Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Health Engagement and Social Marketing

This morning I discovered The Health Engagement Blog whose motto is "Advancing health relationships, marketing and communications" and brought online by Edelman which is a big player in corporate public relations and communications.  This is what they are about:
Welcome to our blog. Our aim is to foster conversation about the increasing importance of Health Engagement and explore its implications and imperatives for communicators. We believe that for companies, brands, and organizations in health to succeed, they must develop an intimate understanding of stakeholders and the issues that matter to them, communicate and converse with them through the channels they use, and build their trust through authenticity and shared purpose. This is Health Engagement.

Each of the voices on this blog has his or her own point of view about Health Engagement, based on professional background and experience, research, and personal relationships – but none of us has all the answers. Here are some questions we invite you to join us in exploring: How do you see the public's preferences for engagement with companies and brands changing? From your perspective, what are the emerging health issues of top concern? How well are health companies, brands and organizations trusted? What influences this?

We encourage you to shape and deepen the dialogue by sharing your experiences and viewpoints on the highly personal, fundamental issue of health. We look forward to exchanging ideas. 
From The Health Engagement Blog, I perused their blogroll and discovered the following (only excerpts provided below):

Harnessing the power of information democratization requires us to identify the challenges and find appropriate solutions.
  • “Availability” does not necessarily equate with “access.” Just because the information I need exists somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean that I can find it. Navigation to information targeted to the appropriate moment in care is critically important. We need to translate widespread availability of information into true, ubiquitous, and timely access - something that’s feasible by linking data sources with high-quality health content.
  • “Data” is not the same as “information,” which is different from “knowledge,” which is not equal to “behavior.” In order to go up the chain from data all the way to the behavior change needed for positive health outcomes, we need to connect accessible data with science—such as evidence-based medicine, decision sciences, predictive modeling, and behavior change science.
  • For some people, the free access to information has led to a diagnosis of “information overdose” and a high signal-to-noise ratio. The appropriate Ix (or information therapy) means finding the right dose, frequency, and duration of information to proactively deliver, prescribe, or make available. We can do that by thinking creatively about how to target, tailor and contextualize health information for consumers’ individual learning styles, education levels, values, and preferences.
We can accomplish these three things by 2020 if we: develop clear definitions of what constitutes achievement of them; establish measurable objectives for what should be done; and align incentives to reward clinicians, systems, consumers, and others for achieving them. Those steps will allow us to create real improvement in health care delivery by translating information democratization into effective communication.

Health Communication and Informatics in Health People 2020 from On Social Marketing and Social Change Blog
In thinking about how health communication and informatics can inform the development and achievement of Healthy People 2020 goals and objectives, here are some illustrative examples drawn from progress in these fields over the past decade:
  • Power of distributed networks for gathering, sharing, merging, mining and reporting health data
  • Explosion in consumer-centric health communication strategies such as social marketing and advances in social media
  • Rise and popularity of digital communities based on shared interests (social network sites)
  • Advances in evidence-based health communication, marketing, and health literacy practices
  • Advances in culturally-sensitive health communication
  • Expansion of entertainment education
  • Lessons learned from responding to public health crises
Healthy People 2020 can not only benefit from our work in these areas, but should also serve as a catalyst for their widespread use in addressing disease prevention and health promotion objectives across the board. One of the most important areas where HP2020 might focus is to promote the use of health communication and informatics interventions that are evidence-based, collaborative in nature, strategically designed, appropriate for the intended audiences, adaptive to changing situations, and consistent and reinforcing across multiple messages and channels. 

Healthy People should also support the adoption and expansion of health informatics across public health practice. In particular, HP2020 objectives can address electronic health records that collect, store and manage information; interoperable health information technologies; electronic patient management tools; population health technologies and interventions; tools to exchange data and support community care; disease surveillance technologies; telehealth systems to monitor and deliver remote care; patient/provider decision support tools; and health administration support tools.

And while the past decade has seen the emergence of a number of centers for health communication and informatics research across the country, the needs are far greater than the resources allocated to them so far. We need to continue to expand our knowledge base and test new strategies, models and tools. We then must translate and disseminate this knowledge and experience through relevant health information and best practices intended for at-risk audiences and other priority groups. Some of the priority research needs HP2020 should highlight include:
  • Collaboration in health care and health promotion
  • Informed and cooperative decision-making
  • Understanding and responding to health risks
  • Comforting communication and providing social support
  • Media influences on lifestyles and norms
  • Influences of technologies on health behavior
  • Customized media/messages and behavior
If we incorporate health communication and informatics into HP2020 in ways such as I have outlined, we can offer much to improve the health of our nation. The challenge for our field will be living up to our promise.

Interesting stuff, especially since I'll be talking about this very thing strictly from a personal (non-professional) perspective tomorrow morning.  But the possibility of becoming a consultant or something is still always there.  Thinking, thinking........

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