Last week we addressed how social media has transformed marketing and the way in which organizations of all kinds reach their audiences. Despite this sea change, recent studies suggest that health care is moving more slowly to leverage these new and increasingly important communication tools.
In one recent survey, only about 10 percent of hospitals and health systems could point to some form of social media presence, usually Twitter, Facebook, YouTube channels and/or blogs. Their intended aims ran the gamut from brand management to real-time public relations to community building.
In practical terms, such efforts can contribute to the following:
• Monitoring industry mention of your organization on sites like Technorati or Social Mention
• Participating in social media environments and forums to help drive conversation
• Forging deeper relationships with media outlets
• Driving employee and physician recruitment efforts
• Tapping into targeted communities, such as potential donors
Unfortunately, even the 10 percent who have embraced social media have not yet learned to fully exploit the social side of the equation. The vast majority of these communications tend to be one way, ignoring the true power of these tools: dialogue.
We will explore this missed opportunity in next week’s post, including identifying tactics for incorporating social media in ways that can truly power meaningful relationships with patients.
In a recent post on the Health Care blog, Kim Bellard expresses a sentiment too often neglected in the health care reform debate: Most in the industry, whether insurance companies, providers or government, have the interests of patients in mind.
The problem is not an evil industry. Rather, it’s that health care is, in her words, “done to patients,” rather than something patients drive and direct. This is a critical distinction. She goes on to outline a “bill of rights” for health care reform, including things like the right to affordable—but not free—coverage and the right to use health care date to manage one’s health.
Bellard identifies 10 such “rights.” Unfortunately, she fails to identify language access as a critical component. Rights five and six are related, but fall short:
• People have a right to make informed choices.
• People have a right to be able to understand their health coverage, and fairly compare their choices.
Perhaps health care translation is an implied need in these rights. But in a system increasingly occupied by limited English proficient patients, implied inclusion is no longer sufficient. It’s an easy fix, as simple as adding three words to the above rights: regardless of language. That’s reform that includes all patients.
There is a lot of talk going on at the moment about the importance of certification for those interpreters working in health care, and the volume of the conversation seems to be rising.
According to the Global Watchtower blog, estimates are that there are 15,000 to 17,000 medical interpreters at work in the U.S. This includes those for whom interpretation is their primary profession, as well as volunteers and bilingual health care staff, and telephone-based interpreters.
The majority are comprised of the second group, a collection of sometime, volunteer interpreters who find themselves playing that role in many cases because they happen to be bilingual. All too often, family and friends of the patients work as interpreters as well.
At present, there are two active efforts under way to address the certification issue, with initiatives being sponsored by the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters and the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters. A third, originally put forth by the National Coalition on Health Care Interpreter Certification, seems to have lost momentum in recent months.
Whichever way the debate finally goes, the reality is that relying on untrained volunteer interpreters is not only problematic, it can be dangerous. However well meaning, such a situation can put patients’ health and their very life in jeopardy. As we attempt to work out the challenges of national health care reform, the time is right to address this important issue as well.
Developing Culturally Appropriate Marketing Communications:
Tips and lessons learned from the trenches
For healthcare organizations, attracting and supporting ethnic markets has quickly transformed from an “add on consideration” to a powerful consumer group and strategic piece of the business model. The success of President Obama’s broad-based and extremely diverse campaign tells us that the tipping point in our culture has already happened. What is necessary to harness the power of today’s ethnic market? Short of having a dedicated ethnic marketing group, how can you incorporate best practices to your existing marketing infrastructure to ensure that your brand and content resonate across cultures?
Scott Paro, Marketing Manager, San Francisco Health Plan
Janet Johnson, VP of Marketing, KC Distance Learning
Chanin Ballance, President and CEO, viaLanguage
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