Monday, November 2, 2009

Health Care as a Connection

Differences between Health Care Communication and Commercial Marketing Communciations
Health care is a Connection Deep Metaphor, according to Zaltman and Zaltman (2008, p. 135). Deep metaphors are seven unconscious lenses that “shape what people think, say, hear and do.” They are widely used in marketing and if you understand the deep metaphor(s) for your category, you have powerful advantages. Why a Connection metaphor and what is it?

They say (p. 136) that across all studies of health-care, one facet dominates and that is the consumers relationship or connection with the health care provider. There is corroboration of this in our readings for this week. Chavez (2003, p. 29) says that “Good communication between health care providers and individuals is so important to achieving positive health outcomes” that it is a primary objective in the National Institute of Health (NIH) healthy people program. NIH is the publisher of the Pink Book.

The implication is clear, although other IMC practices have effect, in health care the importance of influentials is paramount. Gladwell (2002, p. 33) explains how effectively using connectedness can make or break a communications campaign. An essential link in communications is a role he calls Mavens. Mavens connect people with information. Health care providers are mavens.

Another difference between health care communications and “standard” IMC is privacy concerns. Duncan (2005, p. 259) observes that medical information is personal and subject to greater privacy protections. Chavez (p. 208) informs us that health communications often involves unpleasant information, and this needs greater testing to get right.

What’s the Same?
Well, we still go through the communications process. Chavez (2002, pp 11-13) describes a health communication process that is familiar: Define goals; Describe audience; Create effective messages by understanding the channel, identifying credible sources, test; Measure.
Hernandez (2009, p. 2) notes that health communication campaigns use marketing and communication strategies. Such might include:

  • Advertising
  • Public relations
  • Events andSponsorships
  • Promotional materials
  • Branding
  • Product placement

He goes on to say (p. 12) that the strategic process for health communication campaign, is similar to “designing a marketing campaign in non-health areas.” He lists a series of questions (p. 18) that we ask in other IMC areas also:

  • What’s the significance of the opportunity or problem
  • How does the problem impact people
  • Are certain segments more feasible or susceptible
  • What causes the problem or opportunity
  • How can the issue be resolved

Chavez, C. (1/9/2003) Making Health Communication Programs Work, aka Pink Book. Retrieved on October 27, 2009 from WVU IMC 621 Week One Readings.

Duncan, T (2005). Prinicples of Advertising & IMC. McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Gladwell, M (2002). The Tipping Point. Back Bay Books.

Hernandez, N (2009). Lesson 1: The Field of Health Communication and Marketing. Retrieved on October 27, 2009 from WVU IMC 621.

Zaltman, G and L Zaltman (2008). Marketing Metaphoria. Harvard Business Press.

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