Transparency during the consumerization of healthcare

I’m at the Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Summit, where, over the next few days, we’ll be considering the transformation of healthcare through empathy and innovation. We’re just a few hours in and have already heard from some great speakers, been brought to tears more than once by moving video storytelling, and discussed barriers to innovation from digital disparities, to cost of entry, to regulation and privacy issues, to patient expectations and clinical realities.

Dr. William Morris, Cleveland Clinic; Dr. Wayne Guerra, iTriage; Dr. Imad Najm, Cleveland Clinic; Adrei Pop, Human API

Dr. William Morris, Cleveland Clinic; Dr. Wayne Guerra, iTriage; Dr. Imad Najm, Cleveland Clinic; Adrei Pop, Human API

The overarching theme thus far – from Mobile App creators, to physicians, and a Google executive – is the need for transparency.

When mHealth is adopted in this country, it will be because consumers demand it. But, to get consumers engaged using telehealth and health-related apps, we (developers, communicators, physicians, etc.) have to set accurate expectations from the start. We have to educate users about what to expect from the app, and be completely transparent about its limitations, and – most importantly – be clear that technology should augment the consumer experience of healthcare, not replace physicians.

The onus is on mHealth brands – and their communication professionals – to help guide patient expectations. If mHealth is to be a consumer product, communicators need to help users to understand what apps can and can’t do to improve or facilitate health care and health information seeking. According to William Morris, the Associate Chief Medical Information Officer at Cleveland Clinic and award-winning innovator, customers need us to tell them that these “technologies aren’t meant to replace physicians, but to augment [medical care].”

Consumers will be disappointed unless they have realistic expectations. Simply adding a page on your website with consumer instructions will go a long way toward ensuring that your paying customers get the experience they think they’re paying for. More happy customers means more positive reviews, and ultimately, more amplification of your value proposition. That’s what we’re all after – right?

Where do you think the consumerization of health care will lead? Who do you want tomorrow’s patient to be and how can you help today’s patient to become that informed consumer?

The Complex Role of Community Managers in Small Business Communications

Ever wonder just what exactly a community manager does?

Is it advertising? Social media strategy? Content production? Media relations? Business advising? Market research?

The easy answer is: yes to all.

community manager at work

Image courtesy of Flickr (CC)

Alison is a community manager for a local start-up. She has a masters degree in communications, and over 10 years of experience. Alison begins the day reading headlines, looking for stories that might be interesting to her employers, possible blog topics, or sharable in social media.

Because she works for a small company, Alison is more than a social media manager, more than a marketer: she’s an integral part of the daily business operations. She is the public relations rep, monitoring the brand’s image, expertly responding to customer comments and negative feedback. She is the media relations rep, pitching story ideas to overwhelmed journalists. She is responsible for blogger relations, reaching out to a list of bloggers to get influential eyeballs on your product. She is a researcher, always asking questions about who your next customers will be and how best to reach them. Alison is a writer, producing content and editing communications for your team.

Alison doesn’t work your typical 9-5. As most PR professionals are acutely aware, the rise of social media and digital journalism means that PR reps generally start their workday before 7am and see more of their smartphones than they do their spouses.

How much should you pay a community manager? According to Salary.com, Alison should draw a salary of $80,000-$150,000 depending on where she lives (the low end is for small towns like Cleveland, OH, the higher end for the big guns in New York and Silicon Valley). Many start-ups can’t afford to pay a salary this high. Some don’t think they need communications help. But when you look at the value community managers like Alison bring to a company, many start-ups won’t succeed without her. If it’s time to hire a community manager, make sure you find one who shares your companies values and is passionate about what you do.

The next time you speak with your community manager, say thank you. Thank you for your tireless efforts, many of which (especially all those media pitches) go unseen.

The next time you talk salary for that community manager, remember that it’s communications that builds your brand reputation, that secures donors and investors, and attracts customers.

If you’re a small business looking to hire a consultant to manage your community (and cut down on some costs), please visit http://www.i2icommunicationsltd.com and get started today!

 

Sebastian Thrun: Failure Is Beautiful

Sebastian ThrunWhen Sebastian Thrun approached the podium at Cleveland Clinic’s Ideas for Tomorrow Wednesday, I was both intrigued and put-off by his saunter and his eye-wear. It’s not his fault – I generally approach fame with a certain sense of skepticism. But when one of his opening lines was: “I hope to show you how often I fail,” I was hooked.

It turns out Thrun and I have a common passion for entrepreneurism, for experimenting with new processes in order to change our industries significantly. But, thinking and creating without boundaries involves a great deal of risk taking.

Thrun gave us a chronology of his successes by highlighting his failures because he claims “there is no learning without failure.” Health-tech entrepreneurs often risk everything – investing countless time and money developing ideas that may never work. Or they’ll get their gadget to work on Wednesday – only to find that someone else brought it to market late Tuesday night. These challenges are part of the process of innovation, which Thurn describes as a process of testing and failing.

Process of Innovation according to Sebastian Thrun

Each failure brings us a little closer to our goal – even reshapes the end goal, transforming it into something we wouldn’t have dreamed possible at the outset. If you told me 20 years ago that by 2012, approximately 76% of people would consult the Internet, Dr. Google, before calling their physician I never would’ve believed you.  But then computers became smaller and smaller, information more and more easily accessible, and it’s changed not only the way we ask questions but the very questions themselves.

Someday, someone is going to make health as addictive as video games – and make it lasting – and I want to be there to see it happen. Industries are changed by people who are fearless. Failure teaches us an important lesson: hard work is no substitute for vision. You have to have vision when the experiment you’ve been working on, the app you’ve been developing for years, or the pitch you’ve been researching for months, goes wrong. Without vision, we’d all throw in the towel and learn to love a 9-5 job. “In all these failures,” says Thrun, “there is some beautiful insight that drives us forward.”

Let’s cling to the vision.

The Ingredients of Innovation by Sebastian Thrun

Photo of slide from Sebastian Thrun’s Cleveland Clinic Ideas for Tomorrow presentation

#Start-up Insomnia: Do Entrepreneurs Ever Sleep?

woman with insomniaI read an excerpt from a book about to be released by Andrew Yang called Smart People Should Build Things. In it, Yang describes starting a business as something like having a baby. Now that I have done both – had babies, and start a business  – I can see the similarities.

When my first child was born, she slept in a bassinet beside my bed. As with most babies, she was a noisy little sleeper – but I didn’t know the difference between her sleepy grunts and fussing. Every peep that came from that bassinet was like a clap of thunder over the house. My daughter was (and still is) a restless sleeper. For months, I fed her every time she moved. (So, every half hour or so.) I can’t remember ever being so tired – or so obsessed with something.

When my second child was born, he slept in the bassinet for two nights. I had by then realized that babies stir in their sleep. But that stirring set off all my hormonal motherly responses and prevented me from sleeping. I moved him into his own room on his third night home. And we both started sleeping for four hour intervals.

Now my children are older and – save the occasional nightmare – generally take care of their own middle-of-the-night needs. But I have a new baby to keep me up.

My business, a boutique communications firm for healthcare and tech start-ups, was born from passion. A passion for innovation and improvements in health care delivery and behavior change that sets my heart racing. I’m only in the very beginning stages of entrepreneurship and it’s very much like having a newborn baby in the house. I lie awake thinking of calls to action, of new ways to measure the impact of our work, of new story ideas, of new ways to engage customers and venture capitalists. I think of making subtle changes to websites I’ve developed. Of cutting the paychecks. Of strategies – mostly for my clients but also for my company, because I don’t get enough daytime hours to think of it.

I’ve got to figure out how to be a business owner and still sleep. How to be a business owner and be a wife/mother who might occasionally discuss topics other than her baby business. I’m a new mom. It’s terrifying. Exhilarating. Exhausting. But, at least I’m not lactating.