Sunday, March 01, 2009

Knowable, Noble

Three days after an outstanding AMA-Houston Healthcare SIG seminar at Rice University, Houston pediatrician Dr Ana Malinow wrote in the Houston Chronicle about treating a six-year-old girl in a public clinic:

When I saw her, her hand was swollen to twice the normal size, purple, tender and warm to the touch, with a red streak (signifying an extension of…infection…to the bloodstream)…she was uninsured and had been sent home with a prescription that her mother tried to fill but was unable to afford. How much did the antibiotic…cost? $500.

The four speakers who addressed “Marketing Healthcare under a New Administration” were effective and humorous. Passionate. Completely engaged with almost 100 attendees. Each one lit up a different facet of the American healthcare system in crisis…a phrase that’s still stabbingly relevant as Malinow’s op-ed letter makes clear.

The nature of this blog makes it difficult to condense two hours of presentations and QAs into a few paragraphs. Still, I’m revisiting the event because of the high quality of the presentations.

Dr Lewis Foxhall, President of the Harris County Medical Society, delivered the overview and laid the foundations of the case, quickly but effectively covering present circumstances.

Memorial City Medical Center’s Tim Schauer addressed policy issues and made the case that pay-for-performance will never work because medicine is still a “practice.” He also spotlighted the nature of special interests.

Houston Wellness Association president Jonathan Lack portrayed wellness as key player in prospective solutions, emphasizing that workplace wellness is a productivity tool. He vividly revealed portrayed the challenges of community and public health. Lack contends that today’s medical center is a sick-care model and it’s considerably overburdened.

Yaffe Deutser’s President/COO, Brad Deutser, concluded with what might be called the “capitalist model” of marketing healthcare: The state of the economy isn’t going to change the number of affluent people but will change what the affluent people buy from doctors and dentists. He suggests that marketing effectiveness will still be an organizational survival mechanism, targeting more profitable prospects.

In presenting, Deutser unconsciously set the tone for my morning. One of his premises was, all target prospect information can be found – “Today, everything is knowable.” What I heard the first few times Deutser said this is, “Today, everything is noble.”

Compared to healthcare in some parts of the world, America has arguably progressed only slowly to noble. The most valuable transformation under the new administration in Washington, then, is redefining how our people deserve and receive healthcare.

My big takeaway from Thursday’s marketing seminar is that marketers can take more of a role, a noble role, in fostering improved healthcare access.

In an issue with so very many stakeholders (doctors, community activists, “ordinary” people, to name only a few), I want us to make it more. Don’t ask me how, yet. It can’t be just about the ads – or the brands. It’s can’t be just about knowing.

A survey’s being conducted now – if you’re invited to participate, fill it out please. I’ll report the results. Extra thanks to the quite large number of people who made this SIG event a success. Event photos by Suzanne Jarvis at Shutterfly. Graphic courtesy of Aceofhearts1968, Wikimedia.


Susan Saurage-Altenloh said...

It's not often that we have the privilege of hearing from exceptional talent from many related walks as we did at the AMA Healthcare SIG event. More knowledge and real-world application + incentives alignment will lead to a more ‘noble’ achievement in healthcare.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thanks, Susan, for your comments. I buy the "real-world application" part. I think we're all gonna have to get out and push, though.

Rebecca Castillo said...

Here are the Q-and-A session question cards from last week’s HCSIG “Marketing Healthcare under a New Administration.”

1. Would having the Germany/Massachusetts System be so bad? And what would it look like?
2. Under universal healthcare, using education is critical to reach masses. But who absorbs the cost of education? Is this a function of the federal agencies or healthcare providers?
3. What do you think of the recent Twitter broadcast of a renal surgery from Henry Ford Hospital?
4. Concerning major stakeholders: Is there an ox that will be the “sacrificial ox?” (as in, “Who’s ox gets gored?”
5. Can the federal plan bridge the gap of 15-20% prevention to 75-80% prevention without Pharma?
6. From a marketing approach what percentages of your marketing dollars represent branding versus directly targeting a practice? (cancer, pediatrics, etc)
7. As a customer of Memorial City Medical Center, when will you make WIFI available to patients?
8. What is your perspective about “medical tourism” as a solution to provide universal healthcare?
9. Do you think hospitals in Houston should keep up with hospitals in Mexico to provide universal healthcare?
10. Why do healthcare providers in Houston not focus on more clinical research they do and use it as a marketing tool? The Pharma companies find this can increase the bottom line of profitability. Is it that no one in Houston knows how or that the subject is too sticky?
11. What is healthcare doing to face the issues of addictions? Smoking; Food; Alcohol?
12. Is there no intention to “fix me” during or after a major illness, does self-termination (suicide) become socially/politically acceptable?
13. If doctors drive the healthcare industry, should health institutions market more to physicians or to patients? Which one really drives the decision?
14. US cost of healthcare is the highest anywhere? Why? And how will ever come down? High cost has not provided the best results compared to other countries.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thank you, Rebecca. The high number of questions demonstrates the exceptional level of audience participation. I wish we’d written down all the answers.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

According to this morning's Houston Chronicle (or at least its headline writer), "Frontline finds health care system ailing." The head does a good article by David Barron an injustice, since it implies that Frontline has just discovered this situation.

Of course, now that the media's on it, I suppose it's official.

Nevertheless, the article (which previews the TV broadcast) has a number of good points: