What’s Driving Technology in Health Care? A Look at How Digital is Changing the Patient Experience

It’s undeniable we are in the midst of a national discussion about patients taking charge of their health and how health care providers can become more resourceful. There’s a clear call for health care to improve how providers manage their patients, practices and day-to-day medicine. And, there’s a distinct parallel with technology innovations that offer convenience, flexibility, efficiency and engagement with health care providers.

Patients want to be in control of their needs. Patients want to diagnose their illness, manage their condition and select a health care provider based on what’s important to them. To help understand some of the challenges and opportunities facing our clients, here’s a look at the latest technological developments that are changing the way we market health care and gain loyalty from physicians, patients, and providers.

digital health


Virtual Visits

Recently, we discussed why it’s not necessary to complicate the patient experience – it’s a lot like the consumer experience. Patients want access, affordability, and personalized service, so it’s no surprise that smartphones, social media and online retailers are shaping consumer expectations when it comes to their health care experience. From a patient’s perspective, a health

Crisis Management

Is It Too Late Now to Say Sorry? Communicating Medical Errors

Medical Error

It’s no surprise that lawyers and communications professionals don’t always see eye to eye.  This can be especially true when it comes to medical errors, the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Medical errors claim an estimated 251,000 lives each year, but they affect even more, with temporary or permanent injuries. Some people never even realize that they’ve been the victim of a medical error.

The purpose of this post isn’t to try to vilify providers. The fact is – even the best doctors are capable of medical mistakes. To err is human. But, in many instances, providers are encouraged to say as little as possible following a medical error, adding insult to injury for victims. After all, saying “I’m sorry” means the victim has a slam dunk in the court room.  Right?  Right???  Not always.

Traditionally, the only way for patients to find out what went wrong has been to sue. A study from the July 2004 issue of Health Affairs found that patients’ primary motivators to sue included:

  • Perception that the physician was not honest about the incident
  • Perception that no one explained what happened
  • Advice from someone—often another health professional—to sue


Digital Marketing

Health Trend: Young Adults Are Saying No to Smoking

A recent BBC article revealed that smoking is down among all age groups in the U.K. The study, conducted by the Office of National Statistics, shows the largest decrease was among 18- to 24-year-olds. Smoking declined from 25.8 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2015 among that age group.

The data suggests one reason for the decsmoking-737057_1920rease is that youth and teens aren’t picking up the habit in the first place. Seventy percent of 16- to 24-year-olds have never started smoking cigarettes – up from 46 percent in 1974, when records began.

The CDC says it’s seeing the same trend in the U.S.

So, what’s causing them to say no to smoking? George Butterworth, from Cancer Research UK, says it’s a combination of government-funded services, smoking bans and mass media campaigns.

Let’s take a look at three tobacco prevention campaigns that seem to be having an impact.

The Real Cost Seeks to Prevent Youth-Aged Smoking

In 2014, the FDA launched the first federally funded U.S. youth tobacco education campaign, The Real Cost. The campaign has two goals – educate about the harmful effects of tobacco and reduce the number of youth ages 12-17 who…

Digital Marketing

The Digital Health Care Consumer: 5 Insights for Hospital Communicators


I was pleased to see one of the conclusions drawn by Deloitte, based on its 2016 survey of consumer health care priorities. In their report, they made the spot-on observation that “scaling technology and designing digital for health consumers must be more than a digitization of current state processes.”

Defining what consumers want from their health care experience isn’t all that complicated. They want access to affordable health care, and they want a personalized experience. Can I get the health care I need when I need it? How much will it cost me? Do they know me and understand what I need?

Delivering on it is another matter. We know that smartphones, social media and online retailers are shaping consumer expectations when it comes to their health experience. So what implications does that have for health care providers? More specifically, how should consumer preferences impact how providers are showing up online, and the digital experience consumers are having with them?

Having spent the first 15 years of my career working for hospitals and health systems, I have some of my own ideas. But I wanted to shape my thinking through the lens…


Crisis and the Health Care Industry: Q&A with the PadillaCRT Crisis Team

medical-563427_1920In a crisis the stakes are always high. No matter the practice area, reputations are on the line and making a bad situation worse is the last thing a company wants to do. But each industry has their own unique risks that require a tailored crisis plan. I sat down with the PadillaCRT Crisis Team to discuss crisis and critical issues in the health care industry and how they support the agency’s Health Care Team and its clients.

What are the most common types of crises that you see in the health care sector?

Right now the most common events you see are bad patient outcomes, data breaches, active shooter situations, and concerns regarding the Affordable Care Act. Data breach has become a particular concern because of the amount of personal and financial information health organizations have access to.

How are the Health Team’s crisis needs different than other practice areas?

The health care industry is extremely regulated, which limits what we can and cannot say in response to a crisis. For example, in the event of a bad patient outcome, we can’t fully disclose the situation due to HIPAA restrictions without patient approval.…

Consumer Marketing

Sponsored Content: The way to a Consumer’s Eyeballs

Sponsored-Content-297x300It’s no secret that social media and websites like BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post and Mashable have changed the way we consume news. Sites like these initially honed in on millennials and the way we consume content to provide concise, digestible digital content catered to our short attention spans. (Of course, now everyone else has jumped on the bandwagon, considering Boomers spend at least 20 hours more per week consuming online content than Millennials and Gen-Xers, but I digress…)

This week, NBC News decided to throw its hat into the ring with the launch of Better, a wellness vertical devoted to helping readers improve their lives. The outlet hopes to stand out from other wellness publications by focusing not only on health and wellness, but taking a holistic approach on how to better oneself.

While NBC News is known for its hard news content, this is actually the outlet’s second unveiling of a completely revamped strategy highlighting a specific, topic-based approach – hoping to land itself somewhere in between Mashable and Vox. Its science and tech site, Mach, launched in November, and NBC plans to launch Think, a vertical…


Are social platforms a growing trend for doctors?

Have you recently befriended your doctor on social media? Likely not, because patient-physician engagement on social platforms violates the ethics of HIPAA. And while chatting with your doctor sounds fun, your followers probably don’t want to read about your most recent visit anyway.

But there is a social platform that doctors can use for engaging virtually with colleagues called Doximity. It’s an online professional network that allows physicians, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to find each other and communicate without violating privacy

Since its launch, Doximity has garnered more than a half million members (meaning more than 60 percent of U.S. physicians are verified members). Using the platform, physicians can seek out specialists for their primary care patients or send and receive patient medical information.

Its usability and features remind me of LinkedIn, except it functions as a closed-provider network. Physicians can share industry research and medical news, while also removing the hurdles many providers face when trying to communicate with one another.

So how can providers get connected? Doctors need to reach out to potential colleagues within the community and have…


Good news for meal-kit delivery companies: meal planning could reduce the risk for heart disease

Krinkes Buzz Bin

If you haven’t heard, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. Happy Valentine’s Day.

But guess what? New evidence shows that doing something as simple as meal planning can impact risk factors for heart disease, according to a new statement published by the American Heart Association journal.

“Meal timing may affect health due to its impact on the body’s internal clock,” said Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Ph.D., an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University in New York City.

While St-Onge indicated that more research would need to be done in humans before this can be stated as a fact, this is especially good news for meal-kit delivery companies such as Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. These types of services have really taken off in the last year, mostly marketing to people who don’t have time to get to the grocery store or plan a meal. But now, these companies have another advantageous marketing angle. Or perhaps, one of the meal-kit companies will step up to sponsor research in humans.

There is also a link between eating breakfast and having lower…


No Room for Alternative Facts in Healthcare

Source: Pixabay

Over the weekend, advisor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, mentioned the use of “alternative facts” in an interview on Meet the Press. The show’s host, Chuck Todd, quickly pointed out that anything less than the truth is considered a falsehood.

As the buzzwords made the rounds on the internet, communications professionals had the chance to reflect on their ethics and ideals. The Public Relations Society of America released a statement that every communication professional should take to heart:

“Honest, ethical professionals never spin, mislead or alter facts. We applaud our colleagues and professional journalists who work hard to find and report the truth.”

One industry where the truth is particularly needed is health care. Patients take statements and recommendations from providers and companies as fact, because the health care system is built on a strong foundation of trust. You have to trust that a medical device or prescription is going to treat or cure an ailment. Health care communicators need to embrace the responsibility of trust by providing messaging based on integrity.

Let’s look at some examples throughout the health care industry that demand truth:

Medical technology: Although medical devices undergo stringent regulatory testing, errors still occur in these


The Healthcare Communicator’s Survival Guide to a Trump Presidency


While president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration isn’t until tomorrow, healthcare communicators are already feeling the effects of the transition and bracing for change.

It’s a new era, for sure, and unconventional, to say the least. But, fear not, we’re here to help you prepare.

As we look at Trump’s campaign platforms, cabinet picks, and his most recent press conference, there is a clear sense of his priorities in healthcare. As communicators, it’s our job to determine not only the impact on our business, but also how we can contribute to the conversation as thought leaders.

Top Issues

  • Repeal/replacement of the Affordable Care Act Trump-tweet-on-helath-care(“Obamacare”/ACA) – While we know that Trump plans to dismantle ACA, we don’t have a clear sense of what will replace it. During his confirmation hearing yesterday, Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services, shared only that a plan would be ready in March. He alluded to some changes, including that “able-bodied” people will need to work to qualify for Medicaid benefits and removing the provision for young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26. While Trump has said