Giving Thanks for a Job Well Loved

Giving Thanks I speak for all of us at Dobies Healthcare Group when I say this: we LOVE what we do at work every day. As healthcare marketing strategists, artists, storytellers, brand-builders and more, we feel very fortunate that our work empowers us to make a difference. While marketers everywhere have the opportunity to strengthen brands and connect people to products and services, not every marketer can say inspiring others to make their health a priority is the driving force behind their strategies and communications. If we were marketing soda or rental cars, for instance, our work would bring results to our clients, but the overall impact wouldn’t feel as meaningful.

Carol Dobies touched on this very topic last week when she blogged about our mission statement and what drives our team to excel. In case you missed it, here’s an excerpt:

“We come to work every day because we fundamentally believe our work makes a difference in how people think about health. The creative messages we send into the airwaves for a community hospital, for instance, inspire consumers to take their health more seriously…We succeed when our strategy, words and designs inspire people to make better, more informed decisions about health and contribute to improved care and quality of life for patients…Simply put, our work illuminates the better decision.”

So, on this special day of thanks, we just wanted to express how thankful we are for each and every opportunity to bridge gaps between patients and providers, and between providers and better business solutions. To all our clients past, present and future: thank you for partnering with us for such meaningful work. Happy Thanksgiving!

Dobies Healthcare Group: Committed to Making a Difference in Organ Donation

We are a passionate group of people at Dobies Healthcare Group. We take deep pride in our work and strive to help our clients improve the health of their communities. We know the campaigns we create, the brands we craft and the strategies we use can deeply impact the lives and health of others. After all, that’s why we come to work every day. Donate Life 2015

One healthcare cause close to our hearts is organ donation. Currently, there are more than 123,000 people on the transplant list, and each day approximately 79 people become transplant recipients. Yet, an average of 21 people die every day while waiting. Sadly, the number of those waiting far exceeds the number of donors.

We want to improve these statistics. Through our skills and talents, we’re doing what we can to support the field – through board memberships, speaking at forums and conferences, and fostering relationships with research groups. Here are some highlights of our commitment to organ donation.

Donation and Transplantation Community of Practice (DTCP) – For the last year and a half we have facilitated three strategic planning sessions for the organ donation and transplantation community of practice. DTCP members represent a highly committed group of individuals and organizations interested in improving donation and transplantation practices across the nation. Learn more about DTCP’s goal’s to increase the number of organs transplanted by 5,000 over the next five years.

NATCO, The Organization for Transplant Professionals – Dobies Healthcare Group has facilitated strategic planning and marketing advisory services for the NATCO Board.

American Board for Transplant Certification – Previously serving on its Board of Governors, Carol Dobies and team are working closely with the Board to drive new marketing and awareness strategies to help ABTC achieve its goals of creating knowledgeable, certified transplant professionals.

Research and Planning Group – Our strategic alliance with RPG extends our capabilities in the area of market research, giving us insight into consumer wants and needs related to all areas of healthcare, including organ donation.

Midwest Transplant Network – Through our marketing partnership with MTN, we have the opportunity to compel people in our market area to sign-up to donate, and in turn save the lives of our fellow Kansans and Missourians.

It’s an honor to work with these outstanding organizations, and we are thankful for the chance to lend our expertise to this cause. These organizations are at the forefront of change in the organ donation community, and without their efforts, many more candidates would not have hope and the opportunity for a second chance at life.

As the month of April ends, so does National Donate Life Month. If you haven’t signed up to be an organ donor, please take a moment to join the registry. If you live in Kansas or Missouri, please visit YesTheyWantMe.com. If you live elsewhere, DonateLife.net will direct you to your state’s registry. Through organ donation, you have the potential to save up to eight lives, and improve an additional 50 lives through tissue donation. What are you waiting for? If you have already signed up, please encourage family and friends to join the registry. Together, we can all do our part to #DonateLife.

This One Is Just for Fun

Given the nature of what we do, it’s no surprise that everyone at Dobies Healthcare Group has at least two personality traits in common: our penchants for creativity and our competitive spirits.

Both factored in during our fourth annual holiday scavenger hunt earlier this month, when we took half a day to “unleash our creative potential” – something we do at work every day, but this time we took it to the streets of Kansas City. Together with our associates at Group 3 Solutions, we ventured out in teams, each one armed with a camera, a charitable donation, and a healthy determination to have fun and finish first.

  • Task 1: Find your creative voice. To prepare the final touches for our annual white elephant gift exchange, team members were asked to create holiday cards with “sappy sentiments” and original artwork. It’s always fun to see the range of directions we take with an assignment like this, especially when we’re given crayons and construction paper as our art tools. Nothing helps ring in holiday cheer quite like the festive decor of Hallmark, so we tapped the talents of our inner children at “CC@CC” – the Crayola Cafe at Crown Center.
  • Task 2: Create a lifeline for those in need. At Dobies Healthcare Group, we believe it’s important to give back to the community all year long. But this time of year – when cold and loneliness have greater repercussions on the health and well-being of the less fortunate in our area – we like to create a special event for it. Teams were sent to Project Warmth KC headquarters and City Union Mission to drop off blankets and monetary donations. Although it may not provoke as many laughs, this is always our favorite part of the scavenger hunt.
  • Task 3: Explore the creative vision of an architectural icon. While some of us admired “the old” at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, others marveled at “the new” – the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The latter recently changed our downtown skyline, and both buildings helped put Kansas City on Frommer’s Top 10 Destinations in 2012.
  • Task 4: Join in a creative holiday toast. It’s fun to break away into teams at the start, but it’s even more fun to come back together as a group for the end. To show our support for local small business, we capped off the festivities with some “artful frozen cocktails” and Snow & Co. in the Kansas City Crossroads District.

As always when we’re having a blast, time flew by and soon the day was done. Funny…the same thing happens every day at the office, too – just goes to show how much we love what we do here at Dobies Healthcare Group.

To view pictures from our scavenger hunt and more, visit us on facebook. Happy Holidays!

The Internet Says I Have WHAT?!

We’ve all done it:

We suffer from a sniffle that lasts a bit longer than usual and we’re off to a search engine to self-diagnose our mystery illness. Depending on the search results (and our levels of persistence and paranoia), either we are comforted that we’ve simply contracted the common cold…or we’re convinced that we’ve developed a CSF leak and the fluid that surrounds our brain is escaping through our nose!

Those of us who believe the second diagnosis are likely falling victim to cyberchondria:

“… the unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptomatology, based on the review of search results and literature on the Web.”

And as health content on the Web continues to grow, we risk becoming cyberchondriacs with every Google or Bing search query.

To help curb cases of cyberchondria, some believe it is the responsibility of the search engines to provide results the public can trust. While I agree the search engines play a role, I believe the solution begins with healthcare marketers and Web writers. We have the responsibility to work with physicians, nurses and other medical professionals to produce complete, accurate and understandable information for the search engines to deliver to the online community. Studies show this kind of quality information is not always available for certain conditions, which leads medical experts to warn against relying too much on the Internet for education.

Ultimately, however, it falls to healthcare consumers to do their part.  While it is important to be vigilant advocates for our health and make an effort to educate ourselves, we must be prudent in our research, both online and off, and remember to balance our findings with the first-hand opinions of medical professionals.

Facebooking for Better Health

Despite having more than 400 million active users, Facebook still has its skeptics. Some common complaints I’ve heard:

  • “It’s a waste of time!”
  • “Who needs an update on what I’m eating for lunch?”
  • “Why do I need to be a Fan of anything?”

Okay, sure. My status updates aren’t always riveting or note-worthy (see: “Dear Coffee, Marry me. Xoxo, Kelly”) and I’m not ashamed to say I “like” a Fan Page called “I Don’t Feel Like Folding My Laundry So I Just Restart The Dryer.”

But while I’m not alone in using the Status Update and Fan Page for innocuous fun, some people are using these basic Facebook features to help improve their health…and even save their own lives.

Like this guy, who decided to quit smoking and inadvertently created a support group among his Facebook friends simply by updating his status with the number of days he’d been smoke free. As his friends followed his progress, they “liked” his status as the number of days increased and left comments of encouragement when his updates expressed wavering resolve. Having a virtual audience to not only hold him accountable but also to offer him support no doubt helped contribute to his continued success.

Then there’s the woman who iused Facebook to help her find a kidney donor. Living in a state that ranks among the nation’s lowest in percentage of licensed drivers who are registered organ donors, she got creative and set up a Page called “Mel Needs a Kidney.” As of the end of May, she had heard from about 100 people who offered to get tested to see if they were a match. In addition to increasing her chances of finding a donor, her efforts are also helping raise awareness of organ donation and registration in Michigan.

So while it’s true many Facebook users limit their activities to tending virtual farms or tagging friends in party photos, there are some who are using the platform to improve their lives. And that’s something I’ll “like” any day.

Super-Size Your Weight Loss Efforts

Online program provides incentives to get healthy.Now that we’re a full month into 2010, I wonder how many people have given up their New Year’s resolution to get healthy and fit. After seeing a story on television about an incentive-based weight loss website, I was curious to learn if they had discovered a new way to help people stay on track. Turns out, Healthywage.com helps people make healthy choices – and the best part is they reward those who succeed!

After analyzing each participant’s health history, goals and preferences, Healthywage.com designs a personalized health program that includes weight loss goals, nutritional information and guidelines, and overall wellness goals. There is no cost to participate at the basic level, but those who want to enhance their motivation and super-size their reward can choose to invest $150 or $400. Those who reach their annual goal by following the proposed program and program rules receive up to $1,000 depending on their investment. How cool is that?

From a marketing perspective, the new website’s late January launch is perfectly timed to capture the attention of those who have lost interest in their weight-loss resolution. Sometimes, timing (and now, reward) is everything. What a great way to get healthy and fit!

Getting the Message: Using Texts to Encourage Healthy Habits

Text Messages Can Improve Healthy HabitsIn 2009, the potential negative consequences of text messaging became a dominant hot topic in tech news.  From the dangers of texting while driving (or even walking!) to the serious implications facing teens who send explicit photos via cell phone, it might seem like this convenient method of communication has been causing more harm than good.

Thankfully, however, some have discovered ways to harness the positive power of the text message.  For example, researchers in New York have discovered that sending medication reminders via text message to young liver transplant patients can improve the rate of adherence thus reducing the chance of organ rejection.  Another study found that people were more likely to wear sunscreen if they received a daily text message reminding them to do so.  And public health programs in California are using text messages to educate teens and young adults about STDs and sexual health.  We’ve even recommended the use of texting to help our clients reach out to Gen Y moms-to-be.

As texting continues to grow in popularity (an estimated 4.1 BILLION text messages are sent/received EVERY DAY, double the number from 2008), I’m hopeful we’ll find more and more ways to use this simple, low-cost technology to encourage healthy habits.

Stairway to Better Health

Stairway to Better HealthWhen you see a really good idea, you absolutely have to share it with everyone you know.  It used to be that we’d simply email a cool link to our friends and colleagues, but this one is worth talking about.

My hat is off to Volkswagen and thefuntheory.com.  From pianos to pinball, they have collected some great ideas to inspire healthy behaviors.

For all of my clients with offices on the second floor or higher, let this be an inspiration to you to use the stairs.  At a minimum, consider equipping your stairways to health to help fight obesity by giving it a fresh coat of paint.  Hang some artwork, include an inspirational message or two.  Maybe install Wii Fit stations on a landing, or wire up a video board so employees can compete with one another on the number of trips up the steps.   Please add to the list of possibilities by posting a comment.

America’s Sweet Tooth Leads to Bitter Consequences

Keeping tabs on our daily sugar intake could help reduce obesity rates.Did you know that the average American adult eats 22 teaspoons (355 calories) of sugar a day?  And the average teen consumes 34 teaspoons a day? This doesn’t include any of the natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables. 

These are startling statistics – and no doubt a contributor to the skyrocketing obesity rate in the United States.  In fact, Colorado is the only state that has an obesity rate less than 20%. Obesity can eventually lead to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer, totaling to about $95 billion a year in medical spending. 

Will healthcare reform’s preventive programs and focus on wellness help Americans cut back and live healthier?  How do we begin to reverse the trends?

Well to start, we are what we eat. The American Heart Association recently published guidelines  about how much sugar we should consume per day.  Women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories of sugar a day compared to 9 teaspoons or 150 calories for men. 

Even small changes to our diet can make a difference. For example, eliminating one 12-ounce can of soda per day means cutting out 130+ calories (8 teaspoons of sugar) and losing 13 pounds per year. Imagine if we cut out that extra cookie or chocolate bar? We could be on the road to optimal health!

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

istock_000003679023xsmall_cropMay is finally here!  No more cold and snowy weather. It’s time for fun in the sun with outdoor barbeques, weekends at the lake, gardening and a host of other outdoor activities.

But before you step outside, is your skin protected?

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is by far the most commonly diagnosed cancer here in the U.S. But there are some guidelines you can follow to help reduce your risk.

So remember to take a few minutes each day to protect your skin and if you’ve never had a screening, get one on the calendar. I’ve got mine scheduled…do you?