Kathie Melocco - Health Activism

Blog dedicated to Social Justice and Health and Wellbeing Activism

June 24, 2013

Choice: Health Washing - Dodgy Claims Made By Breakfast Drinks

If you are rushing out the door to work without breakfast and grab a liquid breakfast instead at the local convenience store thinking that you are at least starting the day with a healthy drink. Think again:

The number of on-the-go breakfast drinks might be growing as they tap into consumers' increasing demands for meals on the go, but is convenience trumping nutrition?

Alarmingly they are also a growing category in the supermarket aisles.

A Choice investigation found that 10 of the 23 products investigated have more than 23g of sugar per serve - roughly the same as a chocolate bar.

Choice also found several popular liquid breakfast products including Sanitarium's Up & Go and Kellogg's breakfast drinks make dodgy nutritional claims.

According to Choice's website "Fibre Spruiking claims such as “High in fibre”, “fibre for digestive health”, the “goodness of three grains” – you’d be forgiven for thinking the products are actually high in fibre.

But the industry’s own voluntary Nutrient Claims Code of Practice allows products with as little as 1.5g of fibre per serve to claim they are a “source of fibre”.

Liquid breakfasts have on average 1.5% fibre, which is well below the 10 per cent benchmark for high fibre".

Labels: ,

June 23, 2013

Coaching Tips: How To Use Evergreen Content Strategically In Blog Posts for SEO

Photo Credit: Independent Fashion Bloggers
Photo Credit: Independent Fashion Bloggers

When I coach clients in the health space a good deal of our time is spent developing a content or as I call it story journey for their business. Everything you see online is content - the written word, the images, podcasts, video and so on. Content can amuse and educate but it is also a powerful tool for capturing the search engines and the people who are looking for whatever you do.  One of the best ways to improve your SEO is through blogging. Google loves blogs because they are updated regularly with new information relevant to its search customers.

It is important to cover the different types of content to reach new customers and raise brand awareness when planning your social media strategy and much of this starts with your blog.

You will need to master four types of content: evergreen, identity, people and what I call bread and butter content. In this four part series we will look at all types of content. Today we examine evergreen content.

Evergreen Content

Evergreen content is always relevant and useful. This type of content is rarely out of date because it addresses core issues. For example, a health blogger might post about a green smoothie a day detox - a 28 day programme. This post would be relevant for years. Or another example, tips on how and when to exercise when you are time poor.

Your blog will need a tool box of evergreen content. This content will get ranked by the search engines and bring new visitors to your blog. Well-written evergreen content has a greater chance of achieving and retaining a first page search ranking because of its relevance and comprehensive review of the subject.

Tip: Plan to focus your efforts on say 24 evergreen content posts for your blog when you set it up. Publish these posts evenly throughout the year. As a general guide examine your customers most frequently asked questions to determine what type of evergreen posts will be most useful to your audience.

Labels: , ,

June 04, 2013

McKinsey Global Institute Ranks Most Disruptive Technologies to 2025

Wireless Medicine
I'm a member of The World Futures Society which is always a source of excellent information and when this great insight into what disruptive technologies to watch for leading up to 2025 crossed my desk I thought it was worth re sharing. It warns business leaders not to wait until the time that these new technologies are exerting their influence as by that stage it will be too late to respond. 

Healthcare as we know is traditionally a laggard sector in terms of uptake of technology so there are some critical warnings to those who want to wait and adopt the we will see approach. The Internet of Things offers some vital clues: and the role of the patient as a partner in their care will change the sector forever. Healthcare consumers want to be more involved, want more education and access to this information will be the key.

Here's the McKinsey Report in a snapshot:

 What technologies will most radically transform human life in the next twelve years? The McKinsey Global Institute looked at more than a hundred possible candidates across a variety of technology fields and narrowed the most potentially disruptive down to a dozen. They are, in order of size of potential impact:

  • Mobile Internet defined as "increasingly inexpensive and capable mobile computing devices and Internet connectively."
  • Automation of knowledge work or "intelligent software systems that perform knowledge work tasks involving unstructrured commands and subtle judgments." An example might be IBM’s Watson system.
  • Internet of Things or "networks of low-cost sensors and actuators for data collection, monitoring, decision making and process optimization."
  • Cloud Technology or "use of computer hardware and software resources delivered over a network or the Internet, often as a service."
  • Advanced Robotics or "increasingly capable robots with enhanced senses, dexterity, and intelligence used to automate tasks or augment humans." This category is perhaps most famously personified by the Baxter robot (profiled in the May-June issue of THE FUTURIST magazine).
  • Autonomous and Near-Autonomous Vehicles.
  • Next Generation Genomics or "fast, low-cost gene sequencing, advanced big-data analytics, and synthetic biology."
  • Energy Storage.
  • 3D Printing
  • Advanced Materials defined as "materials designed to have superior characteristics." Much of what we today call nanotechnology would fall within this category.
  • Advanced Oil and Natural Gas Recovery
  • Renewable Energy
Of the above, the Mobile Internet, which could change the lives of more than 5 billion people around the globe, the automation of knowledge work, and the Internet of Things would have by far the largest economic impacts, according to McKinsey. All together, the above technologies could generate $14 to $33 trillion. But the authors caution that much of that growth will be at the expense of older technologies and even entire industries falling into obsolescence.

"When necessary, leaders must be prepared to disrupt their own businesses and make the investments to effect change," the report’s authors write. "By the time the technologies that we describe are exerting their influence on the economy in 2025, it will be too late for businesses, policy makers, and citizens to plan their responses. Nobody, especially businesses leaders, can afford to be the last person using video cassettes in a DVD world."
Source: Mckinsey Global Institute


Content Is King In Healthcare

Good storytelling in healthcare puts the heal back in health and builds the emotional connection with the patient and provider.

In recent years marketing has largely re-invented itself becoming a whole of organisation issue rather than a compartmentalised department. In essence with consumers becoming more connected and savvy there has been a need to move away from 'push' selling and return to the basics of human connection - through what we all do best, storytelling.

One organisation who is doing it well and understands the power of valuable content creation is the Cleveland Clinic, a 90-year-old nonprofit that runs nine community hospitals and 15 family health centres in the United States of America. Listed among the best hospital groups in the US, the clinic has posted over 30,000 pages of content and 1,500 videos on its websites. It maintains not only its main Web presences and social media sites, but more than 100 search engine marketing campaigns with distinct landing pages. There readers find information on diseases or conditions written by Cleveland Clinic physicians. Some include video and a downloadable guide; all allow consumers to make an appointment. The website also includes a “find a doctor” tool that enables patients to take virtual tours and access medical records. All corporate communications and most production are done in house, but the clinic does use outside partners to create applications or specific micro sites. The clinic’s health care content draws 2.2 million visitors a month, making it one of the most trafficked hospital websites in the country. It is mentioned thousands of times a year in the media, and the hospital system has created a Cleveland Clinic News Service channel run by four former broadcast journalists, who create stories on everything from seasonal allergies to complex heart surgery.

Labels: ,

“17 years for new medical practices to be adopted”: source

A tweet from South By Southwest by @DVanSickle led @epatientdave to finally blog about delays in medical adoption of new technologies - see full post here. It’s part of his presentation at the Kanter Family Foundation’s confab last May for their Learning Health System initiative. (Video of that speech is here.)

The issue is a statistic often quoted by advocates for improving medicine: “On average it takes 17 years for new practices to be adopted.” 
That’s pretty shocking – the idea that some doctors may not know something important to your university age kid, even if the info came out when that kid was in nappies!
The source turns out to be a paper published by the Institute of Medicine in their Yearbook of Medical Informatics 2000. 

June 03, 2013

Grant Baker - An Empowered Health Care Consumer’s Perspective

Cancer is a frightening word for anyone: Over the past few weeks I have been minding a colleague of mine's clients while he underwent surgery for an aggressive form of cancer. Despite a frightening diagnosis of signet cell adenocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, Grant's story and his approach to taking charge of his journey is truly inspiring and with Grant's permission I share it with you today.

Grant Baker is the Managing Director of CTC Digital in Australia, a company that provides healthcare content through its agreements with Health24.com (part of the NASPERS Group), and is the founder and director of Tree Organic Technology.

Grant has an extensive strategic marketing background including holding the roles of Strategic Director of McCann Erickson, and Managing Director of Red Nail Leo Burnett.

His own health journey has been inspired by e-Patient Dave's philosophy of being an empowered patient and he is set to become Australia's leading advocate for such. A passionate speaker and facilitator, Grant is on a mission to empower Australian Healthcare Consumers.

His message is clear: be equipped, empowered and engaged in your health care journey. It is about participation and partnership with your medical team.

Grant’s life was saved by his wife when she was diagnosed with Colorectal cancer and insisted that he be fully tested to ensure that he was healthy to take care of their two teenage daughters. These tests included an endoscopy that showed a small ulcer in the gastro esophageal junction. The biopsy surprisingly came back positive for , a rare and aggressive form of cancer that has a survival rate below 10% because it is mostly diagnosed too late. This was the beginning of what has been both a fascinating and inspiring journey.

He read Dave’s book – Let Patient’s Help! during a very dark window in his life and it changed his perspective.  I started to think about my engagement with the health system in a completely different way. As he says: “I knew could be in the drivers seat and I had still choices. That was empowering”

 “At this point I believed that I could play an active role in my recovery or I could passively go through a process that might, or might not save my life” says Grant.

And a active role it was which included research, meeting with multiple specialists, consulting with patients who had themselves survived the journey to gain an understanding of what to expect (which was invaluable for post operative care), and inspecting surgical wards and ICU facilities to ensure that the correct hospital with the best level of care and facilities were in place and there would be minimal disorientation post surgery.”

The two other key factors in being empowered was ownership of records which allowed for the seeking of a second opinion, and understanding that it is the patients right to seek a second opinion. Few patients understand that they own all medical records on them -not all medical practices are comfortable with this and there are such varying systems of how patient records are held, that this in itself is a challenge.

Secondly, many people talk of a second opinion, but few pursue them out of fear, guilt or ignorance. In Grants case, after not feeling entirely comfortable with his initial surgeon, and with the help of a few medical specialists, they created a shortlist of other potential surgeons. He set about interviewing them and it came down to two, and understanding that the success of his particular surgery was based on the least postoperative complications. Grant chose Dr Charbel Sandroussi.

Now working with his new surgeon he began training for his surgery (both physically and mentally), adjusting diet to ensure that all other organs including the heart and liver were optimized to deliver the best outcome.

On the 10TH 2013 of May Grant Baker underwent one of the most invasive surgery techniques known, the Ivor Lewis two-stage oesophago-gastrectomy, which included removing 10cm of the oesophagus and much of the stomach. It is one of the top three invasive surgeries performed today along with Heart Transplants and Live Transplants.

For this father of two, his journey not only focuses on his health but also the demanding financial requirements of providing for his family as the primary household earner during a very difficult time.

And so the story begins;

Grants 10 tips to being an empowered healthcare consumer

1.     The human mind is the most powerful organ in the body. Your attitude is the single biggest impact that you can have on your recovery. Attitude is everything, even when you don’t feel that great.

2.     Research, research, research. Empower yourself with information, understand what is happening with your body, and what it is you will go through. Research what your options are. When you find something that you think is special or relevant to a better diagnosis, share it with your medical team, they will listen and ask lots of questions.

3.     Research is not just about finding definitions on the internet (which in itself can be scary and varied), speak to past patients, speak to patient organizations, speak to other doctors, care givers and join patient forums.

4.     For convenience ask your health care team if you can make appointments with them via new online tools such appointment booking services.

5.     Do not just focus on the disease or the surgery, get to understand pain management tools, techniques to assist you prior to surgery, and gain a strong understanding of what you will require post operative recovery. This is often where the biggest surprises are.

6.     Ask about the medication you will be required to take, possible side affects and if relevant other options available to you. Remember knowledge is power.

7.     Own your records. They are yours, and if you ever need a second opinion or move, they are invaluable and will save a fortune in not having to redo the same tests for different doctors. Check that you have all data and where relevant that it is accurate.

8.     Don’t be scared or apologise to ask questions of anyone. Be this your doctor, a technician, a nursing sister.  You are the patient and it is your right.

9.     Work with your doctor to support your recovery. Discuss with him what you can do to prepare for a procedure and what you can do post. This can take many forms including exercise, diet and planning.

10.    Get to know your medical team. All of them. They are human too. By knowing them better in a professional manner, you will feel more comfortable to communicate, and they will build an understanding of what your preferences are.

 Be comfortable with your surgeon. If you are not get a second opinion. This is not to question the initial surgeons ability, but you must have a positive relationship if you are going to trust him to manage your care.

 Never never never give up. Its your life to live.

Labels: , , ,

June 02, 2013

The Rise Of Patient Health Communities On Twitter

Web 2.0 and health 2.0 are converging to become one of the most powerful shifts in health and human behavior in the last generation.  At its heart is the fact that patients are people, and that people are social.  They want to know their healthcare professional, and want to both seek the opinions of others and share their own opinions.  In this context patients are rightfully taking ownership of their healthcare decisions via actively seeking information and options on the web. 
If you doubt the power of social media to influence health communities then this visualisation may just very well change your mind and cause you to say we need to be more proactive in 2013. It certainly was what inspired me to champion the participatory medicine movement here in Australia and next year we will host the first Blogging Conference known as Healthivate specifically for these growing online communities and bloggers. There are a limited number of industry tickets available if you would like to network with these powerful groups. (Conference Hashtag is #hivate)

But for now let's discuss how health conversations are occurring on Twitter. For over 2 years, Symplur has collected health conversations on Twitter. From a humble start, their infrastructure has grown and matured to scale with the tremendous growth of healthcare social media. They are now approaching 150 million health tweets in our database which they analyze and categorize by thousands of variables. And similarly with other repositories of big data, their greatest challenge is to figure out how to present insights from such a vast dataset in a meaningful way. The answer is often found in visualizations.
What you see in the video below is a 22-month timeline of about 2,000 different health communities and topics each visualized as a bubble. In total, about 100 million healthcare tweets are represented in this visual. The green dots symbolize patient-centric topics, while pink encompasses more professional/provider topics. Larger bubbles signify larger volume of conversations within that community. The data is visualized dynamically over the this 22-month time period starting September 2010.

Labels: ,