Now follow Chief Marketing Officer on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Twitter Apps for the Public Relations Pro

Is micro-blogging part of your public relations tool kit? While industry-insiders debate its longevity and surviving business model, the public relations industry is still experimenting with how to best use micro-blogging. Much like other forms of social media, the industry still grapples with how to best use the medium to create brand buzz and fully engage consumers.

There are a number of apps to help you tweet more efficiently and, thus, more effectively. Learn more at RushPRNews: Twitter Apps for the Public Relations Pro.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What is the State of Healthcare in Your State?

The cost and quality of health care, as well as access to care and health outcomes, continue to vary widely among states, according to the 2009 state scorecard report of the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health Systems.

The report, Aiming Higher: Results from the 2009 State Scorecard on Health System Performance, is a follow-up to the Commission's 2007 State Scorecard report; it ranks states on 38 indicators in the areas of access, prevention/treatment quality, avoidable hospital use and costs, healthy lives, and equity.

In 2009, Vermont, Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, Maine, and New Hampshire lead the nation as top performers on a majority of scorecard indicators. Leading states set new, higher benchmarks on a majority of indicators. Conversely, states in the lowest quartile often lag the leaders on multiple areas and the gaps have grown wider in multiple areas.

"Leading states have raised the bar for better access, quality of care, and reducing disparities," said Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President and study co-author Cathy Schoen. "Where you live in the U.S. matters in terms of your health care, and it shouldn't.”

The sharp variation across states spans access, quality of care, costs, and lives. For example, rates of hospital readmissions (within 30 days of a previous hospital stay) among Medicare beneficiaries ranged from a high of 23 percent of hospital admissions in Nevada to a low of 13 percent in Oregon. The percent of adult diabetics getting recommended preventive care ranged from a low of 33 percent in Mississippi to a high of 67 percent in Minnesota as of 2006–07, a new high. On these and other measures, the lowest ranked states would have to improve 40 percent to 100 percent on average to achieve the performance of top ranking states.

The scorecard points to substantial opportunities to improve. If all states could reach the level achieved by the top performing states:
  • Twenty-nine million more people would have health insurance—cutting the number of uninsured by more than half;
  • Nearly 78,000 fewer adults and children would die prematurely every year from conditions that could have been prevented with timely and effective health care;
  • Nine million more adults age 50 and older would receive recommended preventive care, and almost 800,000 more children would receive key vaccinations;
  • Five billion dollars could be saved annually by avoiding preventable hospital admissions and readmissions for vulnerable elderly and disabled residents.

You can download the report Aiming Higher by clicking here. An interactive map that allows users to look at and download individual state information and compare states on various measures is available at

Thursday, October 15, 2009

One Third of Adults Use Social Media for Medical Information

The Health 2.0 market grew substantially over the past year – 35% of adults in the U.S. now use social media for health and medical purposes. This translates into 80 million consumers creating or consuming content on health blogs, message boards, chat rooms, health social networks and communities.

A minority of consumers still report being influenced by social media; however, this differs depending on the health need or disease state. People with certain illnesses or health conditions (e.g. mental health, fibromyalgia, etc.) rely on and are influenced by user-generated content more than others.

These findings come from Cybercitizen Health™ v9.0, a 2009 study of 8,600 adults conducted by pharmaceutical and healthcare research company Manhattan Research.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Want to Know How Long You'll Wait at the ER?

There's an App for That!

HCA's East Florida Division is using RSS feeds to post emergency room wait times on electronic billboards. They've also recently launched an iPhone app (iTriage) and texting service which pinpoints local ERs, wait times and provides directions. The bottom line -- company spokesman Ed Fishbough reports substantial increases in the number of patient visits across 12 regional hospitals since the advent of the campaign.

HCA has 5 billboards up today and 5 more planned for the coming 2 weeks.

Learn more at Fast Company.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Study Concludes Retail Clinics as Good as Doctors' Offices for Routine Care

When it comes to routine illnesses, retail clinics run by CVS, WalMart and others provide care that is as good as and more cost effective than doctors, hospitals and urgent care centers, according to a recently released study by Rand Corporation. Research findings debunked criticisms levied by the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics regarding the quality of care provided by the convenience care retailers, when it found no major differences in key clinical practices such as follow-up or prescribing habits.

What was different? The cost of providing the care was less – in some cases, dramatically so – than for the same services provided in more traditional medical sites.

The study was published in September in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Friday, October 9, 2009

SHSMD 2009 Brand Mastery Presentation

Brand alignment across administrative, clinical, business development and marketing functions can transform an organization from one that simply 'promotes' a brand to one that 'delivers.' Joel English (BVK), Rob Klein (Klein & Partners) and I had the pleasure of talking on this topic at last week's SHSMD conference. Here are our slides from that session.

Lee Aase's WHPRMS Presentation

If you can't make today's Wisconsin Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society's meeting, you can still check out Lee Aase's presentation on "Why Social Media are Essential to the Future of Health Care, and How You Can Get Started."

You can also hear Lee at the 13th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference in Las Vegas, November 2 - 4, 2009.

Top 10 'Game Changing' Medical Innovations for 2010

What breakthrough medical innovations can we expect to see in 2010? The list was unveiled this past week at the Cleveland Clinic’s 2009 Medical Innovation Summit in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland Clinic clinicians and researchers spent months evaluating new developments in medical technologies, devices and therapies to arrive at a select group most likely to reshape healthcare.

Here is their Top 10 in 2010.
  1. Bone Conduction of Sound for Single-Sided Deafness: 
A new non-surgical, removable hearing and communication device designed to imperceptibly transmit sound via the teeth to help people with single-sided deafness.
  2. Low-Volume, Low-Pressure Tracheal Tube Cuff to Reduce Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia: A device that dramatically reduces the risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia and death in the hospital ICU by providing continuous effective airway seals.
  3. Continuous-Flow Ventricular Assist Devices: Tiny 3-ounce devices surgically attached alongside the heart that quietly and effectively take over the pumping ability of the heart.
  4. Non-Vitamin K Antagonist Oral Anticoagulants:
Predictable and well-tolerated alternatives to the oral anticoagulant warfarin that provide a more convenient—and safe—way for patients to dose themselves and prevent blood-clot formation.
  5. Fertility Preservation through Oocyte Cryopreservation:
A rapidly-improving technology that allows eggs of a healthy woman to be safely frozen and stored, ready to be thawed and fertilized at a later date.
  6. Forced Exercise to Improve Motor Function in Patient’s With Parkinson’s:
Pedaling at 90 RPMs on a tandem bike to dramatically improve motor functioning of patients with Parkinson’s disease.
  7. Outpatient Diagnosis of Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders:
Self-contained, reliable, at-home sleep-monitoring devices for screening, diagnosing, and treatment assessment of sleep-related breathing disorders.
  8. Oral Thrombopoeitin (TPO) Receptor Agonist that Stimulates Platelet Production: A recently approved drug that stimulates production of cells in bone marrow that form platelet cells in the blood.
  9. Devices for Occluding Left Atrial Appendage to Reduce Stroke Risk:
Device alternatives to long-term warfarin use that can prevent clots from developing in patients with atrial fibrillation.
  10. Whole-Slide Imaging for Management of Digital Data in Pathology: A technology for creating digital pathology slides with excellent image quality that can be viewed, stored, streamed over the Internet, and analyzed on a computer.

Learn more at their website ( where you can also download a PDF of Top 10 in 2010.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Performance Edge: 13th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference

The 13th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference is coming up soon. Healthcare marketing executives, webmasters, social media strategists, IT managers and others will convene November 2 – 4, 2009 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas to learn more about emerging trends and prevailing practices in all things digital.

Headliners include Lee Aase of Mayo Clinic, political pollster Mark Allen, social media expert Shel Holtz, Kelly Faley of Sharp Healthcare, David Feinberg of New York Presbyterian, and Grad Conn of Microsoft. They’ll be joined by a few dozen other experts presenting on topics such as:
  • An Enterprise Approach to Physician Web Search Development
  • Maximum Impact; Minimum Dollars
  • Driving a Great Brand from the Inside Out: Creating a Dynamic Intranet
  • Digital Trends and the Evolving Patient-Physician Relationship
  • Five Principles to Survive Six Product Launches in Twelve Months

This is a must-attend event for marketers leading their organizations into the digital age. The conference’s signature sponsors are Greystone.Net and StayWellCustom Communications.

For more information including registration instructions, click here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Guest Blogger: Rob Klein

Parking is Healthcare

Parking may not seem like it is related to healthcare; rather more a “retail” mentality. But parking is healthcare. Recently, while conducting focus groups for a hospital that is developing a new outpatient cancer facility, I asked cancer patients about their recent experiences using the existing facility (starting with parking). Apparently, physicians get the best spots on the first level and patients often have to circle up towards the top (and exposed) level.

Not too fun in the rain and snow, as one cancer patient put it. And another added that she wasn’t feeling well after chemo and forgot where she parked her car. Valet is so expensive, she commented. When she got to the parking deck she couldn’t find her car. Luckily a security guard in a golf cart picked her up. It took quite a while riding around every level clicking her electronic door opener on her keys before her car lights came on. She added, all I wanted to do was go home.

Another patient said to me that parking and walking to the facility takes so much time and he wasn’t sure how much of that he had left.

The point is while we may not look at parking as part of hospital quality, patients certainly do. For hospitals to evolve and grow they should take a page from both the retail and banking worlds. Remember when “bankers’ hours” was a negative phrase? Bankers’ hours no longer exist because banks finally embraced a more retail service model.

Parking can be a hassle when you’re healthy; just imagine looking for your car right after chemotherapy.

Rob Klein is president of Klein & Partners, a marketing research firm dedicated to keeping your brand healthy. Rob can be reached at 630.455.1773 or Learn more at

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's Time to 'Man Up' about Men's Health

At last week’s annual SHSMD meeting in Orlando, I joined a group of colleagues at a luncheon discussion table led by Phil Smith of Kansas City-based Prairie Dog. The topic – The Ascent of Man: The Boomer Male is About to be Heard Big Time in Healthcare Marketing – was intriguing, especially in an industry where women make or influence 80% of healthcare expenditures.

So here’s the situation – compared to women, men die younger. They begin to suffer from heart disease and stroke at least a decade earlier than their female counterparts. Are 1½ times more likely to die from heart disease, cancer and chronic respiratory illnesses. Are four times likely to commit suicide and twice as likely to die from alcohol-related deaths. These are diseases that can mostly be detected and treated with success before it’s too late.

What stands in the way? Men’s reluctance to seek medical care. They make 30% fewer trips to the doctor than women, are 38% more likely to neglect cholesterol levels, and overlook – or avoid – screenings for male cancers.

“We’re ‘probe-aphoic,’” said one of the men sitting at our table. Which is another way of saying that attitude matters. A recent article in the Chicago Tribune on Masculinity and Men’s Health cites several research studies that reveal men’s reluctance to seek medical care may have a lot more to do with conforming to masculine ideals of self-control, risk-taking, pain tolerance, competitiveness and independence than we often acknowledge. In fact, in these studies, high masculinity scores correlated with low scores on health behaviors.

The bottom line – to reach men, the messaging has to appeal more to male ideas about controlling fears, providing for family, retaining virility, achieving success and playing harder than to general ideas regarding prevention and good health. Brands such as Viagra and Flomax have certainly brought these issues into the light of day.-

Where there is unmet need, there is marketing opportunity. The bigger challenge for marketers targeting boomer males will be breaking through with a value proposition and brand messaging that gets their attention.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lessons Docs Could Learn From Retail Clinics

“Fast, convenient flu shots here” read the poster that caught my eye while strolling briskly from the C to B concourses this morning at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. I needed a flu shot and certainly wanted it fast and convenient given 40 minutes until my next flight.

“I’m here to give you some business,” I said to the nurse manning the kiosk. To which she replied with a smile, “And I’m here to give you great service. I’ll have you out of here in 4 minutes.”

True to her word, I filled out a very short form, handed over my credit card, rolled up the sleeve, winced at the needle stick and walked away in less than 5 minutes. “Thank you and have a nice flight,” she said.

Before I got to the gate, there was an email message on the iPhone thanking me again for my business and providing an electronic notation for inclusion in my medical record. “Please provide this document to your physician to update your medical record regarding the vaccine you have received.”

It’s ironic that the most difficult part of this whole transaction will be figuring out how to forward the note for the medical record on to my primary care physician. I don’t have an email address for the office. In fact I’ve never received an email – or even snail mail for that matter – from my doctor (well, with the exception of the occasional bill). This is the same office where I couldn’t get in for a flu shot because those are only provided two afternoons a week for patients that aren’t being seen for other reasons.

Don’t get me wrong. I do like my doctor, but would love to send him and all his practice staff off to retail boot camp – just until the light bulb comes on about the customer-centered conveniences and courtesies of the retail model. Until then, I’ll be getting more of my routine health care needs met in the retail clinics.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Guest Blogger: Chris Bonney

When decisions regarding facility design, patient flow, registration systems and other design, process or policy issues are made, who is sitting at the table as the voice of the customer? Who evaluates the impact of those decisions on the customer experience? Once again, I am pleased to offer the insights and perspectives of long-time colleague Chris Bonney on this topic.

Tracking the Eyes That Count

I was at a meeting of some architects recently. In demonstrating their capabilities, they showed how they'd solved a tough design problem on a hospital expansion project by clustering treatment rooms in a way that increased operational efficiency and reduced construction cost. Sounds like a win-win proposition, doesn't it?

Only nowhere in the process was there input from the patients who'll be using the facility. And therein was laid the foundation for what is likely to be a history of low patient satisfaction with this facility.

No one checked to see if patients would object to all those treatment room with their curtain doors facing the same public area. No one checked to see if patients would understand the confusing and blandly colored wayfinding signage necessary to navigate the facility's labyrinth of interior corridors, none of which have visual cues to set them apart from each other. They didn’t consider that older patients might need covered places to sit down every fifty yards or so as they walk in from the parking lot in the rain, or whether they’ll even find their way through the three poorly marked left turns necessary to get into the facility’s parking lot.

Navigating the health system is challenging enough for most people even when they have all their faculties. But add advancing age, declining eyesight and hearing and the stress of whatever condition brings them into your healthcare facility and you multiply the opportunities for confusion, anxiety, anger and failure.

Remember “Brubaker,” the movie where Robert Redford arrived undercover as a new prisoner to get a glimpse of life in the penitentiary he’d been hired to clean up? Put yourself in the patient’s shoes. Take a walk around your facility wearing a blindfold, wearing someone else’s eyeglasses, wearing earplugs or with a cast on your leg. Start out on the street where the bus lets people off, or at the farthest point in the parking lot. Do it in the daytime and at night. Do it in a wheelchair. Spend some time in each of your waiting rooms just listening. Pick a random ER patient and observe that patient through his or her entire stay at the hospital. Sit in a patient room and listen to the staff conversations outside.

After you’ve done all this, you might be surprised how different your impressions are from what they are now, and how many new ideas you’ll pick up. You could learn a lot from your customers.

Chris Bonney is president of Bonney & Company, a Virginia-based marketing research firm. He can be reached at 757-481-7030 or by e-mail at:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Recommended Reading for Chief Marketing Officers

Looking for reading recommendations? The following offer healthcare CMO’s interesting perspectives and good insights on the topics of creative thinking, marketing, brand, competitive strategy and leadership.
  • Marketing as Strategy: Understanding the CEOs Agenda for Driving Growth and Innovation by Nirmalya Kumar
  • The Shift: The Transformation of Today’s Marketers into Tomorrow’s Growth Leaders by Scott Davis
  • Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic by Kent Seltman and Leonard Berry
  • The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott
  • Marketing Metrics: 50+ Metrics Every Executive Should Master by Paul W. Farris, Neil T. Bendle, Phillip E. Pfeifer, and David J. Reibstein
  • Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day by Dave Evans and Susan Bratton
  • Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon McKensie
  • Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis

These should keep you busy for a while. Have recommendations of your own? Please pass them along!