Kathie Melocco - Health Activism

Blog dedicated to Social Justice and Health and Wellbeing Activism

March 24, 2013

Bloggers Beware of Brands Using You To Health Wash #KFCKidsMeals

My friend, influential mum blogger Jessica Gottlieb alerted twittverse to this breaking cyber backlash yesterday. You may recall Jessica shared an excellent case study with us all at Healthivate about the #motrinmoms fiasco by J& J.

Brands who try to play in the health space must be careful not to misrepresent their facts. It doesn't matter if you are KFC, a tube of toothpaste or a startup, the issues are all the same. Using bloggers children to push your message is just wrong!

If you missed Jessica's story, here's a recap:

KFC Uses Blogger’s Kids to Promote Healthy Kids Meals #KFCKidsMeals

KFC Healthy kids meals

Bloggers have a number of intangible assets but arguably the most valuable of all is their integrity. Much like virginity you get to lose your integrity just once. Today some bloggers are flirting with a loss of integrity after promoting the #KFCKidsMeals hashtag and trying to convince their audiences that KFC has healthy meals for kids.

Of course twitter is too smart for the faux low calorie message.

And a robust discussion ensued. You can view the full story from Jessica here.

Marketers want the mum bloggers at their events to be their advocates because the mum bloggers are smart, savvy and influential. Marketers are going to have to wake up and remember that they’re dealing with a smart, savvy and influential community. 

And for bloggers don't be persuaded into thinking just because a brand has approached you for a sponsored post or to help them their motives are anything other than on the end game - MONEY! Do your own homework, you are not a marketer, but check out whatever you are asked to represent, go for a wander on their website, does the promise match the product or is it health washing. Look behind the story, who stands to gain?

Bloggers use your voice wisely and say NO to your children being used as a brand's mouthpiece or photographed representing a product you haven't thoroughly checked out.

About Jessica Gottlieb
One of the World’s Most Influential ‘Mummy Bloggers’ with one million page views per month. She has traveled with Oprah Winfrey, met with President Clinton and appeared on CNN, CBS, Fox News, Dr. Phil, Wendy Williams and more while talking about the intersection of parenting, health and technology.

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March 22, 2013

e-Patient Dave Launches New Book - Let Patients Help!

e-Patient Dave is coming to Australia in late June for a speaking tour. I was thrilled to receive a copy from Dave of his new book. I plan on writing a couple of posts relevant to Dave's book over the coming days. Here's a peak however as to what is included:
Let Patients Help!

A patient engagement handbook -
how doctors, nurses, patients and caregivers
can partner for better care.
It’s concise – less than 100 pages – because as Dave says: He wants people to READ IT!  
You can buy it here, on CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing site:
(CreateSpace requires creating a free account. It’ll be on Amazon in a while.)
It’s a book of lists:
  • Part 1: Ten Fundamental Truths
  • Part 2: Ten Ways to Let Patients Help
  • Part 3: Tip Sheets
As the subtitle suggests, this book is about partnership between patients and professionals. It tells why it’s valid and important for medicine to listen to patients, with specific how-to’s on making it a reality. A patient engagement handbook.
In keeping with that spirit, has some great medicos contributing:
“With Dr. Danny Sands”
Dave's famous primary physician, Dr. Danny Sands, is not only on the cover, he’s in the pages: he wrote some of them. In part 3 (the tip sheets) he wrote:
  • Ten Things Clinicians Say That Encourage Patient Engagement
  • Ten Things Clinicians Say (or do) That Discourage Patient Engagement
  • For Patients: Collaborating Effectively with Your Clinicians
  • Dr. Danny Sands’ Rules for Smart Web Use
Regular readers will know that Dr. Sands has been a pioneer of patient engagement since the 1990s. Way back then he…
  • co-created the first medical record system and patient portal at our hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess
  • co-authored the first published guidelines on how to do doctor-patient email successfully
  • became a friend and colleague of “Doc Tom” Ferguson, founder of the e-patient movement.
Introduction by Eric J. Topol, M.D.
 AND the amazing Eric Topol wrote the introduction. Read full text of the introduction here. If you don’t know Dr. Topol’s name, here are a few glimpses:
NOTE: Dave will be speaking at events in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra during his visit. If you would like Dave to speak to your organisation please contact me for further details and sponsorship opportunities.

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Should HealthCare Be More Like The Airline Industry?

This great article  discusses how there will be pain associated with transforming healthcare as we move towards a more participatory style of medicine and it is going to require dramatic and gut wrenching changes. 

It compares the dramatic cost cutting of the airline industry to healthcare. At first I thought not, but the proposition is an interesting comparison. 

"It's the fact that U.S. commercial airlines carried 52% more people in 2010 than they did in 1995, and yet they employed 2% fewer people. It's that airlines did away with unprofitable luxuries such as meals in coach and filled excess flight capacity. It's that airlines shed lots of jobs at front counters and reservation call centers and replaced them with kiosks and online bookings."

Think other sectors such as banks' use of ATMs to let customers do self service, and to retailers such as Amazon.com and Wal-Mart using analytics to acquire a better understanding of their customers and their own operations.

Think what has happened to retailers who avoided online strategies....

The big number is this: Healthcare must be cheaper. That's not going to happen without pain and radical change. And that is the core message. Technology is an enabler, it helps increase efficiencies in costs and productivity.

In Australia, where healthcare professionals are still largely resistant and slow to adopt such simple technologies as online health appointment booking services despite clear evidence that consumers want greater convenience in accessing health appointments.

It's going to take changes in how health care practitioners do business.

In health, consumers should be a participating partner.

In fact much of e-Patient Dave's message when he visits Australia in late June this year will be exactly about these very developments and the need for health care practitioners and consumers to work in partnership together. He advocates loudly 'Let Patients Help! and Give Me My Damn Data!

A number of startups in this area are working hard to enrol and engage with health professionals in what is evident to all will eventually be the way of the future. 

So let's take it to the next step. Imagine if there was a health kiosk available in consumer friendly locations where you could check in during flu season or more.

Well it now exists - welcome to the brave new world converging on medicine - data, technology and human genomics.

Welcome to HealthSpot!


Bloggers - An Army Of Brand Advocates Or Not?

I guess I am known for being an over the horizon thinker. It's just what I do, quickly identify how to get a brand known, discussed and build a story that cascades throughout communities, changing the conversation. And it can happen quickly after a considered period of what I call environmental analysis. There is always a methodology to good story telling. 

Some brands 'get it quickly' others fall into the trap of dead brand walking,  thinking old world marketing styles will work in the digital era, where conversations are happening online and offline. 

Eventually these laggard marketers wake up and realise that the digital influencer and blogger can harness an army of brand advocates if they learn how to listen, engage and build the conversation. Traditional media and indeed traditional PR cannot build a conversation as fast as empowering digital conversations. 

At present, I am watching with interest one brand's leadership who was initially disruptive to their own marketing efforts prudent focus on an integrative digital path, suddenly see the light - oh how that makes me quietly smile!

However there are lessons to be had for all who are beginning to engage with bloggers and digital influencers. Understand that the blogger's real role: is to share opinion, not provide balanced reporting. 

We need to set aside that mindset and realize that writing a blog is not about interviewing sources, getting the facts, summarizing findings, and then writing a fair and balanced article. It's about a blogger sharing his or her opinion with the world. 

Fact checking should apply but there are countless examples of where it does not apply. Although the blog may not be objective, it may be widely read and accepted as fact. Companies must be aware that a disgruntled blogger can quickly do damage to their reputations. My advice to brands who have a disgruntled blogger aiming at them is to find a way to resolve matters. You may have to eat humble pie but in the long run the benefits that come from diffusing a situation that is simmering under the surface will only build your esteem as a brand champion.

As blogging becomes more common, it has an increasing impact on traditional journalism. News is shared more quickly and more widely than ever before. It will be interesting to see how the relationship between blogging and journalism continues to evolve. I will have more to say on a new development in this area on Monday.

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March 19, 2013

Telemedicine - It's A No Brainer!

I've written before about the need for health care practitioners to rapidly embrace the internet in marketing their practice. Telemedicine offers huge benefits to the consumer, from the convenience of online appointment bookings to patient communities and even as an evaluation tool of our health care system with sites such as patient opinion.

In Australia, we have a range of new services all adding huge value to the consumer and indeed providing additional productivity tools for the practitioner.

Over the coming days I will be posting about how 'cascading the story' with great content can enhance these services and create stickiness. But for now here's a great explainer video that crossed my desk thanks to e-Patient Dave. I thought you might enjoy it, the messaging is simple and as consumers we get the point quickly.

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March 18, 2013

Regina Holliday and Health Activism - The Walking Gallery

Regina Holliday is a Washington, D.C., art teacher, artist, muralist, patient rights arts advocate, founder of the Walking Gallery and the Medical Advocacy Mural Project. On March 27, 2009, her husband, Fred Holliday II, was diagnosed with metastatic kidney cancer, after months of escalating pain medication prescribed for symptom relief, without a diagnosis of the cause of the pain. Fred died on June 17, 2009. Holliday's response to the shock and anguish of losing her 39-year-old husband (and to her husband's urging on his deathbed) was to become an arts advocate for all patients' rights to their own medical data.

During his final hospitalization, Holliday asked to see her husband's medical records, so that she could do online research of his condition and care, and so that they could make informed decisions together. At the first of five hospitals he was admitted to during this medical ordeal, on April 18, 2009, she was told that copies of his records would cost $.73 per page and would be available after a 21-day wait. That would have been May 9, 2009.

Fred Holliday II died at home on June 17, 2009. In Holliday's words, her husband's final message inspired her advocacy: "He's got a paper in his hand. It says: 'Go After Them Regina, Love Fred.'

 On her blog on Sunday August 9, 2009, she wrote: "I am painting because it is the best way I know that can make a difference. I will paint our sorrow on a wall for all to see. It is hard to look away. It makes you think. It makes you question. The scariest thing to the status-quo is an electorate that is thinking and asking questions. I am as grassroots as it comes. There is just me on a 20 foot ladder donated by my church. I am using paint brushes I have had for 17 years. I am applying acrylic paint (paid for by donations of friends and strangers) on a wall donated by a gas station."
The Walking Gallery from Eidolon Films on Vimeo.

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March 17, 2013

Health Activist Blogger Mentor Program

I am busy reviewing a number of health activist profiles who are shortlisted to join my mentor programme. Only four will be selected initially and I will work with them over the coming months to tell their story and to match with appropriate organisations and brands as brand ambassadors in the health and wellbeing sector. They will attend conferences on blogger passes, speak at events (stay tuned for an exciting announcement) and become involved in leading public health promotions campaigns.

Health Activists share a number of commonalities:
They want to be listened to. 
They want actions taken based on what they say. 
They want respect
They want emotional and financial support. (I discuss this more fully below and the need for disclosures and appropriate brand distance).
They want recognition for what they are already doing in their communities and want help

In so reviewing, I've become concerned by the number of bloggers who have really powerful stories to personally tell yet have simply given themselves away to brands. Sadly, some even appear to act just as a mouthpiece or be on the payroll for the organisation who supports them. 

My views are not necessarily directed at bloggers but rather at brands. Simply put, they should know better than to build brand associations with bloggers without the appropriate respect and guidelines necessary to protect the authenticity of the bloggers voice. Posts written just as  flowery endorsements of a brand achieve nothing except to turn readers off.

So how do brands in the health space work with bloggers to create behavioural change? Brands must recognise that bloggers and their unique stories can only help them when they are being true to their own voice and sometimes this will require simply stating that they are supported by the brand. Lavishing logos on each post about the brand is counter productive to what each is trying to achieve.

It starts with education about your organisation, agreed disclosures and transparency in the way you work with a blogger.

Why? Each Health Activist has a unique story, most start his or her journey with self-education, empowerment, and understanding about a specific health condition. Being seen to have an appropriate distance between brand and blogger is an important part of the authenticity of health activism.

Health Activists talk about health and health related issues 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. 

Through personal experience and by eagerly pursuing knowledge of certain conditions, health activists stand out from the pack of online health users. By collecting that information and sharing that knowledge, they truly become leaders and that has a powerful value proposition.

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. 

All Health Activists are: a voice for their condition, devoted to their health communities, and quality leaders. All Health Activists are also doing life, sharing the things that we all enjoy!

Footnote: If you would like to join my story coaching programme the link is here.

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March 16, 2013

e-Patient Dave Explains What An e-Patient Is!

What does it mean to be an e-Patient in this information age--empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled?

Did you know?
Emerging e-patient activities: 
47% of adults have used the internet to get information about doctors or other health professionals 
41% have read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group or blog 
38% have gotten information about hospitals 
33% have gotten information about how to lose or control their weight 
27% have gotten information about health insurance 
24% have consulted rankings or reviews online of hospitals 
12% have gotten information about how to stay healthy on an overseas trip 
24% have consulted rankings or reviews of doctors 
19% have signed up to receive updates about health or medical issues 
13% have listened to a podcast about health or medical issues 
5% have reviewed a doctor 
4% have reviewed a hospital 
* Data extracted from the Pew Internet and Life Project Report

As advances in technology and the internet bring us closer to information and each other, a new world of Participatory Medicine is evolving in which networked patients are shifting from mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health.

e-Patient Dave is perhaps the world's foremost advocate for e-Patients is coming to Australia in late June for a lecture tour. “e-patient Dave” deBronkart discusses how technology is creating this new dynamic in how information is delivered, accessed and used by patients.

Technology--from personal health records, patient portals and home monitoring devices to email and social networking sites can help you make better decisions about your health and health care.

And there are lessons here for providers too - everything from health insurance providers to online appointment booking services. Patients want access to information to help them make informed decisions involving their own health. One such organisation who is doing a great job here in Australia in connecting patients and health care providers via expert Q & A's, providing the very access Dave deBronkart talks about  is Healthshare, another is Patient Opinion. In the case of Patient Opinion they believe that feedback, both good and bad from consumers using the health care system  is essential to improving health services.

When Dave deBronkart learned he had a rare and terminal cancer, he turned to a group of fellow patients online -- and found the medical treatment that saved his life. After beating this unbeatable disease Dave became a blogger, keynote speaker and health policy advisor.

Now he calls on all patients to talk with one another, know their own health data, and make health care better one e-Patient at a time.

 “What are my odds of having ever run in to anybody else who had kidney cancer? Very, very slight, and yet I got connected with this expert community on ACOR.org, and I got superb advice not just on treatment options, but on how to deal with the side effects,” recalls deBronkart.

“Today my oncologist says there’s no question the interleukin saved me and killed my tumors, but he said, ‘You were really sick and I’m not sure you could have tolerated enough to do the job if you hadn’t been so informed about the side effects so you were prepared to see it through."

 “I don’t say that anybody should be like me. I do say that when somebody wants to get actively involved, we should give them all the information and tools and resources and advocates that we can. My appeal is not the medical establishment is corrupt or this is all a bunch of bologna. My appeal is let patients help.”

 We’re at a really important turning point, because traditionally the medical field has lagged way beyond many other industries in terms of adoption of technology, and that is changing through a set of incentives for doctors and hospitals to adopt technology and to use it in ways that really improve care.

 “For the first time electronically many patients can get direct access to their own health record that previously would only live in an old-fashioned manila folder in a file cabinet in your doctor’s office.

And increasingly now, you can get that information online and ideally, too, you can take it and you can plug it in to other kinds of apps and tools, even things on your smart phone, to use it in ways that are creative and that help you meet your own health goals.

 It really is augmenting and building on the kinds of relationships that we already have with our health providers, and making that partnership a lot stronger.

Note: if you would like e-Patient Dave to talk to your organisation please contact me directly to ascertain availability.

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March 06, 2013

Bupa launches first Australian Health Influencer Blog Awards At Healthivate

At Healthivate last weekend leading healthcare group Bupa launched a search for the country’s most inspiring health blogs with the inaugural Bupa Health Influencer Blog Awards. Bupa was one of our sponsors and did a great job of putting together a fun video to share with bloggers to convey the essence of the awards. Here's a peak:

The awards, encourage bloggers and their readers to nominate uplifting blogs in one of six categories: healthy lifestyle, health eating, family time, positive life change, personal development/self care, and social good.

The awards will run for three months, until 30 May, and are both self and peer nominated. 

Disclosure: Bupa has invited me to join the judging panel as a result of Healthivate. Other Judges include: body+soul editor Gemma Sutherland; Bupa chief medical officer Dr Paul Bates; and Bupa health ambassador and Olympic swimmer Matt Welsh.

Winners of each category will receive an Apple iPad and the opportunity for their blogs to be highlighted in Bupa’s Shine magazine, which is distributed to millions of Bupa members.  This exposure is sure to be a winner for bloggers entering the awards who will be keen to grow their blog audiences as well. One overall winner will also receive $5000 to spend on improving their health, happiness and wellbeing.

Bupa has already established blogosphere credentials: in 2012 it hosted a blogger event in partnership with Lifeline to raise awareness about stress management for Stress Down Day, and has engaged with family bloggers to make small changes for the better as part of the Bupa Family Challenge.
For more information visit www.bupa.com.au/BlogAwards

Note: (We are grateful for the sponsorship support of Macro - only available at Woolworths who enabled the event to take place. I'll be writing a couple of posts about the event specifically over the next few days).

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March 03, 2013

Blogger Opinions And The Sponsored Post

It's been quite a weekend. Healthivate seemed to go off well and the speakers were awesome! We laughed together, we cried together, we learnt together, we nanna napped together. It was full on.

So yesterday I felt totally brain dead as you can imagine and just wanted to chill. However given that I was still playing host to US #1 Mum Blogger Jessica Gottlieb before she departed for a little rest and recreation in Byron Bay I took some time to show her a little of Sydney.

As we strolled around to the Opera House forecourt, doing the usual touristy stuff we chatted about sponsored posts. And here's the insight:

In Australia, we have a tendency for brands to want to pre-approve the sponsored post. Agencies act as  a go between blogger and brand negotiating what must be said and not.

And here's the difference, Jessica says brands do ask her if they can pre-approve the sponsored post. Usually they never do. Quite rightly she said they're interested in the links - that's what I always check. The rest should always be my opinion, my voice.

How true. The power of the bloggers authentic voice.


March 02, 2013

Chris Brogan's Personal Message to Mia Stead at Healthivate

We received this amazing video message  from Chris Brogan for Mia Stead to be shared at Healthivate. Unfortunately it arrived too late for the programming but it was such a powerful testimony to Mia Stead's personal story that I thought it worth sharing with you today. But first a little about Mia.

About Mia Stead

She was the preachers daughter, the tall dark beauty, worked under the name @mistressmia, came to the attention of Social Media heavy weight Chris Brogan as a must watch social media rock star and all while suffering from PTSD. The rest is a story of inspiration. Mia returned to her faith, cleaned up her life, began a detox and was reunited with her young daughter. 

Mia Stead blogs about hope, without judgement, not emotional hope but spiritual hope that doesn’t lead to shame but to overcome and to restore.

Mia now works with her Father @Pastor_Paul on the project “A message from your Local Church” an outreach focused on communicating hope to those who need it through traditional broadcasting, publishing and building relationships through social media tools.

She says, "Sometimes the worst thing that happens in your life can become the best thing. The best thing about having a story is that you are alive to tell it.
“My story hasn’t been anything unusual other than the fact I could have been dead more times than I’ve had birthdays and found more dead ends than most. In fact, I became my own worst enemy until I found hope. After ten years of trying to manage the fallout of broken marriage, domestic violence, child custody, PTSD and substance abuse, now with real hope in my heart, I am on a journey to not merely survive but I’m on my way to becoming whole. Spirit, soul and body.
I do what I do now because there isn’t anyone alive that doesn’t need hope. There is always hope."

In 2009 Chris Brogan wrote the following accolade for Mia. At the time that this was written Mia was still to turn her life around and find her peace. Chris says her skills in social media give others a chance to learn. Here is what he said then:

You know who does it right, but who rarely gets the attention? The outliers, the fringe players, the people who don't represent the mainstream. I've got three people who I think are doing wonderful things, but who some of you might not see eye-to-eye with. That's the point, friends. There are many ways to the goal in this game. Here's my list. (Depending on your work policies, these links might not be considered safe for work.)
 Mistress Mia  - She's from Australia, and is showing people what's right by keeping naughty marketers in line. There's so much depth to Mia, and following her perspective is a chance to learn a great deal. "

And here in 2013 is the wonderful personal message Chris Brogan sent to Mia yesterday.

Thank you for sharing your story at Healthivate 2013. It was inspiring!

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