May 30, 2011
The Wall Street Journal has reported on a new study that finds mixed results for physicians who adopted e-prescribing systems.
On the positive side, the physicians immediately reduced the use of abbreviations that tend to cause patient harm (i.e. can be easily misinterpreted). On the negative side, but rates of other errors, such as mistakes in directions and frequency, were higher at 12 weeks than before the new system was implemented.
According to the Rainu Kaushal, an author of the study and chief of the division of quality and medical informatics at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College, “It speaks to the fact that transitioning is very, very hard.”
For the study, researchers followed 17 physicians at an outpatient clinic as it switched to a newer EMR system, tracking prescription orders before the switch, 12 weeks and one year after implementation. Overall, prescribing errors, not all of which necessarily threatened patient safety, went down 35.7 errors per 100 prescriptions at baseline to 21.1 at 12 weeks and 12.2 a year out.
Although the Wall Street Journal did not specifically report on what abbreviations cause the most errors, I found a separate article from a medical journal that reported that one of the most common mistakes involves the use of “q.d.” (every day). When written in cursive, the loop of the “q” can cause the notation to read as “q.i.d.” (four times daily), or even “q.o.d.” (every other day).
Instead, physicians are asked to write out the directions “daily” and “every other day” instead of risking misinterpretations with abbreviations.
May 25, 2011
One comment I recently heard in a new business meeting was “Do we still need to put our news releases? Can’t we just do this (PR) with social media?”
The short answer is no, any company planning to market a healthcare product or service definitely needs to write and distribute news releases on a regular basis.
BusinessWire recently released a survey of 228 PR consultants. Of those surveyed, 66% said news releases played a “significant” role in their branding efforts, while 25% said they play a “minor” role.
There is a real art to writing an effective news release. You need a news hook, an explanatory (or tie-back) paragraph and a quote from the company or a customer. Your headline should contain key words and you should have the proper amount of links in your body text.
A well-written, effectively distributed press release will get picked up by dozens of key media outlets and will soon show up in the top 10 of Google listings. If you’ve done your job well, it will make Google News, which means it will get fed out to tens of thousands of subscribers.
The discipline of writing a news release also forces the PR consultant ant the client to focus on the branding messages or positioning statements. What are your key messages? Does this news release contain one or more of those messages?
As a respondent to the BusinessWire survey noted, “Brand positioning should play a major role not only in press releases, but also in any piece of info or PR writing coming out of the organization.”
The news release continues to serve multiple purposes and remains a primary tool in any marketer’s toolkit.
May 16, 2011
I have been doing some work for a major cardiac research center recently and it is truly amazing the advances that have been made in recent years in both imaging and surgical techniques. To cite just one example, major aortic aneurysms that once would have been inoperable can now be treated with stent grafts inserted with cardiac catheters. Many elderly people and patients with co-morbidities cannot endure open chest surgery, but can now be treated with endovascular surgery.
The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article today on a patient who suffered sudden cardiac arrest, went 96 minutes (an hour and half) without a heartbeat and survived.
As the article notes, “Some 300,000 Americans suffer sudden cardiac arrest each year, and fewer than 10% survive long enough to leave the hospital.”
“The American Heart Association recently revised its guidelines for first responders, with particular emphasis on initiating hard, rapid chest compressions to keep the stricken victim’s blood circulating. Rescue squads increasingly are chilling victims of cardiac arrest with ice packs and other cooling approaches, a technique known as hypothermia, in order to protect the brain from injury when blood flow is restored.”
“A person who is down for 10 to 12 minutes without any assistance is almost impossible to revive. For the others a critical factor in their prospects is whether someone saw them collapse, called 911 and began effective CPR.”
The Journal article describes the amazing journey of a patient who was collapsed from cardiac arrest outside a grocery store in Minnesota four months ago and was attended to at the scene by two volunteer firemen who began CPR.
Ninety minutes later, after rides in an ambulance and a helicopter, he reached the Mayo Clinic. The medical crew had administered 11 shocks with a defibrillator without restoring his heartbeat. Finally, in desperation they gave an additional dose of an anti-arrhythmia drug and one more shock, the 12th. At the 96th minute, soon after the shock was administered, the patient’s pulse returned. He left the hospital and returned home a week later.
May 9, 2011
When I was a newspaper reporter, we had a large poster stapled to the bulletin board in the coffee room that said “Keep It Simple Stupid.” Also, known as the KISS rule, this adage was meant to remind reporters to always explain concepts in newspaper stories and never assume a high level of knowledge among the general public.
This remains true today in healthcare public relations, even when addressing sophisticated audiences such as physicians and hospital executives.
An example of how technology marketers can misread their audiences can be found in the current TV ads Google is running for its Chrome browser.
An article in today’s Technology Review notes that “most people don’t know what a browser is,” many confusing it with a search engine.
“The problem is that the browser is the gateway to the Internet. It’s easy for people to know what they do online—send e-mail, search, whatever. It’s hard for them to pay attention to how they got there.
Even if people figure out what a browser is, it’s hard to get them to care enough about it to be willing to change. The New York Times quotes Harvard professor David B. Yoffie, ‘The problem for both Firefox and Chrome is how are they going to convince customers that they have a significantly better product, worth the hassle of actually going and downloading something that’s new and different.’”
In healthcare technology, we can see the same problem, overestimating the reader’s understanding of the topic, in many news releases about meaningful use. I was recently was made privy to some research that found that a healthy percentage of physicians were not aware of the MU incentives.
What does that mean? For one thing, you should be careful to explain (at least briefly) the program, mention the dollars available.