PRSA Health Academy Conference

March 24, 2008

 

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PR and health care are my two passions in life, so if you feel the same way, you should attend the 19th annual PRSA Health Academy conference in Chicago, April 2-4. 

The conference will address strategies for communicating effectively to to the cross-generational and multicultural health care consumer.  Implementing PR strategies and tactics in the health care field and using social media will also be discussed.

In today’s society, health care consumers want products and services to accomodate their lifestyles.  Targeted communications play a critical role.  Whether it’s a consumer’s age, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation, they expect health care practices to meet their individual needs.

By attending the conference, you will be able to sharpen your PR skills and learn effective strategies.

It can be quite a challenge for PR professionals to communicate health information because there are many ways people access and process information.  Information on the Web for instance has to be quick and easy to access.

PR professionals need to think about their target audience.  What do consumers want to know?  What do consumers want to look at?  The younger generation wants to access social networks and click on links to retrieve information.  The older generation needs information to be accessible and written clearly so it’s understandable, but all information needs to be relevant to everyone.

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Look What Google’s Doing!

March 12, 2008

 

medical-records.jpgLook who’s entering the health records biz: Google!

The future looks bright for Google but not so bright for PR.  The idea of medical records being stored online could make people a little nervous. 

Google began storing medical records of a few thousand people Feb. 21 as a pilot project.  The project involved 1,500 to 10,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic.  They all volunteered to an electronic transfer of their personal health records so they could be retrieved through Google’s new service.

Each record includes information about medical histories, prescriptions and allergies.  The records will be protected by a password that is also required to use other Google services such as e-mail and search tools.

Private medical information will be in the hands of Google.  Can it be trusted? 

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I think it’s a little scary to know that health records will be available online.  Privacy may become an issue along with third-party access because the online health records are a violation of HIPAA

According to a CNN article about Google and the health records, HIPAA classifies medical information as being a privileged communication between a doctor and patient.  This means that a patient who agrees to transfer his or her medical records to Google could be unwillingly making it easier for the government or other legal groups to get its hands on the information.  If the medical records aren’t protected by HIPAA, the medical information could be used for marketing purposes also, you never know.

The Associated Press learned from the Cleveland Clinic about the pilot project Google was conducting.  The Cleveland Clinic already keeps the personal health records of more than 120,000 patients on its own online service called MyChart.

Technology has improved over the years allowing more information to be accessed by the public. Could this technology infringe on people’s privacy?  Could your health records be at risk of falling into the wrong hands?  I know I would not feel comfortable putting my personal health records on the Internet.  I think I will just use the old fashion way for now: going to my doctor to access my records.


Wal-Mart and…Health Clinics?

March 2, 2008

 

medical.jpgIt doesn’t seem to me like Wal-Mart and health clinics mix, but Wal-Mart seems to think so.

Wal-Mart says it will open 400 health clinics by 2010.  The clinics offer preventive and routine health services.  There is already 77 clinics in its stores across 12 different states, but 23 of its clinics closed suddenly Jan. 18, 2008.  The operator of the clinics, CheckUps, fell behind on payroll payments and other expenses causing the clinics to close, but Wal-Mart is working to reopen all of those clinics as soon as possible.

It will be interesting to see how Wal-Mart deals with this situation in the future.  I think it would be beneficial for Wal-Mart to do a little research and partner with companies it knows will succeed.

Wal-Mart must have wised up after its 23 clinics closed because it is partnering with various providers now such as SmartCare, St. Vincent Health System and RediClinic.

“Having the local hospital system involved will increase the level of trust among shoppers,” Wal-Mart spokeswoman Deisha Galberth said.

From a PR perspective, building trust among consumers is critical and will determine the success or failure of a company.  I hope Wal-Mart can prove to its customers that it can successfully run its health clinics.

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If Wal-Mart can’t, its reputation will once again be put on the line.  Consumers might be leery to go to its clinics because of Wal-Mart’s past reputation.

Do you remember how recalled toys were still being sold on the shelves in Wal-Mart stores?  How about the fake blog called Wal-Marting Across America?

I wonder how Wal-Mart’s clinics will affect the health care industry?

I came across an interesting article about the 20 ways Wal-Mart clinics will affect United States health care.  Wal-Mart could be on its way to improving health care if it keeps a positive image.

Do you think Wal-Mart’s clinics will succeed or do you think Wal-Mart will struggle to maintain its clinics?