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Posted on Sep 23, 2013 in Articles

A Plea For Radical Honesty in Healthcare Writing

A Plea For Radical Honesty in Healthcare Writing

  With the move towards content marketing and the increasing demand to do better in search engine rankings, many healthcare website are feeling the pressure to turn into mini medical publishing houses. But what to write about? Lots of sites have some sort of health encyclopedia that they white-label from a company like Krames-Staywell or use with branding attached to get a halo effect from a place like Mayo or Cleveland Clinic. But this stuff just doesn’t have the SEO juice it used to have. And besides, as the popular refrain now goes: We’re not trying to be WebMD. So if we’re not a health encyclopedia, but we want to cover health info for our patients, what are we offering up? How do we move beyond a thinly veiled sales pitch for our own doctors and services? For years, the default answer had been “wellness” content, those wishy-wash articles discussing the benefits of eating more whole grains, wearing sun block or coming in for an annual prostate exam. They...

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Posted on Aug 13, 2013 in Articles

What Healthcare Can Learn from Hip Hop

What Healthcare Can Learn from Hip Hop

We need a fundamental shift in the way we think about healthcare, and I think there is no better person to illustrate my point than the artist Mos Def*. The first track of his classic album “Black on Both Sides” opens with a diatribe about hip hop. He explains that when people ask him what’s going to happen with hip hop (usually with an air of concern in their voice). He tells them: “You know what’s gonna happen with Hip Hop? Whatever’s happening with us… If we doing alright, Hip Hop is gonna be doing alright” The problem Mos is trying to highlight is the danger of the language in this critique. To ask what’s happening to hip hop is to 1) make hip hop a self contained “thing”, 2) to assume no participation in or responsibility for its state, and 3) to grossly oversimplify how this “thing” might be broken (or dead, or sold out, take your pick) and then get locked into language that forces incorrect conclusions....

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Posted on Jul 12, 2013 in Articles

Tips for small space living, in any sized home

Tips for small space living, in any sized home

I have a post up at Offbeat Families, one of my favorite sites for all things parental. Please do check it out and let me know what you think in the comments. http://offbeatfamilies.com/2013/07/living-in-small-space-with-kids  ...

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Posted on Jun 23, 2013 in Articles

Please Stop Saying, “Healthcare is Broken”

Please Stop Saying, “Healthcare is Broken”

Healthcare is broken, as so many people like to say – especially those who believe they have some answer on how to fix it. Unfortunately, I think this phrase in and of itself might be part of the problem. To say that “healthcare is broken” is to employ a metaphor. Well, really you’re employing a huge, imprecise concept along with a metaphor, but let’s stick to just one element for now. We use figurative language in this instance to try and convey something about the state of this massive, multifaceted system – essentially, that it’s not doing what we want it to do. It’s a good impulse. Metaphors and similes are far more than flowery tools for poets. They are some of the fundamental ways humans use language to understand the intangible or complex. By saying that some difficult idea is like this common everyday thing, or operates as though it were some readily understood mechanism, you tie the abstract to the concrete. You pin down the idea to...

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Posted on Jun 10, 2013 in Articles

10 Tips on Hacking the Cathedral of Medicine

10 Tips on Hacking the Cathedral of Medicine

I had the good fortune of attending the first-ever Hacking Medicine conference at MIT. It was there that I first heard someone refer to hospitals as a kind of Cathedral of Medicine – both implying a false sanctity of how and what care is provided within the hallowed halls (i.e., the reverence for physicians in their priestly robes of white lab coats) and a kind of timelessness more indicative of stagnation than some enduring intrinsic value. I don’t disagree with this analogy. However, I was struck by how few of the entrepreneurs and innovators had actually spent time working in hospitals or clinics. As the child of a physician and a nurse, and now as a web developer for a major healthcare system, I’ve spent much of my life around hospitals on both sides of the country. Here are my tips for hacking The Cathedral. 1. Start with Nurses The nurses are the heart of any hospital. They have the inside track on every physician, every problem with facilities,...

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Posted on May 11, 2013 in Articles

A Call for Evidence-Based Marketing

A Call for Evidence-Based Marketing

The next time I’m in a meeting with a physician and he he tells me how he can just go get his teenage son to build him a website, I might just put my own eye out with a dry-erase marker. Healthcare marketing and web teams have a respect  problem. Unfortunately, I think its one of our own creation. We’ve created campaigns at the whim of powerful physicians who want their faces on a billboard, ignored best practices in web design to get that “Letter from the Chairman” on the home page. At best, we’ve been pushovers – not sticking up for what we know to be the right thing and not offering any evidence to back up our claims. At worst, we’re been slackers, letting down the very business we’re supposed to be promoting. We are poor stewards of the marketing dollars we’ve been given if we can’t make a compelling enough case to leadership to overrule ineffectual strategies. No wonder clinicians don’t seem to take what we...

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