Sunday, January 13, 2008

Health Communications

MiBiz has an article (scroll down to "Advertising: Good for What Ails You") that provides a nice recap of an Alliance for Health Forum on "healthcare marketing."

Of course, problematic in that descriptor and in quotes throughout the article is the annoying confounding of the terms marketing, advertising, and public relations. It's nice that the media cover our industries, but it would be nicer if there were consistent clarity in describing what's what. The article does describe all three, but never clarifies what's what. But, maybe this is just the semantic angst of a professor:)

But to move on for now, I should say the article was an interesting one. Partly because yours truly once interviewed for an turned down a job with Metro Health at a time when their communication philosophy was to fly below radar. My, how times have changed. The article shows how hospitals like Metro, as well as pharmas like Pfizer and insurers like Blue Cross have to be much more intentional in their public communications. All three in this case have sound strategies and interesting creative execution that serve as good examples of what has emerged as a specialty of health communication--there are academic journals dedicated to the subject, and GVSU and other schools offer full majors in health com (we need to hire more faculty to improve our program at GVSU).

The article touches on national trends as they apply in West Michigan: the notion that hospitals aren't all the same and can have brands; the phenomenon and controversy of DTC (direct to consumer) advertising by drug companies; the wholesale change in the insurance industry and the importance of research to be effective with campaigns.

I'd give it a read. Not only is there evidence that the health industry has learned lessons about communications, but as they've put those lessons to work it seems to me they offer some lessons to commuicators in other industries as well.

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