Aug 1 2013
If you’re a millennial like me, you’re probably getting pretty sick of other generations’ criticism. We’re too cocky, have talent without any work ethic and haven’t the slightest clue about how to fit into the “real” world. Sometimes I find myself throwing my hands up and saying “YOLO,” while other times I find myself on “their” side shaking my head at what our generation is doing. Politics aside, let’s get down to what you have to do to kick-off your career.
Disclaimer: if you have decided your mediocre GPA and lack of college activities is going to get you a position that pays $100,000 and lets you travel the world and drink on the job like a Mad Men episode, please stop reading here. If you want to get your foot in the door at a public relations (PR) or marketing agency, roll up your sleeves and expect to start as an intern.
The birth of your career: college
Don’t focus so much on what a college ranking list tells you. Rather, focus on what you can do at your college. No one is going to turn you away from a job if you started at a community college, but have a 3.7 GPA, were the president of a club, a teacher’s assistant and did freelance work on the side. On the other hand, if you went to Princeton and had a 2.5 GPA and have absolutely no relevant career experience outside of school, pack your bags, millennial – you’re moving home!
The point here is this: what you do in college matters – specifically, outside of class. I learned some of my most relevant leadership, professional and applicable career skills by doing PR for the University Programming Board (UPB) at James Madison (Go Dukes!). These career skills enabled me to successfully network my way to meeting an employee from CRT/tanaka. With my foot in the door, I then had to complete a thorough written test and an extensive interview process in which my experience working at UPB proved even more valuable.
Finding your internship/job
I made this mistake and no one told me not to do it: get off of job search engines. All they are going to give you is some awkward phone calls with some shady companies.
Start in college. Go to every career fair, alumni day and “major” day. The earlier you start, the easier it will become. The first time you may be so nervous you pee your pants and have to leave. Fine (as long as no one noticed) – move on and go get ‘em next year, champ.
Networking events don’t just happen post college. If I hadn’t decided to attend another major’s alumni conference (on a Friday morning none the less) I wouldn’t be a CRT/tanaka intern today. Do whatever it takes. Go to resume workshops, practice your PR writing skills (press releases, memos, etc.) and prepare yourself as much as possible because no reputable PR agency is just going to hand you an internship – you have to work for it. Start reading and commenting on industry and company blogs as soon as possible. Build your social profiles and get to know people in your field by sharing and retweeting interesting industry information. These minute details help you stand out tremendously.
Another tip: do not settle. I turned down full-time salaried positions. Wait – don’t stop reading! I turned them down because those opportunities weren’t going to open doors in the career industry I was passionate about pursuing. My dad about lost it when I did that (sorry, dad) but look how it turned out now. Never say, “at this point, I’ll take anything.” I was there – keep on chugging and get your foot in the right door.
At your internship
Congratulations! Now get to work.
If you’re at an internship where you’re making copies for a half an hour a day and sending Snapchats the rest of the day, rethink that company or better yet get serious and prove what makes you valuable. Be a pro at helping out with office duties (I am an expert at changing the water filter), but make sure you are pursuing opportunities and participating in work that is actually advancing your knowledge and benefitting the company.
Here are a few other quick tips:
Whether you’re still in college, on the job hunt or about to start your first internship, I hope these tips have helped you. Remember, there’s no one way to start your career, so take these suggestions, let them simmer and use them in a way that will benefit you.
Have any more tips? Please share in the comment section below!
Guest post by Liz Rea, Account Coordinator, CRT/tanaka’s Health and Healthy Lifestyle Practice
Jul 18 2013
Depending on who you ask, you may get a different definition of patient engagement. To some, patient engagement is synonymous with having a patient portal (access to their personal medical record). For some, patient engagement requires that people actually use the patient portal. The people that give those answers are likely healthcare IT professionals or physicians responsible for the infrastructure to support medical homes and meaningful use. For others, patient engagement is more about the responsiveness of the nurses, whether patients received discharge instructions, or whether patients would recommend the hospital to friends or family. If you are getting those answers, you are probably talking to staff responsible for HCAHPS scores.
Then there are those who would describe patient engagement as how well patients experience your health system: from their experience on the website, to how they are treated by the staff in a physician’s office (which may or may not be part of your system); from how long they waited in the Emergency Department to whether they could walk in to your outpatient lab for routine blood work. In marketing and PR, we would call this your brand.
In reality, patient engagement is the intersection of all of these things. So just imagine if the IT team, the web developers and the marketing and communications team combined their efforts to create the Amazon of health systems.
In a recent article by Chris Murphy in Information Week, he argued that providers should benchmark their online engagement against other industries. He went on to identify some key questions healthcare providers should be asking themselves. It got me thinking. Some of the most innovative changes that have been made in healthcare over the years are the result of thinking from the outside in, rather than the inside out. The key to enhancing patient engagement is no exception.
As Murphy quipped:
“How come a retailer such as Amazon or Apple can remember I bought an Ace of Bass recording the last time I visited, but the people who help keep me alive or healthy have to ask about my allergies every time I show up at the doctor’s office? Why can I book a flight, hotel and car from three different companies on one website but not schedule doctor appointments online and see all of my upcoming medical visits in one place?”
Yes, Chris….why is that?
HIPAA and safety considerations that make healthcare unique notwithstanding, there is no real barrier to recreating the Amazon experience in healthcare. It will take a few talented people to adapt the model and implement it, and others will follow. It is not a question of whether we have the technology to simplify the patient experience. Nor is it a question that this would enhance patient engagement in their care and build loyal brand advocates for our organizations. So why is there no Amazon in healthcare?
I know dollars are limited and your organizations are investing in electronic health records, supply chain and physician alignment. And I get that you also have one foot in the value-based purchasing boat and one foot still on the pay for procedure dock. But creating the Amazon of healthcare is not a nice to have, and it is just as important a part of your business strategy as electronic health records, supply chain and physician alignment.
I could simplify your entire 2014 business plan into one sentence “We will become the Amazon of healthcare within X years.” I’ll let you fill in the gaps, but this goal is not only measurable and achievable, it is an imperative to make your health care organization successful. And if you’re not interested, I think I’ll suggest to Amazon that they jump into the healthcare arena by partnering with health systems to improve patient engagement. Crazier industry cross-overs have occurred. And we need some disruptive innovation in healthcare. You Amazon stockholders can thank me later.
What innovations have you implemented that fundamentally differentiate your health system and drive patient engagement?
Image Courtesy of Robert Scoble
Jun 13 2013
Guest post by Janine E. Payne, MPH, a health care communication professional, mom, wife and singer. With more than 20 years of experience in health communication, Janine’s career spans almost every sector, including non-profit, government and agency work, to name a few. Follow Janine on Twitter @Janine_Payne or check out her Tumblr, Before and After 50.
Aging is what we do. We think about it all the time: whether we’re anxiously awaiting 18 or 21 years-old, or to get our hands on an AARP card – we’re always counting up or down – I guess it depends how you look at it.
May 16 2013
Last week at the Virginia Society for Healthcare Marketing and PR conference, I had the privilege of hearing from a variety of speakers who shared their knowledge on topics ranging from branding and innovation to health care reform and patient engagement. Because I’ve always been a lover of travel and experiencing other cultures, when Juana Quick, president of Queue, gave her presentation on lessons learned while exploring Japan’s healthcare industry, I furiously began taking notes. Although the Japanese appreciate Americans for introducing Facebook and Starbucks to their country, there are a few best practices they could introduce us to when it comes to our health care system.
There is a fundamental cultural difference between Japan and the U.S. characterized by a focus on the success of the group over the individual. This principle is near and dear to my heart as it is one of CRT/tanaka’s shared values, so I have seen firsthand the success and collaboration that comes from this practice. For example, in Japan a doctor doesn’t seek an extra certification to improve his own standing but to further contribute to the success of the group. It’s like having aligned incentives as the norm, rather than a strategic goal.
In Japan, CEOs are required to have an MD after their name. They assume that if a CEO is a brilliant business person but can’t gain the respect of the physicians by talking their language, then they can’t lead a successful hospital. As marketing and PR professionals, we often speak a different language than our clients. We focus on things like engagement, impressions and reputation while business executives often speak in corporate-eze and the bottom line. As communications professionals, it’s our responsibity to talk the talk of the target audience, whether health care executives, technology experts or food and nutrition professionals. We have to speak their language in order to build credibility and engage with them in a meaningful way.
In the U.S., hospitals are not known for their hospitality when it comes to the duration of a hospital stay. In ironic contrast, Japan’s average length of stay is seven to nine days, which is three to four days more than the average stay in the U.S., yet the cost of health care in Japan is significantly less than that in the U.S. What’s more, their outcomes are better. Once patients are discharged from the hospital, they are called within 24 hours of discharge, one week after discharge and, again, 30 days after discharge. Their longer stays and impeccable discharge procedures lead to lower infection rates and a virtually nonexistent rate of readmissions. In 2008 in the U.S., it was estimated that preventable hospital readmissions cost the health care system $25 billion in wasteful spending. And current laws have recently been passed that tie a hospital’s reimbursement to its readmission rates. Maybe if we focused more attention on quality care and thoughtful follow-up, we would not need new laws and financial incentives to reduce unnecessary readmissions so common in the U.S.
Imagine walking into the hospital, handing the staff your electronic social security card and having them pull up your entire medical history from the day you were born, regardless of where you sought care. In Japan, this idea of the ultimate electronic medical record is a reality. All of the hospitals and clinics in Japan, whether private or government owned, are connected by a single system, allowing them to share patient information with the click of a mouse. Patients no longer have to rack their brains for the date of their last tetanus shot or bring in a list of all of their medications. And physicians are aware of any ED visits, tests, allergies or procedures that a patient has had, making diagnosis and treatment more timely, more effective and more cost appropriate. Surprisingly, their doctor-to-patient ratio is almost half that of the U.S., but their efficiency is such that patients rarely wait longer than an hour to be seen by a doctor for a non-emergent admission, and in an emergency, patients are seen immediately.
Customer service is key in Japan. From the moment you walk into a hospital in Japan to the moment you leave, a staff member escorts you to ensure your visit is exceptional. Managing everything from the lighting and temperature to making sure you receive your medications, the staff are fully focused on the patient experience. Everything from the room décor to the materials handed to you at discharge is impeccable, with every single detail being deliberate and planned. Every patient is treated as a VIP guest. Japanese hospitals would get full credit for patient experience.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not hating on the U.S. It’s just that if we can leverage what other countries like Japan have done well in health care, why not take advantage of it? As Kelly O’Keefe shared in his branding presentation, it’s often important to step outside of your comfort zone for inspiration. Japan is doing something right in health care, so why not search outside our borders for a little inspiration. Business as usual is not an option if we want to improve health and decrease the rate of health care spending in our country.