Kathie Melocco - Health Activism

Blog dedicated to Social Justice and Health and Wellbeing Activism

September 29, 2012

Why Childhood Obesity Is A Global Problem

Using info graphics in healthcare to tell the story can be a compelling tool for behavioural shifts and education. In a sector where training embeds facts rather than story, the power of narrative can be an important tool for raising awareness and to shift behaviours. The following info graphic crossed my desk from my good friends at Viva Communications and is a great example of storytelling. It's a compelling argument for us to take notice of an epidemic sweeping the globe - Childhood Obesity. 

Childhood obesity is arguably one of the biggest health crises at the moment. Just in Australia, experts say 42% of people will be obese by 2030. But many people don’t realize this isn’t just a problem in Australia—it’s a problem across the world.Viva with the help of their GLOBALHealthPR team, uncovered that while obesity rates of many nations, both developed and emerging, are quite comparable, the majority of conversation is still happening in the U.S. They listened in to local social media conversations in various corners of the world about childhood obesity, and learned that childhood obesity is a global problem, but it’s not a global conversation. That in itself is alarming and the info graphic offers insights as to what it means for public health teams and communicators. 


September 14, 2012

Do you know your #hcsm target market?

Not getting marketing results the way you originally anticipated? I cannot tell you how often I have worked with intelligent, seasoned professionals in the healthcare industry who tell me their #hcsmanz target market is EVERYONE! Think about what a silly statement that actually is - how can any business reach everyone?

It's neither plausible in the first instance or fiscally achievable. Effective marketing is all about audience segmentation and in the era of social media we are now able to micro segment audiences in ways marketers never dreamed was previously possible. If your healthcare business is stuck where to start in market segmentation the above video is sure to be a thought provoker with you team. Over the coming days I'll be posting tips about marketing to your actual low hanging fruit  target audiences and tools via social media to escalate SEO and your digital footprint to attract those target markets to your product service or #hcsm healthcare clinic.

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September 10, 2012

10 Inspiring Quotes For A healthy Start To The Week

Happy Monday Health Activists. I thought we would start the week with a dose of inspiration. Enjoy.

1. Buddha (c. 563 BC to 483 BC) – a spiritual teacher from ancient India who founded Buddhism
To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.
2. Marcus Valerius Martialis (known in English as Martial) (circa 40 AD – 103 AD) – a Latin poet from Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula) best known for his twelve books of Epigrams
Life is not merely being alive, but being well.
3. Edward Smith-Stanley (1752-1834) – English statesman, three times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness.
4. Paul Dudley White (1886 – 1973) – an American physician and cardiologist
A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.
5. Henry Ward Beecher (1813 – 1887) – a prominent, Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, abolitionist, and speaker
The body is like a piano, and happiness is like music. It is needful to have the instrument in good order.
6. James Leigh Hunt (1784 – 1859) – an English critic, essayist, poet and writer
The groundwork of all happiness is health.
7. Francois Rabelais (c. 1494 – 1553) – a major French Renaissance writer, doctor and Renaissance humanist
Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering.
8. Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) – an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist and author
A healthy body is a guest-chamber for the soul; a sick body is a prison.
9. Persius (34 AD -62 AD) – a Roman poet and satirist of Etruscan origin
You pray for good health and a body that will be strong in old age. Good — but your rich foods block the gods’ answer and tie Jupiter’s hands.
10. Menander (ca. 342–291 BC) – Greek dramatist, the best-known representative of Athenian New Comedy
Health and intellect are the two blessings of life.
What inspires you to live healthy?

September 08, 2012

Doctors will embrace Social Media as KOL's

Key opinion leaders (KOL) are still one of the most important corner stones for the marketing machines of pharmaceutical companies. Their network, expertise, reach and authority is what pharma is interested in. 
What have been the  implications social media has on KOL’ism?
First off  – I am sick of the term “social media so I've even taken the step of renaming it social health on this blog, because that is what it is really about for healthcare, outreaching the health care practice, reaching patient communities, education and more”  
The term Social Media is being used so generically and so often that it doesn’t mean anything anymore. 
I mean take a moment to think about it – the whole internet is social. There isn't a site where you can’t “like” or comment on stuff. That’s the essence of social media and web 2.0. But that’s another story.
Let’s put these linguistic talks aside and get real: social media is here to stay and the day will come when even doctors will embrace it as professional and that is not too far into the future. 

We are now in the throws of a quiet revolution underway in how doctors connect with their patients and with each other online around the globe.

For a long time, many practices have limited their involvement in the digital world to a website.

It provided static, one-way information with no room for interaction. But the question arose: if a practice posted an update on their website, how do they get patients to read it and respond to it?

According to Australian Doctor if results of a recent Australian survey are correct, only 17% of patients read the printed health brochures displayed in waiting rooms, while a staggering 85% of patients look for information online. 

It's fairly obvious from this data that spending money on old world communication is inefficient and a waste of any marketing spend.

Our communities, patients, are online. Why then does the healthcare professional so largely resist change and to be frank the evidential statistics of how health is searched on the net and where their patients are. 

The fact is bricks n mortar walls are coming down. No professional can now operate without innovation and digital outposts for communication. Doubt me? Think of the fax machine, now long obsolete for new and more efficient methods of communication - email and now text, heck Facebook even has it's own email address for you and more. Your practice can actually have your own website on Facebook - check out some of the apps, amazing stuff. Imagine having your practice url address diverted to your Facebook page complete with email, video educationals on disease management, patient education downloads. It's all possible.

With this in mind we are already seeing influential, early adopter doctors recommending training courses in social media for peers, advocating to learn the framework and understand how it can benefit their practice of medicine.  These are the trail blazers, the early adopters.
Only late last week I had a doctor share with me that he uses social media to connect with peers who are early adopters, it helps him keep ahead, for connections and, taps him into patient and health activist communities that benefit his work. Make no mistake - the realm of KOL'ism is blurring with Health Activists becoming just as important as medicos for their leadership of communities. The New KOL in medicine now needs to know how to engage with the leadership of these e- patient activist  communities.

And of course we have the Mayo Clinic Health Network who connect other healthcare professionals around the globe, training them through their social media residency programme how to outreach their clinics, hospitals and more. In so doing - what is the Mayo Clinic achieving? Building itself as an influential KOL and if you like first to the future, showcasing their own cutting edge methodologies. It's all about relationships, engagement and influence as a KOL.

I wrote a post the other day suggesting that while we have developed the most miraculous tools for dealing with the health of humankind but the best tools in the world don't make a bit of difference if they don't get out to where they're needed. And that is the essence of social media. 

Whilst many healthcare practitioners are still stuck the future KOL must understand that. She must be able to interact with social media and interact with strategic peers on a far superior level.  In time it will become a functional skill set that is required of all professions and healthcare is not immune. 

In the past, authority has always been a regional phenomenon, localised, but now there is the opportunity to enter world stage. A future KOL, might not be a local hero, but rather known around the globe. For example, she might host regular google patient education tutorials, the scope is only limited to the imagination. 

I can think of one Australian doctor who has built himself an enviable global reputation for outreaching his practice and connecting, educating and participating in conversations that are vital to public health. Accurate information in a sea of often inaccuracy is to be applauded.

 Social media changes the landscape.

Through social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, the geographic borders vanish. So it has become quite easy to turn into a leading voice in your specific medical field with the help of innovative social media outlets.
The implications of this vary. Pharma will need to work with these global KOLs in the digital ecosphere. A tweet from a KOL can help and harm your brand in an instant. A hint for all in this space - learn to find these KOL's, master Klout.

Think about how pharma will need to embrace social media in order to keep up. They must understand that it’s bidirectional, it’s not the sales pipeline anymore, it’s about transparent communication.

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The Rise of The Health Activist

I am delighted to announce that we have at Kathie Melocco joined WEGO Health Press Corps - for Health Activists. We'll be sharing with you the opportunities to attend and report from health and social media conferences - without paying to get in! Opportunities will also be carried over into our social justice community at The Brave Discussion, where there is a large patient and health activist community as well. 

Attending as press corp enables you to hear new medical developments first hand and update your communities, share your stories and where necessary advocate on issues that you know first hand matter to your own health networks. 

We'll also be offering storytelling workshops for our health activist community, where as leaders you will learn how to use narrative power analysis to build deeper engagement with your communities. 

Joining the WEGO Press Corps is a natural fit for us as we work to build:
1. The largest Blogger Health Activist Network in the Asia Pacific
2: Work with Healthcare Practitioners and Health Organisations developing their digital story, digital embassies and training them in social media.

If you are a Health Activist with a blog that would like to be considered to attend a relevant health conference in Australia please send us an email. 

Our new website with joining details will also be activated soon.

Attending a Health/Medical Conference means that you agree to:

  • Live tweeting, blogging, vlogging, and/or facebooking of the conference, including attending as many sessions as possible and sending out at least 3 tweets per session
  • 3-4 tweets or posts helping us spread the word about the Health Press Corps
  • One recap blog post of the conference for our Health Blog (and your own blog if you have one)
In exchange, we'll provide you with free registration for the conference AND feature your coverage on our own social media networks!

Who are Health Activists?

Health Activists are leaders who work daily to improve the way people talk and think about health. If you are sharing your health story and helping others live better lives – you may already be a Health Activist. Health Activists are passionate about raising awareness for health causes, dedicated to finding the best information about health conditions, and relentless in their commitment to help others. They are also adept at using every tool possible to reach their communities, especially through social media.

It’s important to remember that health activism takes many forms, and there’s no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to raising awareness for your health condition. Whether you’re just starting your exploration into health advocacy or are a seasoned health communicator, there is a place for everyone in the world of health activism.

Maybe you write a blog centered on living with your condition. Maybe you spend time answering others’ questions in a forum. Maybe you love to spread the word about health news through social media. Some Health Activists have started their own online communities, others have fronted their own non-profit organizations, and still more have petitioned, rallied, or raised funds for health charities. Health Activists are as diverse as they are dedicated.

Each Health Activist has a unique story but most start his or her journey with self-education, empowerment, and understanding about a specific health condition. Through personal experience and by eagerly pursuing knowledge of certain conditions, Health Activists first stood out from the pack of online health users. By collecting that information and sharing that knowledge, they truly became leaders.

Health Activists talk about health every day and find genuine pleasure in offering support and advice to others online. They answer questions, offer resources, and help bring the sense of empowerment they have found in their own lives outward to others. Health Activists work in different spaces, both online and offline. Some Health Activists are content creators, bloggers, or lead forums, while others hold Twitter chats, or record video tutorials. Some Health Activists have started non-profits, support groups, or awareness campaigns. Some Health Activists have enacted legislation, while others have created something buzzworthy through social media. All Health Activists are: a voice for their condition, devoted to their health communities, and quality leaders. 

Now what?

You are already doing what Health Activists do best: sharing your stories and inspiring and empowering others. Continue doing what you're doing, and gain the support of other Health Activists by banding together, across conditions, in online and offline communities. Don't be afraid to embrace being a Health Activist – the change you are making improves the lives of many; patients and healthcare providers alike benefit from your work. Wear your Health Activist title proudly and continue to inspire others! 

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September 06, 2012

Using technology and innovation to improve access to healthcare

When you're sick, you see the doctor. When you get a medical test it goes to the lab. When you need medicine, you go to the pharmacy. Or not.
In many places in both the developing and developed world, these basic healthcare steps -- getting from point A to point B -- often don't work. And all the healthcare overhaul in the world is not going to matter much if patients can't connect with the services and products they need to stay healthy. We have developed the most miraculous tools for dealing with the health of humankind but the best tools in the world don't make a bit of difference if they don't get out to where they're needed. 

So how do we change the system? By changing and expanding expectations and mind-sets and opening up the opportunity for new ideas. Then we may find that there is a road forward to health care and wellness as a part of normal life, and not just a set of disjointed interventions aimed at treating isolated diseases. 
Some of the problems facing us can be solved technologically. Others depend on novel approaches to the intersection of health policy and real community needs.
Fortunately, some of the most innovative ideas now emerging are tackling these very basic problems. In southern Africa, for example, Riders for Health is addressing what it calls "the tyranny of distance," by putting healthcare workers -- more than 300 of them -- on dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles in seven countries so they can navigate Africa's remote and rugged roads, travel further, reach more isolated villages, and spend longer with their communities. Riders for Health also ensures timely delivery of diagnostic samples and test results for patients with HIV, TB, and other diseases that require close monitoring and treatment.
It's an intrepid approach, but vehicle breakdowns commonly shut down delivery of healthcare services, so Riders for Health provides critical training in maintenance. "We make sure that the vehicles are managed and keep running on a predictable, reliable, and cost effective basis so that people in rural communities don't die of easily preventable and curable diseases simply because they can't be reached," said co-founder Andrea Coleman.
She knows that the most effective solutions can be the simplest ones, but it takes an eye for innovation to see how to make this work. "It's certainly not rocket science," Coleman said. "It's just putting in an appropriate infrastructure where there is no transportation infrastructure."
In India, E HealthPoint is also tackling the problem of reaching remote communities that have no local doctors, applying a low-tech/high-tech approach. Small clinics are set up with a simple water filtration system to provide a clean water supply that draws a lot of foot traffic.
While there, villagers can sit down at a computer and be connected via videoconference with a doctor. Diagnosis can be done promptly and prescriptions can be filled onsite by a staff pharmacist.
"Because people come to pick up their water daily, the E Health Point has multiple opportunities to raise awareness about health issues and encourage early treatment of medical conditions," said CEO Amit Jain. "Tying healthcare delivery to water services also provides social cover for patients with socially-taboo conditions, such as tuberculosis or HIV."
In a world where corporations have the clout and money to deliver their profitable commercial products to just about every nook and cranny of the planet, it is clearly possible to also get medical care anywhere it is needed, even though that doesn't always happen. That incongruity gave innovator Simon Berry the idea forColaLife -- an organization that aims to piggyback on the robust global distribution networks of the Coca Cola company to deliver medicines such as rehydration salts, zinc supplements, and malaria pills.
ColaLife's "AidPods" are packages for medicines that fit neatly into the unused space between soda bottles in packing crates, and can go anywhere that Coke goes-which is pretty much everywhere. "Coca Cola gets to these places because people want Coca Cola," Berry said. "The brand pulls the product into these really remote areas.
"Wouldn't it be absolutely fabulous if we could get that same pull for basic medicines?" The most economically feasible way to get medicines to poor, remote locations is to partner with existing profit makers, Berry argues.
Though piggybacking life saving devices on a product that's not known for it's healthfulness is controversial in some circles, many innovators in development work believe there's a lot to emulate in Coke's success.
"I feel that, if we can understand what makes something like Coca-Cola ubiquitous, we can apply those lessons then for the public good," explained Melinda French Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a TED presentation last year. She pointed to the company's unparalleled marketing, exacting market data analysis, and embrace of local entrepreneurs to carry Coke to the most remote locations -- a feature that inspired ColaLife, too.
"Coke's success is relevant," said Gates, "because if we can analyze it, learn from it, then we can save lives." Many of today's healthcare distribution innovators agree -- and are applying market-based strategies to their work delivering health and prevention products and services.

Many such creative solutions for solving the significant distribution problems for health care have surfaced in a global competition titled Making More Health: Achieving Individual, Family and Community Well-Being, run by Ashoka Changemakers in partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim. 

Making More Health is a global initiative between Boehringer Ingelheim and Ashoka to promote healthy individuals, families and communities by identifying and supporting the most promising solutions to challenging health problems. Making More Health aims to transform the global health landscape.

Disclosure: Full Credit for this post: Ashoka Changemakers blog and Making More Health, a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim.

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