Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Aural-only Messaging (Radio) and Health Care

Getting the message out on a health care topic when all you have is sound/voice is a challenge. But the success of radio, podcasts, auditory books would argue that there must be value. Beyond convenience (being able to listen when you are in a car or running/exercising) there are clear benefits of constraint that force the messenger to be focused. Thus, it's a great place to start if the goal is to understand how to be effective in conveying a health care message. To start, here are some of the best radio ads and let's look at the excellent work of others who have tracked down such ads and reviewed them (my comments on their blogs follow each)
In my search for health care related messaging that only use sound, branding seems to be most common purpose. I'd like to say "here are some great ads related to health" but mostly I found bad ones. Almost all would benefit from a better understanding of the value of narrative and storytelling. They are often prescriptive and focus too much on telling the listener what to think.

I found many like the Marion Health Care ad which promotes their health care training to potential enrollees. The emotional goal was to make me feel that this is a great place to get training. The call to action is to apply today and they provide a URL The goal is the listener will recognize that this organization provides better training and thus starts a path toward better health care training. I would describe the ad as the usual voice over "we're good" ad which is mostly meaningless other than to repeat the name of the advertiser over and over so that you recognize the name. But other than that there doesn't seem to be much purpose. I don't see it as very effective.

typical political ad [with added text via youtube for clarity] targets voters who are likely conservative/Republican without angering any elderly voter. It has no narrative, no story. The emotional appeal is to target my dislike of big government and draw me toward someone who will get rid of government (healthcare) yet retain medicare [presumably to keep older people happy]. A typical authoritative voice attempts to convince me this name is attached to something useful. Not very easy to understand, enjoyable or entertaining. There is no call to action beyond the implicit, vote for me. But perhaps this is an "informational" ad and thus the author cannot say "vote for me." If the listener has similar values than the potential value of taking action (e.g., voting for him) would be having a smaller government yet keeping Medicare intact.

An 45 second radio ad for Viagra targeting men with impotence includes mostly music lyrics and then a tag line at the end to explain why you are listening to that music. The music is quite emotional and expresses frustration and a sense of loss. The use of music seems innovative until you realize that this is radio. How many people start listening because they think it is song and then get the advertisement which directly connects with the song (versus there being a pause)? The content of the voiceover at the end isn't especially innovative. It ends with "this is the age to take action." Presumably, the action is to talk to your doctor about getting viagra but the ad doesn't say that. One would infer the goal of any action and proposed value is to address the erectile dysfunction problem highlighted in the music.

Hospital promotion such as the Rhode Island Hospital radio ad [version 1] targets people searching for a hospital or health care system. The goal is make me feel that this hospital is state of the art and will take excellent care of me. This version mostly says people come to our hospital for help, we have great resources. Apparently those great resources are the value they provide. It goes on with the theme that we are great with little evidence or emotional impact. There is no call to action. It seems unlikely to get someone to choose this hospital over another since I would assume any hospital would say the same thing.

Rhode Island Hospital radio ad [version 2] also targets people searching for a hospital or health care system. It starts out with a story "People here are enjoying their coffee" and then continues to explain that one person in their system is working hard to promote health for a patient. It's a story, but doesn't really evoke any emotion except for calm inspired by the quiet peaceful music in the background. What is strange is that thinking about a patient somehow translates to "what we have here is amazing" I don't see how the two go together. There is no call to action. It seems unlikely to get someone to choose this hospital over another since I would assume any hospital would say the same thing; though I do think the story makes it more unique and interesting.

And yet another hospital ad for Children's Hospital Los Angeles clearly targets parents. The ad says that the hospital is great and is rated high and has children in a day care center singing ABCD. The call to action is to visit their website... 

Stop the video after the radio ad and see if you agree on the first problem... That reviewer highlights the fact that people paint a picture from an ad and that picture is what they remember. It's a nice way to think about how ads influence us. 

I do think the emotional connection (children singing) is unrelated to an emotional connection to the hospital [making a kid well again presumably]. The specific value provided by this children's hospital vs. another is apparently related to their high ranking. It seems strange to use the singing voices while also highlighting value demonstrated by data (e.g., a higher ranking). It is also unclear why the action is to visit a website; why would you visit a website if your child was sick? Apparently they are building their brand so that when I do need a hospital I think of them.

Health messages delivered via radio as seen with the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare are probably more amenable to stories as in this one. Here a teen is providing thanks for someone referring her to a teen health promotion program aimed at latino teens. The target market is broader and is anyone who might refer a latino teen.. The ad continues to explain the program. The call to action is to call a number or visit a website. Both go by pretty quickly. I doubt folks would remember them without the ability to pause. The value is better health and decision making by latino teens. The reason for pursuing it is related to the thank you from a teen highlighted in the beginning story of the ad.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Getting the Message Out On a Health Care Topic

It's important to get your message out to people. That message can be to
  1. announce a new drug/device, 
  2. promote a health care service, 
  3. reinforce the value of an existing brand or 
  4. change behaviors toward more healthy alternatives. 
In the next few blogs I'm going to look at the challenge of messaging as related to health care. The blogs will be divided by traditional media outlets. For each I have divided them into the term I will use in the blogs and in parenthesis "what they used to be called".
  1. aural-only messaging (radio)
  2. video (television)
  3. news summary (newsprint)
  4. articles (magazines)
  5. pass-by experiences (outdoor advertising) 
A discussion of digital marketing strategy in healthcare will grow from this analysis. So wait for that; it's coming later.

It helps to first start with a clear and concise guide to what makes a good strategy. The Effie Awards provide the following advice from the Jury deciding the best in advertising:
  • Build a clear, simple narrative.
  • Be concise
  • Storytelling is important
  • Make it easy, enjoyable and entertaining
It sounds easy but over the next few blogs we'll see how it is rare to find efforts that combine these elements.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Ray of Hope for Change

Last week we concluded that basically nothing supports destructive innovation in medical education. Factors that inhibit destruction include:
  1. the incessant growth, easy access to money, and confidence that the good times will continue, 
  2. lack of competition, 
  3. comfortable and stable labor market, and 
  4. tight regulation. These factors ensure that “normal science” lives on.
But barriers to entry also inhibit creative destruction. Perhaps Uber/Lyft, Google, and Apple succeeded not because of easy access to money and fear of a downturn, or an unstable labor market and lose regulation. Maybe the key was that the old paradigm was so much less competitive. Anyone who has used Uber/Lyft clearly sees advantage over taxis. Similarly Google bested prior search [and found a way to make money via adWords] and Apple has continued to take good ideas (the GUI created by Xerox Parc) and make them great and vastly better than the competition. All of these companies were free to enter a novel market.

Here at last we have some hope. We are indeed creating new medical schools. And if you look closely they are also trying out new ideas.

So where do we look for creative destruction? New medical schools.

And what should we do? Back off on demands to “standardize” them and ensure they “conform.” Let them innovate. Let them fail. Let them compete for students. Let the employees worry that they may lose their jobs.

If left alone perhaps they will accomplish the creative destruction that medical school education needs to accomplish a paradigm shift.