded meaningful use money” says that for the first time, physicians and other health professionals received more cash in Medicare meaningful use bonuses than hospitals got in a single month. However, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission data show that the vast majority of physicians have yet to collect a dime of government incentives for their use of electronic health records.
The healthcare IT market today is booming, spurred on by an injection of venture capital funding. PharmaBiz published an article based on a report on funding and mergers and acquisition (M&A) activity for healthcare IT sector for the first quarter of 2012 by Mercom Capital Group, llc. It states that that VC funding in the healthcare IT sector for in Q1 2012 was $184 million in 27 deals, the highest number of deals ever recorded.
If you would like to speak with a Schwartz MSL representation to learn more about how we can help you promote your company in the context of the industry’s news, please contact Doug Russell at healthcareIT@schwartzmsl.com or 781-684-0770.
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.
The HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibit is a must-attend event for any healthcare technology (HCIT) company. From February 20-24, 2012, key decision-makers from the world’s leading innovators descend on Las Vegas for four days to discuss hot topics, meet with colleagues and set the agenda for the year in HCIT.
There will be more than 300 sessions to choose from, allowing healthcare professionals to customize their own agenda to meet their individual needs. Among the 23 educational topic categories: mobile health, clinical analytics, HIE, connecting with consumers, care coordination, accountability for care and meaningful use. Keynoters include Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter; Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology; Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones and world renowned explorer; and political figures Donna Brazile and Dana Perino.
With 4,700+ exhibitors hoping to secure mindshare from 30,000+ delegates and media attendees, it’s easy for smaller companies and first-time attendees to get lost in the noise. Planning early and maximizing your strategic communications program before, during and after the event is an absolute must.
This Schwartz MSL Road to HIMSS 2012 Planning Guide is designed to help you navigate the PR and marketing opportunities at the show, and give you useful advice on strategy, as well as a timeline to help you plan ahead and even some tips on other fun things to do in Vegas.
For further advice or information on how Schwartz MSL can partner with you, please contact Dave Close or Doug Russell in our Boston office at 781-684-0770, or Shannon Murphy in our San Francisco office at 415-512-0770, or send an email to healthcareIT@schwartzmsl.com.
From November 27 – December 2, thousands will descend upon McCormick Place in Chicago for RSNA 2011. We spoke with Jim Knaub, editor of Radiology Today, who opined on the hot topics expected at this year’s conference.
Radiology Today Editor Jim Knaub predicts that austerity may once again be a dominant theme at RSNA. Hospitals and radiology practices are focused on maintaining profitability in a tough economic environment, Knaub notes.
“There’s a little bit of paralysis because of economic issues,” according to Knaub. “Healthcare organizations are trying to gauge the extent to which healthcare reform and deficit reduction will hinder imaging reimbursement. They’re also wary of how utilization review and the economy might affect procedure volume. They need to consider those threats to revenue before undertaking IT investments. As a result, many hospitals and radiologists are buying strictly what they need versus undertaking ambitious IT projects.”
However, Knaub notes, that a stealth issue usually emerges at RSNA every year, creating real buzz on the conference floor. Heading into RSNA, Knaub will be checking out the latest advancements in virtual colonoscopy protocol and acceptance. Virtual colonoscopy, also known as CT colonography, is less invasive than the traditional test and could result in more people being screened, Knaub notes. Screening tests such as colonoscopies or mammograms have been a heated issue pitting technology versus politics. Key questions include who should be screened, how often and when.
Schwartz MSL at RSNA
Several Schwartz MSL clients will be attending and exhibiting RSNA this year, including iCAD (Lakeside Center, Hall D, booth #811), iNTERFACEWARE (North Building, Hall B, booth #8547) and Circadence (North Building, Hall B, booth #7356)
iCAD Inc., an industry-leading provider of advanced image analysis, workflow solutions and radiation therapies for the early identification and treatment of cancer, will highlight several new features of their mammography CAD, MR image analysis and colon CAD products. Of note, the company will feature two works in progress including an MRI-guided prostate biopsy solution and a prostate MRI-TRUS fusion integration. iCAD will also showcase SecondLook® Premier, a customizable mammography CAD solution designed and developed using a 100 percent digital image database. (SecondLook Premier is now available in Europe it is expected to receive FDA clearance for sale in the U.S. in 2012.)
The company will also be demonstrating SecondLook Digital Multi-Vendor Solution and its latest version of VersaVue enterprise software for MR image analysis, which has been optimized to improve speed and includes an upgraded user interface and automated templates for images and charts.
iNTERFACEWARE simplifies HL7 integration and enables organizations to communicate with incompatible information systems and seamlessly integrate with multiple systems including EMR, EHR, HIS and PACs. With iNTERFACEWARE, radiology organizations can manage scheduling, registration, technologist and radiologists workflows as well as custom billing and reporting. At the show, iNTERFACEWARE will be discussing the latest version of its integration engine, Iguana.
A sneak peak at ROI reveals that radiologists and imaging centers using Circadence WAN optimization no longer worry about low-quality or intermittent Internet connections impacting large data files and unique image study transfers. Testing found enhanced throughput times without compressing images with more than 300% improvement in image transfer speeds. Stop by the booth to see the latest enhancements to its flagship MVO solutions, including multiple mobile deployment options, while the IT director from Imaging Associates of North Mississippi Magnolia discusses why and how his team uses Circadence solutions.
With hundreds of companies attending RSNA, Knaub and his staff are inundated with emails and phone calls requesting meetings during the show. It’s impossible for them to meet with every organization during the conference, Knaub said.
Knaub is interested in learning what news organizations can discuss and the potential impact on the industry. Hearing what’s coming and why it’s important is critical in helping Knaub and his staff decide with whom to meet.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s RSNA? Sound off in the comment section below or tweet us @SchwartzPRx.
To succeed as an ACO, healthcare organizations must improve patient outcomes and eliminate wasteful spending on unnecessary treatments to reduce the overall cost of healthcare. Clinical decision support systems help healthcare organizations improve quality and cost outcomes of medical care. Through daily conversations with hospitals, Zynx CEO Dr. Scott Weingarten is well-versed in ACO concerns and issues. Zynx is working with a number of providers that are making the changes to become ACOs. By tapping into Dr. Weingarten’s close relationship with hospitals nationwide, he offers a simple explanation of ACOs, while highlighting the need for hospitals to have a solid health IT system to ease health organizations’ transition to becoming ACOs.
Among the changes from the proposed rule, CMS no longer demands that half of the participating physicians meet requirements for meaningful use of EHRs to be in the ACO program. Achieving meaningful use, however, can help prepare providers as an ACO, Weingarten said in an interview with Government Health IT. “I am not aware of any sustainable or scalable way of doing it other than clinical decision support through electronic health records. It really needs to be done with the aid of an EHR because it’s integrated into the workflow,” he explained, “such as through notifications and alerts.”
You can read more in such publications as: Modern Healthcare, Hospitals and Health Networks, and Becker’s Hospital Review. Many questions still remain, and Schwartz MSL will continue to track the evolution of the ACO revolution. However things turn out with ACOs, one thing is clear, transforming healthcare to be more patient-centered, cost-efficient, coordinated and based on outcomes (versus procedures) will be a great step in the right direction toward meaningful reform.
After months of anticipation, today the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued final regulations governing Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) under the Medicare Shared Savings Program established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.This news comes after preliminary ACO regulations were unveiled in April and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was able to collect extensive feedback from provider organizations (such as the American Medical Group Association) and other stakeholders, many of whom criticized the program for being “overly prescriptive” and involving too much risk for providers, with not enough rewards.
The much anticipated final rules lessen the burden for healthcare providers and hospitals to participate in ACOs by decreasing required performance measures, eliminating the electronic healthcare record (EHR) requirement and removing financial risks for some to participate. It also eases the timetable to participate in an ACO and offers $170 million in incentives to physician-owned and rural providers to start ACOs.
ACOs are requiring hospitals, physicians and providers to “do more with less.” The objective is to entice these caregivers to adopt a new platform of service that creates integrated networks of physicians and hospitals to collaborate with one another, thereby sharing the responsibility of caring for patients and in doing so, improve outcomes and lower costs.If requirements are not met, this means lower Medicare payments. But if goals are met, bonuses are granted, rather than a fee-for-service payment, shared across entire networks. Fortunately, the final regulations appear to make achieving the end goal more tangible than previously anticipated. Nevertheless, doctors will still need to collaborate more than ever to provide coordinated care that will result in improved quality of care, better patient outcomes and cost savings.
While the 696 paged document detailing the final rules is thorough, an appendix of proposed rules verses final rules provides a great overview, as well as an article penned by Dr. Donald M. Berwick, the administrator for CMS. For example, the final rules now require 33 measures to assess quality (rather than an initially proposed 65) in 4 domains (instead of 5):
• Patient experience
• Care coordination and patient safety
• Preventive health
• Caring for at-risk populations
Some key provisions as outlined in the final rules:
• Providers can participate in an ACO and share in Medicare savings without risk of losing money
• Fewer quality measures that ACOs must meet
• Community health centers and rural health clinics now included
• Greater flexibility in antitrust review
Bottom line: With forecasted federal savings amounting up to $940 million over four years, providers who deliver higher quality of care and effective care coordination will be able to share in more savings.
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!
At Schwartz, we are particularly proud of our medical device and diagnostic PR practice. In the past 20 years, we have represented some incredibly innovative and life changing brands. From established market leaders to emerging growth companies we view ourselves as passionate ambassadors and advocates for our clients.
So, when MassDevice.com recently published their MassDevice CEO Class of 2011 we were thrilled to see five of our clients were honored as well as many other friends of the Agency.
The online business journal selected 28 of the most innovative CEOs in the medical device/medical technology sector to honor in this first “graduating” class. MassDevice.com boasts that these CEOs represent cutting-edge leadership and innovative thinking and we couldn’t agree more.
The ultimate winners will be announced on July 11 and we are looking forward to the special event taking place around the corner from our Schwartz Waltham office.
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.
Announcements coming out of the largest annual healthcare IT conference promise to check off the list of meaningful use requirements within the healthcare industry one by one. Check out a few “game changers” so far here, here and here.
In a recent post, my colleague Mercedes Carrasco wrote about the key terms that are most prominent on the HIMSS11 schedule. Some of the hot topics we have seen so far, and some themes we will be sure to hear more about at HIMSS this year include:
Interoperability is as enormous a topic as ever, and a number of vendors are showcasing how well they can exchange data. Who will be the first to seamlessly interoperate? Has this company done it? Let the games begin…
In recent articles about whether electronic health records are capable of improving the quality of care, EHRs have taken quite a few hits. Despite the efforts and expense of installing EHRs in practices, they are not improving overall quality as much as expected, according to researchers. Keep an eye out for the company that will come out with the “It” EHR that will truly improve quality of care. Perhaps this company is on the right track by improving training for doctors so they will have more successful EHR deployments.
Mobile solutions are a major player at HIMSS this year. One product announcement describes a solution that arms doctors with the ability to obtain complete patient health information on a mobile device at the point-of-care. Doctors will be able to e-prescribe, complete pre-certification and eligibility, as well as have the patient’s complete medical records literally in the palm of their hands. Don’t worry if your doctor is on his iPhone or iPad while in the exam room. He isn’t playing “Angry Birds,” he’s just filling the prescription for your allergy medication.
There was a pre-HIMSS rumbling that there would be a free health information exchange (HIE) solution unveiled at the show. The rumors proved to be true: This new system will be cloud-based and will allow healthcare providers across the country to exchange information quickly and securely for FREE.
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.
The political landscape has changed in the wake of the 2010 mid-term elections. The Republican controlled House of Representatives has stated healthcare reform will become a top priority next year. Specifically, the following has been said as it relates to “Obama-care.”
Speaker-elect John Boehner (R-OH) recently stated “I think it is important for us to lay the groundwork before we begin to repeal this monstrosity (Obama-care) and replace it with common sense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance in America.” Even the Democrats seem to be willing to work on changes. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said "If there's some tweaking we need to do with the healthcare bill, I'm ready for some tweaking.”
The elections sent a clear message for the need to cut spending and reduce the size of the federal deficit. Republicans will undoubtedly look for savings in Medicare and Medicaid, the government’s largest mandatory funding expenditures, and cost will be central to the renewed healthcare debate.
Companies with a compelling story of improving quality of care, increasing efficiency, keeping more accurate records, and cutting cost will be welcomed in the coming weeks and months in Washington. Not surprisingly, the discussions regarding Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) have significantly increased as Congress investigates ways to reduce the cost of healthcare. One of these key delivery system reforms that came out of last year’s legislation is the encouragement of ACOs, which facilitate coordination and cooperation among providers to improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries and reduce unnecessary costs. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that ACOs could save Medicare at least $4.9 billion through 2019.
There is significant momentum behind this initiative. The nation's largest physician lobby, the American Medical Association (AMA), has recently asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to create an environment helpful for the development of ACOs. AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD, said, "The physician-led ACO model injects competition into the market by eliminating the need for consolidation under a hospital system. Competition fosters innovation, which ultimately helps patients receive efficient, high-quality care. Care coordination is vital, and physicians can work together with a health care team to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital while maintaining independent medical practices.”
CMS is still developing the regulations and requirements for ACOs, making now the opportune time for companies and stakeholders to engage the government and become an active voice in the debate. With a large number of newly elected Republicans pledging to reduce deficits and cut spending, there’s potential for a monumental shift in healthcare. Schwartz believes companies who join and help shape the discussion on ACOs now will be better positioned when those reforms are implemented.
Posted by Corey Lewandowski, Director of Public Affairs at Schwartz Communications
Name: Lauren Arnold Title: Vice President Company: Schwartz Communications My first Schwartz healthcare client was: Cyberonics in 1997. We started working with them 4 days before FDA approval so it was a hectic and demanding week like I had never experienced before. From faxing reporters the news release to FedExing press kits, how we do things may have changed, but what has remained constant since that FDA approval is the thrill of seeing news stories that have an impact on patients and their families.
What I like most about working in healthcare is: the great life-changing impact our clients’ technology has on patient’s lives and their families. From artificial hearts to participation in life-saving clinical trials to digital hearing aids that allow grandparents to hear their grandchildren clearly for the first time, the technology and medicine we publicize is making people’s lives better every day. When I’m not working, I like to: spend time with my family, including my 7 month son who I’m still hoping will get my curly hair; read; and unwind watching tv. Who had the biggest influence on your career?: My mentors and colleagues who inspire me daily to do the best job I can. People would be most surprised to learn that I: think I would make a great detective, although I get scared easily. If I wasn’t in healthcare, I would probably be: a writer of children’s books featuring my dog Piper and her Lazybones Detective Agency.
Today H.R.H Prince Carl Philip handed out a research grant of 260 000 SEK to five recipients on behalf of Lilla Barnets fond (translated: The Small Child’s Fund) in Stockholm, Sweden. Prince Carl Philip is the official protector of the fund. The recipients of the research grant included pediatricians, researchers and professors who are important to the advancement of neonatal care.
The Small Child’s Fund is a new pro bono client of Schwartz Stockholm. Schwartz Director Annica Holmberg represented Schwartz Communications today at the ceremony at the Swedish Society of Medicine in Stockholm.
“This is a charity close to my heart, having had the need for neonatal care for both of my children,” said Annica. “Neonatal care has advanced during the past 20-30 years but in spite of this, almost one baby in neonatal care dies every day in Sweden. I applaud the efforts of the Fund, Prince Carl Philip and the recipients of the grant. I’m proud that Schwartz Communications supports this worthy cause.”
Posted by Kristina Ebenius on October 28, 2010 at 1:16 PM
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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.”
Pharma, biotech and medical device companies aren't terribly cowboy when it comes to corporate communications. I'd describe the general mindset as not so much "why wouldn't I share this information?" as "how does disclosing this information help me?"
It's not that they don't want to market their companies, their therapies and their expertise, because they do. But on a day-to-day basis, they ask themselves "why THIS piece of information?" They're thoughtful about their approach and nothing really happens without someone, or several someones, having given the release of that information substantial thought.
Nevertheless, the trend in external communications across technology and, I'd argue, science-driven industries, is toward having conversations that unfold over time and away from orchestrated releases of information. Of course, this isn't exclusively the case--if your company is announcing data or presenting at a conference, an embargo is an embargo and you will clearly not be dripping that data out via Twitter over time.
Keeping our eye on that broad trend, we notice that Eli Lilly has introduced a corporate blog, LillyPad. It's not pharma's first blogging effort, but as someone who looks at both the regulated world of healthcare communications and trends in PR, I can't help but believe that the blog represents an interesting step forward for healthcare communicators.
Lilly isn't using their blog to talk about their science or anything of that nature--they're discussing issues that matter to their company. Innovation, the value of patents, math and science education and the obligatory post on helping uninsured patients pay for medicine. Closer to home, I look at the example of client Absorption Systems, which has started blogging in order to explore topics that matter to their company, like drug-drug interactions and direct-to-patient marketing.
Lilly's comments policy reads, in part: "Comments on this blog will be filtered by Lilly and may be subject to removal if they have inappropriate content. Because Lilly and its affiliates operate in highly regulated industries, comments pertaining to ongoing legal matters or regulated content will not be posted."
Clearly the company isn't going to display posts from patients who feel they may have experienced negative or unwanted side effects. The worry of so many healthcare companies is, naturally, "what if someone reports an adverse event?" Lilly has put in place a process that allows them to gather that information if it comes their way and to respond directly with patients if need be. I think they've also shown, in just a few posts, that there are plenty of topics that the company feels are in its best interest to talk about in this sort of forum.
If blogging still isn't something your healthcare company feels comfortable exploring, maybe you're getting your feet wet in social media with Twitter instead. At Schwartz, we've noted that most big healthcare companies with products on the market are active users of Twitter. If ever you need convincing that social media has taken hold in the life sciences industry, visit the Dose of Digital social media wiki for a listing of just how much material is out there.
Our strong belief is that social and traditional media are intertwined--that one can't really be pursed in the absence of the other anymore. Even if your company isn't blogging, bloggers matter to you. You might not be on Twitter, but you should at least know what patients and others are saying about you there. Monitoring is the first step and a precursor to determining the level of involvement that's right for your company.
In the meantime, it's encouraging to see a company with the heft of Eli Lilly jump on the opportunity and commit to blogging. Is it something your marketing team has considered?
I am speaking with Matthew Holt, a San Francisco-based healthcare policy guru and entrepreneur, founder of The Health Care Blog and co-founder of successful Health 2.0 conference, which will take place in San Francisco on October 7 and 8.
Matthew, congratulations on coming up to the 4th annual Health 2.0 conference. Given your original tagline, "user-generated healthcare," you certainly have foresight into where healthcare is now and will be going.
Do you see that tagline as being relevant for a long time?
User-generated content in healthcare will become more and more relevant, and we get contributions of information and data from more and more people, reporting on their conditions, their experiences, using tools that track their care consciously or automatically. And then that data stream will be picked up by more sophisticated analytic tools, and used in the decision-making process by consumers, providers and everyone else.
It's actually the first part of our four stages of Health 2.0:
1) User-generated healthcare 2) Consumers connecting with providers using simple tools 3) Partnerships using Health 2.0 technologies to reform delivery, and 4) Data (from all those processes) being used to change clinical decisions and eventually drug discovery. But all those stages are going on simultaneously and we're really just getting started.
Eventually, the division between user-generated content and expert-created content will disappear, and no one will realize that we were having this conversation back in the day...
What do you see as the most important technologies in healthcare that will help move the mountain of Health Reform?
Email. Web tools for communication between doctors and patients. Self-service information tools for patients. On- and off-line communities for patients (and others) for support advice and information.
I'm sure you're seeing some interesting companies and products to showcase next month. Can you give our audience a sneak peek into some of the companies to watch? Some of the sessions which you're particularly excited about?
Just too many to count. We've collected a database of over 650 companies doing interesting things. We feel like they’re all our babies, so I'm loathe to pick winners but here's a few that we're reviewed in recent days:
Tweet What You Eat - a food diary using crowdsourcing to guess calories of things that are not in the USDA database and Twitter (simple & ingenious) to record information.
iMoveYou - uses Twitter, Facebook and more to challenge friends and friends of friends to do better in health, exercise and more. Started by Jen McCabe a former Health 2.0 conference intern, so that one, we're very proud of!
Performance Clinical Systems – A SaaS based presentation layer for getting admission orders off paper in small hospitals. It does what the big EMR vendors do for a fraction of the cost
All of these are small, relatively unknown companies. We also have some much bigger players including Microsoft,Google and WebMD doing interesting stuff supporting and integrating new tools and technologies.
And we have several sessions showing developers integrating government data into their systems and answering 11 challenges we have incubated as part of the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge. US Department of Health and Human Services CTO Todd Park and Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra will be here to highlight that session
Oh, and we'll be hosting the two biggest start-up launches of this (or any recent year). The first is Sharecare, with WebMD founder Jeff Arnold & Dr Oz and many more, and the other one is Castlight Health, which just raised $80m in venture funding to blow up and reinvent healthcare shopping for employees and consumers.
What kinds of companies and products do you look for when you're selecting presenters at Health 2.0?
Innovative, easily intuitive, tackling an obvious problem in a new way; not afraid to tilt at windmills, and of course, one that will demo well!
How have you seen Health 2.0 impact the players in healthcare – vendors, physicians, patients, pharma, biotech, insurers and so forth?
Anyone who touches the consumer is starting to realize that this matters. Everyone else is in for a rude shock when they understand that the Web 2.0 tools that are getting used at the edges of healthcare will be invading their enterprises--in the not-too-distant future.
Is there anything you'd like to say which I haven't asked?
Thanks for asking.
We're running a short meeting before the main conference called Patients 2.0 in which some remarkable patients and caregivers will be telling their stories. We've always had patients sprinkled through Health 2.0, and increasingly we're just giving them their own sessions and letting them lead.
Please have your clients and readers get involved in the Health 2.0 community, come to the conferences, listen to the webinars, get involved in the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge. We've been going for four years, but this is really just starting.
Matthew, thank you very much for your time. We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco next month.
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.
The eagerly anticipated HITECH Act's final rule on "meaningful use" of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) was announced yesterday by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. It clarifies how doctors and hospitals can qualify for federal aid when they adopt EHRs. At stake: Up to $27 billion in incentives over the next ten years - $44,000 max per clinician under Medicare and $63,750 per clinician from Medicaid. Hospitals also stand to receive millions from "meaningful" EHR implementations.
Lack of definition on meaningful use had stalled many EHR implementations, especially at smaller hospitals, while leaving vendors in a painful wait-and-see position. Last January, many vendors, healthcare organizations and physicians groups like the MGMA contributed their suggestions to a definition during the public comment period, hoping to influence a ruling that didn't position them out of the stimulus-fueled market.
Yesterday's announcement outlined a definition by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on minimum requirements that providers must meet through their use of certified EHR technology to qualify for stimulus dollars. Listed are a "core" group of requirements - like e-prescribing - that must be met, plus an a la carte "menu" of procedures from which providers may choose. This approach is meant to have teeth, but also give providers flexibility to pursue their individual needs. While certainly lowering barriers to federal dollars (and market barriers to vendors), some point out that this also dilutes quality. Many, however, are relieved – and thankful for the public comment period – as the initial “all or nothing” approach, as first outlined, meant that many organizations would likely have not even tried to qualify, fearing they couldn't possibly meet the stringent criteria needed to get funding.
In addition to the final rule on meaningful use, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC) also issued a rule identifying the standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria for EHR technology. But, as ZDNet Healthcare points out, "the companies which will do the certifying have yet to be chosen, after which vendors will have to line up to assure customers of stimulus cash." Assuming their technology is certified, many healthcare IT vendors now have the opportunity to help physicians improve the various processes outlined in the a la carte menu.
More and more, B2B companies are finding Facebook valuable for sales and marketing to facilitate communication with clients and prospects, and to help drive business forward.
About a year ago, long-standing client Margaret Mayer, marketing director of Boston Software Systems, attended one of Schwartz Communications’ seminars about social media and was intrigued as to how her company could benefit from these communications methods. Margaret decided to test the Facebook waters.
Boston Software Systems is a virtual company with 25 people, 23 of whom work in different locations. Although small, it does a big job helping hospitals and other healthcare organizations save hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars through its workflow automation tools.
Margaret set up Boston Software Systems’ Facebook page and added some links and information, but wasn’t very active on it. She wondered about the value of Facebook for her company and customers.
A member of the Boston Software Systems team at Schwartz, Kristen Perry, noticed that the page wasn’t set up for maximum impact. She suggested turning it from a Profile, as an individual would use, into a Fan Page, which has a more professional appearance and functionality and is geared toward businesses. There is also the question of setting up a Group.
Groups are great for organizing on a personal level and for smaller scale interaction around a cause. Fan Pages are better for brands and businesses that want to interact with their fans/ customers without having them connected to a personal account, and that have a need to exceed Facebook’s 5,000 friend cap.
Kristen also outlined some reasons why it’s a good idea for companies to have a Facebook Fan Page: • It improves search engine results. Facebook pages now appear among the top entries in Google search results. • It’s easy for people to remember (particularly if it’s a shorter URL) and for companies to promote. • It encourages discussions. Fans of the page, by nature, are interested in the company and are more likely to engage in discussions.
Setting up the Fan Page and moving the current fans and links would take time, but Kristen was up to the challenge, and Margaret was pleased and relieved. Kristen describes the process of setting up a Fan Page:
• Before setting up a Fan Page, the administrator needs his or her own Facebook account. Designate someone who can manage the Page and add content regularly. If you also have a solid and trusting relationship with an outside communications agency or marketing consultant, you could also give that person rights as an administrator to keep tabs on the Page’s status and to ensure it has fresh content. If you happen to end your relationship with that agency or consultant, you can remove them as an administrator.
• Recently, Facebook updated one of its most business unfriendly controls by giving page administrators the ability to remove other administrators, regardless of who created the page. This was announced late last week on the Facebook Page for Facebook Pages. Previously, the creator of a page had rights above all other admins, due to the fact that they could never be removed.
• Go to the page to set up a Username and click “Set a username for your Pages.” Be sure to check the Username that you select as you cannot change it. Many companies use Facebook pages to talk about an issue or technology idea. It is a good idea to choose a username that authentically represents your business or brand. You can have it link back to your website and improve search engine optimization.
• Fill out basic company info in the Info tab, including date founded, description of the company and number of employees. You can also start building content on the wall with messages and announcements. It is important to write the company description in the little “About” box with keyword-dense prose to enhance search engine optimization. This holds true for the Info section, where you can also add high priority links.
• One important SEO strategy that should be employed on your Facebook Page whenever feasible is placing keyword-dense prose as close to the top of the Page as possible.
• After you’ve set up your Fan Page, promote it by adding the Facebook icon link to your Web site for easy access. You can also add it to your boilerplate and email signature. Consider linking your Facebook page with your company’s Twitter handle and LinkedIn page. For an extra investment, you can set up an ad, although so far we haven’t seen great value in the ads from a customer adoption perspective.
• Populate your Fan Page with links to interesting content, company news, events or industry news, and start sending messages to your fans. You can load Notes, start a discussion, add photos of people, products, company events, trade shows and screen shots. It is important to keep the information fresh, updated and give your fans a reason to visit and interact.
• Build your Fan base by contacting friends and colleagues already on Facebook. You can also send a note to the fan base from the old site and ask them to get onto the new one. Once people start becoming fans of Facebook pages, their friends will see it on their status. This offers a possibility that they too will show interest and Fan the page.
Once you have 25 or more fans, you can create a custom URL or vanity label for your Fan Page. Although not critical, it makes the page’s URL much more manageable. By adding links to their email signatures, promotional email and other outbound marketing efforts, Margaret and her team at Boston Software Systems are actively encouraging their customers to ‘Become a Fan’ of the Page.
Boston Software Systems is much happier with the company’s new Facebook Fan Page as it presents the B2B company in a more professional manner and allows easy interaction with stakeholders.
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!
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.
Say what you will about the effectiveness of conferences in the marketing mix--there are still a lot of shows that companies feel they have to attend in order to see and be seen. In the case of Schwartz client BioImagene, that conference is the annual meeting of the U.S. & Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP).
BioImagene is one of the companies that dominate USCAP and their PR team is working overtime to support the show presence. So it was nice for everyone to see a blog entry, "BioImagene PR Doing It The Apple Way," from New York-based pathology resident Karl Robstad, M.D.
Dr. Robstad offers, "In an industry that, at least in my opinion, lacks some of the excitement in spreading the word about their newest and best products/services, BioImagene is a real stand-out taking a page out of Apple’s handbook, by creating mystique and hype around product releases, and then following the hype up with grand spectacle unveilings."
He continues, "You can look at stuff like this and call them 'PR stunts' or whatever, but I think there is a certain amount of merit behind a good PR campaign."
We'd agree, Dr. Robstad, and thank you for noticing. It's all about generating the sort of visibility that makes the BioImagene sales team happy and that underscores how a company that was founded a few years ago is altering a century-old industry.
The BioImagene booth was hopping at USCAP last year. Here's to an even more successful 2010 event later this month.
This photo from euthman is covered by a Creative Commons license.
Following are additional impressions from HIMSS 2010, Atlanta contributed by Schwartz Communications colleagues Dave Close, Nigel Smith, Dana Conti, Mercedes Fereck…
• Bloggers vs. reporters: There is hardly a difference in the healthcare IT market. Prominent bloggers like HISTalk attract big readerships - large enough to host their own party and awards ceremony on the same night as Healthcare Informatics’ Innovators Awards Event. At a client’s press briefing, bloggers sat next to top tier outlets like Modern Healthcare, providing their own perspective and reporting on the news. Take Anthony Guerra for instance. He is the former editor of Healthcare Informatics, who is now leveraging his CIO contacts to write stories on his new site healthsystemCIO.com
• Booth Gimmicks Abound: From the aforementioned DeLorean, to a specially constructed basketball court featuring former Harlem Globetrotters to Tiki-themed lairs and Vespa giveaways, HIMSS once again featured some pretty memorable booths. I can certainly appreciate the scenery, but it seems somewhat "Mad Men" retro and a bit silly to see companies still hire beautiful young women to draw traffic into the booths. Every spokes-model in the southeast must have been at the GWC. How do you stand for seven hours on six-inch heels?
• Wither the CIO? There weren’t as many hospital CIO types roaming the show floor as in years’ past. Many we spoke with said the CIO was an “endangered species” at HIMSS and most who did attend were there as a guest of a vendor. So, HIMSS this year was mostly vendors talking to vendors, with the most likely business outcome being strategic partnerships down the road, or planting seeds for a future merger or acquisition.
• Testing The Waters: This year at HIMSS, Schwartz met with a number of general technology vendors who were there to “test the waters” of the healthcare vertical market and/or to gather information on healthcare IT certification.
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.
The January 24th edition of the Sunday New York Times ran a Page One Investigative report on the perils and dire consequences on the use of radiation in medical diagnostics and cancer therapies. The lengthy report, put together by an investigative team of six people, left the reader chilled and saddened for the families of the two patients whose experiences formed the substance of the vast majority of the Times’ reporting. Indeed they suffered greatly as a result of what the Times inferred was a result of a human error and/or faults in complex technology. Rare will be the reader who will put the piece down believing as much in the safety and efficacy of radiation as when they began reading.
Yet the Report was both disconcerting and troublesome to me. As a healthcare public relations professional, I have indeed represented companies who had developed both radiation diagnostics and various types of therapies, yet even so, I found I was not biased by my professional associations. What really was disturbing to me was this quote found in the 9th paragraph of the 4 full page article.
“Without a doubt, radiation saves countless lives, and serious accidents are rare.”
OK. I get that—and I believe it. For many years radiation based protocols have been the standard of care and indeed gold standard in more procedures than I have time to list here. And this knowledge, juxtaposed with the Times reporting of yesterday is totally perplexing to me. I feel that the Times reporting was both sensationalistic and severely unbalanced. If they were to use all of that hugely expensive space in the Sunday paper detailing the potentially dangerous applications of radiation, would not a great deal larger amount of space be required to tell the stories of just some of the “countless” number of lives that the Times says radiation therapy has saved. I don’t get it.
Of course medical error and improper use of new and different technologies are serious problems. They deserve to be covered and extensively reported on. But to run such an emotional and one-sided account as the Times did, disappoints me. Not only as a healthcare PR Pro, but also as an informed potential patient. I love the Times. It is my favorite newspaper and a ‘must-read’ every day. But in this case they fell far short of their usually high journalistic standards. And in doing so, carried out an injustice to their readers by painting a picture that only tells a small, small part of the story.
Jim Weinrebe presented his perspective on the role social media is playing in crisis communications management for biotech, life science and pharmaceutical companies at the Publicity Club of New England's "Crisis Communications Preparedness" program held at Schwartz Communications.
Jim, along with his fellow panelists, weighed in on the need to plan, plan, and then plan some more as it's still at the root of any good crisis communications or reputation management plan for healthcare PR. Simply put, you can't be too careful, or too prepared in today's digital media age. It's not so much that many of the fundamentals have changed but that the SPEED, unbiquity of communication and new product applications in social media, with Google Sidewiki offered as just one recent example, have the potential to outpace the planning capabilities of some of even the most seasoned practitioners.
What's very different today in healthcare, according to Jim, is diminished ability of healthcare prescription product manufacturers to control, manage or even respond to messages that are swirling around them in the social media universe. With the prolific growth in use of Twitter, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and other channels, social media content is not only broadly influencing people online, but also becoming a feeding ground for resource-constrained traditional media outlets that are constantly seeking audience generated content to embellish their reporting. The news vetting bar has never been set so low for provocative content that can get instantly posted and then picked up by influential traditional broadcast and print outlets in the blink of an eye.
While one of the fundamental rules for participation in social media is to actively listen, Jim also noted that even this basic aspect of social media etiquette poses difficult challenges for healthcare prescription product manufacturers, who could be accountable to the FDA for reporting instances of adverse events that have been identified through social media monitoring. It was noted that the industry is seeking clarity from the FDA on these and other issues related to social media, which could be at least partially forthcoming in pending public hearings on this topic in mid-November. Until such guidance is established, Weinrebe noted, prescription healthcare product manufacturer participation in social media will be very modest, and for the most part resembling more of a web 1.0 than a web 2.0 format. Meanwhile, Weinrebe said that social media has more potential to create or accelerate crisis for healthcare prescription product manufacturers. Exceptions in healthcare cited by Weinrebe were organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and American Red Cross, and even individual hospitals, who have employed sophisticated uses of social media to help effectively manage and communicate messages during public health emergencies and crises.
Jim noted that in regulated industries, such as healthcare and finance, there is still a lot of work to be done in educating senior management about the need to apply authenticity in tone to social media communications, even if the communications are nothing more than stand-by statements or simple acknowledgment that a problem has occurred. Jim counseled attendees to consider social media monitoring tools as a core part of an effective public relations strategy, while at the same noting that many healthcare product manufacturers need more guidance on adverse events reporting before even that approach can be robustly implemented.
While the healthcare industry waits with suspense for the outcomes of the FDA hearings on social media, Jim noted that clarity will not be achieved in the short term, that the deliberations will continue well into 2010 and that even by that point and beyond, a certain degree of ambiguity may still be desired by regulatory agencies as a means for cultivating preemptive manufacturer caution.
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at a panel discussion at NortheasternUniversity, "It's Time To Brand Yourself" sponsored by the Boston Alumni Networking Exchange, the College of Professional Studies and the Communications Alumni Network. The discussion, moderated by Dr. Carl Zangerl, College of Professional Studies, Northeastern University, focused on a topic that's near and dear to all communications professionals - personal brand building.
I was joined by Michael Armini, vice president of marketing and communications at Northeastern University, Ted Chaloner, president of Chaloner Associates and Lauren Libitz, president of the Yankee Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). It was a fantastic line-up and each panelist brought a unique and interesting perspective to the more than 70 attendees who showed up for the program. With terrific questions and comments from the studio audience, my fellow panelists and I opined on the current job outlook for communications and public relations professionals, the concept of personal branding, the importance of networking and the different social media tools available including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, to create and promote a personal brand.
Whether you are currently employed or on the hunt, establishing a personal brand is important and something that bears relevance and utility to both an employee and a job seeker. The whole idea of a personal brand certainly isn't new but with the advent and popularity of social media tools it's quickly become a key buzz word in a challenging economic environment. I think building a personal brand is very similar to building a brand, and a strategy, for a company. The same rules apply. All the tools in the world won't do you any good unless you have a clear, consistent and differentiating vision to communicate. Further, coming up with the vision is just the first part of the challenge, the second part is figuring out which social media tools to employ. There are so many out there and it's challenging to know which ones to dabble with but my recommendation is to try a few at a time. Start slow, get recommendations relevant to your industry and observe others before jumping in head first. And, just remember, keep your personal and professional brand separate !
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!
Perhaps no single item in recent memory has generated as much curiosity and interest from healthcare PR Pros and marketers than has the growing phenomenon broadly titled "Social Media". Social Media can be broadly defined as a whole group of new communications channels that enable a more direct and conversational dialogue between medical device, pharmaceutical and biopharma companies and their key constituencies--including patients and clinicians.
The interest in Social Media is being driven by a confluence of two factors. First--dramatic changes in the more traditional media channels typically used by healthcare companies. Print. Broadcast. Radio. The economic downturn has reduced both the number of outlets that healthcare companies have used to reach key audiences as well as the sheer time allocated to healthcare stories. Second is the advent of rapidly emerging technologies that enable a shift from the "one-way" nature of traditional media to a more conversational or cocktail party approach to engaging audiences.
Together, these two factors are stimulating whole new areas of opportunity for the healthcare or medical public relations professional and the companies they work for. But there are challenges as well.
Recently Schwartz Communications held a Webinar that provided an overview of the types of Social media programs available for medical device companies, but it is applicable to all types of healthcare companies as well.
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.
We spoke with Bjarte Reve, CEO of Oslo Cancer Cluster. The Norwegian cluster is a collaboration between pharma, biotech, research institutions and hospitals, patient groups and other organizations committed to making a difference for cancer patients.
Check out what Bjarte had to say about their initiative.
This year’s Massachusetts Biotechnology Council Annual Meeting provided a sober look at the state of the Massachusetts biotech industry and what the cluster must do to succeed in the years to come. Our world-class teaching hospitals and academic institutions, our talented scientists, physicians and researchers coupled with a vibrant VC community has resulted in Massachusetts being a world leader in the industry, but according to the council, other states and even countries are fast on our heals of potentially claiming the “super cluster” position. While Massachusetts has enjoyed being the launch pad for exciting companies like Genyzme and Biogen, today’s “rising stars” and even companies that are not yet formed but are a glimmer of hope in a scientist’s eye based on a patent or piece of IP, now face new, bigger challenges due to today’s economic conditions. The key theme of the day’s presentations was the importance of greater collaboration among industry, academia and venture capitalists. In order for the Commonwealth to not only survive today’s economic landscape but more importantly, prosper and maintain our leadership position, it will be key for these organizations to work together.
According to the MBC’s 2015 Strategic Report which was released at the conference, scientific collaboration and innovation is a critical linchpin to the success of the state’s biotech industry. The report discusses the need to better align the academic community with industry to improve collaboration and to address technology transfer processes taking innovation from the bench top to industry. Unlike other biotech powerhouse cities like San Francisco and San Diego, tech transfer doesn’t happen as seamlessly in Massachusetts. One of the calls to action was development of a consortium of academia and industry, so that the gene discovery and validation process that occurs in the academic setting can then be developed by companies with the funds and means to build accurate models and implement clinical trials. Without this technology transfer, we won’t see progress.
While it may seem ironic to say that I found the Economic Outlook session uplifting, it provided some clarity on where the industry is heading and it’s not all bad! Moderated by Xconomy Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief Robert Buderi, the session discussed on how the recession actually presents us with a tremendous opportunity. While pharma generally bets the bank on a blockbuster drug, nimble-minded biotech companies should focus on a “niche-buster” and be creative and adaptive in clinical trials. It is these companies who will come out standing—many of whom get their start here in the Bay State.
The MBC continues to host interesting, thought-provoking meetings that provide valuable forums for discussion, networking, collaboration and innovation.
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.
The American Heart Association's Annual Scientific Sessions wrapped up in New Orleans last week and for the first time in two years, there was no embargo-gate debate.
Maybe the AHA took a page from the "No Drama Obama" campaign.
What's the fuss all about? For publically-traded healthcare companies, presenting data at a prestigious medical conference like the AHA is mostly a blessing----major stakeholders including clinicians, investors and the media are all focused on news from the conference.
Yet navigating conflicting embargo policies can be a real challenge. For example, consider a Company that has highly-anticipated trial results in hand weeks before it's scheduled to present at a "Late Breaking" session.
One on hand, SEC Reg FD rule encourages companies to announce material news almost immediately. Yet conference organizers have strict policies about releasing data prior to the conference. If the data is being simultaneously published in a medical journal like JAMA or NEJM (as the JUPITER study was this year), add another layer of complexity.
Often times, companies are forced to announce top-line data prior to the conference, without being able to paint the full picture. After weeks of market speculation, the embargo is lifted.
During last year's AHA meeting, this predicament prompted Eli Lilly's CEO to write a WSJ Op-Ed entitled, "The Media on Drugs." He explained "NEJM and AHA asked for promises from Lilly and its partners, and we agreed, not to disclose any of the results prior to Nov. 4. Such guarantees of exclusivity are not only common, but also appropriate, in focusing expert attention on important research." In 2006, the AHA pulled Pfizer from the Scientific Session agenda for pre-releasing data. CNBC Reporter Mike Huckman blogged about an embargo-gate episode at the 2007 ACC conference.
What's a company to do? There is no clear cut answer. The data results, size of company and the anticipated impact of the stock all play factors in deciding the best course of action.
In the next post, we'll outline a few recommendations for a company in this situation.
Posted by Dana Conti on November 20, 2008 at 9:23 AM
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