Archive for the ‘Social Marketing’ Category

Make health and wellness a resolution that you can keep

20090106-fekgdrqs9hn4117s1w57mmgsgmNew Year’s resolutions are easier said than done. A partnership of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications aims to ease the pressure with Healthy Monday. Healthy Monday will be a weekly series of national health observances on – you guessed it – each Monday of this year designed to deliver evidence-based health campaign to reduce factors related to leading causes of death for Americans: poor diet and inactivity, smoking, and alcohol misuse.

I really like how this campaign has incorporated ways for individuals to take action as well as organizations to coordinate events and meetings. Activities such as the Monday Mile encourage participants to increase physical activity and you can get some support (and incorporate social persuasion to promote adherence) by starting and/or joining a Move It Monday club. My major criticism is that they seemed to have missed an opportunity to include elements of social networking. It would be great even if they had pointed out tools such as Google Calendar, Meetup and others to help groups coordinate better at the community level or encourage individuals not associated with the community to take on the responsibility of starting a group.


Universal Health Care Series: The Inevitability Argument

This post is Part V in a series exploring reasons to support universal health care.

It would be nice if we could wave a bureaucratic magic wand to make problems go away. It would be even nicer if the antidote to the health care crisis was strengthening the freedom of choice that the market affords and if this actually led to greater equality. Unfortunately, freedom and equality are a bit like oil and vinegar; they don’t mix especially well.

I know that I am not old enough to remember Hillary Clinton’s campaign to reform the health care system. But the video below brings back some characters familiar to many of you.

Harry and Louise fought to hold on to the health care system in 1993. Fifteen years later, those same characters lament their short-sightedness. Do we want to be in Harry and Louise’s shoes 15 years from now? The current system is on a collision course for failure; it is just a matter of when.

Growth in health care costs consistently outpace the rate of inflation, yet consumers have little to show for the money spent. Health insurance companies continue to find technicalities and other superficial reasons to deny care to consumers who pay the high premiums. People are being left behind with little or no coverage. God forbid you have a preexisting condition, especially a chronic one. The safety net for children’s health and safety has almost disappeared. With the current administration’s implicit blessing for increased privatization, doctors are dropping off the Medicare rolls. Even supposedly non-for-profit health systems are wolves in sheep’s clothing, often driving up the costs of care.

While individuals fare progressive worse under the private health care system, pharmaceutical companies have never been better. For all the supposed motivation the free market give them to engage in research and development, it appears that plastering their logos from here to Timbuktu is more of a financial priority. When you consider the human cost of these lopsided priorities (high drug costs, overprescription, and decreased medical research in the private sector), you have to wonder why people are fighting so hard to keep privatized health care. Who do you think the consumer will want to clean up the mess?

Interesting Links of the Week – August 24, 2008

Social Marketing Link of the Week

What happens when you pair college students with professional video producers for National HIV Testing Day? The PSI BCC Blog highlights these creative personal PSAs (PPSAs) that reached as far as Tanzania informing people of the importance of knowing your HIV status. Take a look at some of the PPSAs here.

Social Change Link of the Week

The folks at Social Actions have released a game-changing super widget for people who blog about social change. The new widget actively scans your blog and suggests actionable opportunities from over 20 platforms that Social Actions supports. Unfortunately, WordPress will not let me install it, but if you don’t have a WordPress blog, I would highly recommend you adding it to your site.

Videos of the Week

Looking to be socially conscious and the next Steven Spielberg? TrueTube is a video sharing site targeted for people who want to network about social issues through the medium of video. You can upload your own works of art and see videos of established nonprofits as well.

Public Health Link of the Week

The Health Care Blog brings the need for universal health care home with Health Care in the YouTube era. On two separate occasions and in two separate hospitals, someone video recorded a person dying while waiting for medical attention in the emergency room. I can’t bring myself to watch the video, but the comments below the videos really show how much dissatisfaction there is with the American health care system.

Social Entrepreneurship Link of the Week

For those looking for a little insight and inspiration for changemaking, Mentorography features digital diaries of social entrepreneurs.

Universal Health Care Series: The Consumerist Argument

photo courtesy of snappybex

photo courtesy of snappybex

This post is Part IV in a series exploring reasons to support universal health care. You can find the other parts of the series here.

If you have ever tried to closely read your health insurance policy, it is fairly complex and confusing even for the well-educated. The fine print is disadvantageous to consumer knowledge and influence. After all entities such as Consumer Reports, The Consumerist and Ralph Nader exist for a reason; safeguards and information sharing are necessary to protect the consumer from industry sometimes.

That fine print in your policy may bear part of the blame for the estimated 25 million people are underinsured, individuals who have private insurance coverage but still have problems with access to care. Universal health care empowers the consumers not only in increasing access, but also in other ways that allow information decisions about one’s health.

Greater transparency and clarity in policy

Universal coverage favors patients’ rights; a single policy will clearly explain procedures and services. A single policy also mean less general administration and bureaucracy which promotes clearer lines of accountability.

Greater continuity in quality of care

Universal coverage gives consumers more freedom because they do not have to worry about gaps in coverage due to life changes: changing jobs, moving, etc. It also gives consumers who have preexisting conditions the freedom to leave their jobs without fear of not getting coverage with a new insurance company. Universal coverage ends the paradoxical phenomenon of the underinsured. Right now, millions are paying insurance premiums to receive nothing in return in benefits despite on paper having benefits.

Greater incentive for changes in system infrastructure

Implementing universal health coverage has some indirect effects on the infrastructure of the health system over time. The most important potential change is making health care more convenient for the consumer. Generally, area public hospitals that act as the sole safety net are few and far between for the consumers that need access to them. The geographic obstacle is one of many that prevents consumers from taking advantage of care that is free currently. Increasing equality of the distribution of points of access to care helps to improve the health of the consumer. Ensuring access also gives an incentive for a growth in the number of primary care specialists in comparison to the number of specialists due to the increase in demand.

Universal Health Care Series: The National Security Argument

This post is Part III in a series exploring reasons to support universal health care. You can find the other parts of the series here.

Fences and security checkpoints versus pathogens. David versus Goliath. While it seems that one side has the brute strength and power to counter the other, we all know how the second conflict ends.

The flu epidemic of 1918 killed one-fifth of the world’s population in about two years, resulting in more deaths from the epidemic than World War I. Our interconnected society makes epidemics more likely to occur with the ease of mobility within countries and in between them.

photo courtest of Daquella manera

photo courtesy of Daquella manera

A recent epidemic scare happened in 2007 when Andrew Speaker, after receiving a diagnosis of drug-resistant tuberculosis, proceeded to travel overseas and back on commercial flights for his wedding and honeymoon. Speaker was already out of the country when before authorities realized that he was infected with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, which is the most difficult strain to treat.

Fortunately, no one was infected; also fortunately, Speaker was diagnosed and authorities were informed that he was infected. Imagine what could have happened if Speaker could not have seen a doctor.

MRSA and other “superbugs” are becoming increasingly frequent. Avian flu and pandemic flu are also looming biological dangers.

Imagine a situation where a patient has a bacterial infection but never goes to see a doctor because they can not afford the visit. The patient would continue to pass through the general population, infecting others. Public health officials would have greater difficulty finding the source of the infection because there would be so many more cases.

Imagine a situation where a patient actually sees a doctor, but in a crowded emergency room. The doctor, overwhelmed with cases, quickly diagnoses the bacterial infection and prescribes penicillin. The patient takes the medication, but the bacteria becomes resistant to penicillin.  His condition worsens and he can spread a drug-resistant strain to others.

Imagine a situation caused that as a byproduct of his socioeconomic status, the patient lives in conditions that are ripe for the spread of infections: close quarters and poor ventilation. Poverty also compromises the strength of one’s immune system, leaving the body open to infections and once infected, the body can not fight infections well.

1) Universal health care provides a greater likelihood of early detection to curb infections before they grow too quickly. Early detection is a key advantage in controlling epidemics and preventing deaths. Earlier detection also helps to reduce the likelihood that drug-resistant strains develop in the general population.

2) Increasing access to health care allows health care professionals to identify patients at risk and intervene to offer ways to reduce the risk of infection.

3) Universal health care enables consistent access to proper treatment. Treating infections with the wrong medication or with an insufficient dosage can cause the pathogen to mutate, creating drug-resistant strains.

Preventing epidemics should be a priority of paramount concern if the government actually wants to ensure national security. Implementing universal health care is an important step in the right direction.