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Challenges to Marketing New Patient-Centered Technologies Ahead

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, September 2, 2009

Kaiser Permanente's latest "Thrive" campaign ads are just as visually stunning as the others in the series. One of the two new ads, released yesterday, focuses on technology and innovation in general, and electronic health records in particular.

The "Emerald City" spot, created by the Warren, MI-based Campbell-Ewald ad agency, depicts a fairy tale world that is part busy city and part quiet woodland forest. Old-growth trees are rooted in the middle of streets and between sky scrapers. All is calm and peaceful. Motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and deer (yes, deer) live together in harmony.

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of the Thrive campaign. I wrote about their "Kabuki" ad on the MarketShare blog a few months back, admitting that I couldn't stop watching it.

The Kabuki ad was about patient-centered care and a team approach to delivering healthcare. It's a concept that anybody could understand: Who doesn't want to be at the center of a team of caregivers who support and heal you?

EHRs a tough sell
I'm not sure, though, that the general public understands EHRs—much less makes healthcare decisions based on their availability. And I'm not sure that in this case, the message about their benefits to the patient is effective.

"By putting an end to paper medical records, we have ushered health into the digital age," the commercial's narrator says. "Saving lives, sometimes when seconds count. Managing chronic conditions. Making amazing new discoveries. And, oh yes, saving a lot of trees."

The ads reflect the Oakland, CA-based Kaiser's "commitment to the total health of its members and the communities it serves," according to a release. "As the nation seeks innovative solutions for reforming health care and reducing costs, Kaiser Permanente is leading the way in making technology a core tool for patients and providers with Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®, the world's largest civilian electronic health record."

Put the patient at the center
The second new ad, "Connect," shows a man in front of a clear computer screen, interacting with his healthcare provider via e-mail, making an appointment online, checking test results, and monitoring his health through Kaiser's My Health Manager.

"We know technology can make you more connected," the narrator says. "But now it can make you more connected to your doctor though e-mail. Test results from home. Check records. Change appointments. Now doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacists are all digitally connected to each other, and ultimately connected to you. At Kaiser Permanente, we believe that if knowledge is power, shared knowledge is even more powerful."

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