From new clients to old friends, I’m often asked the same two questions about my job:
1. How did I get involved in healthcare public relations?
2. Do I enjoy it?
To the first question - here’s my short (ish) answer: I come from a family of healthcare providers. My father is one of the “Top Docs” in his field of Gastroenterology, my mother is a primary care physician and my sister is a nurse practitioner. I, on the other hand, am the quintessential black sheep of my family. Mainly because I am close to fainting when I see a needle, but also because I decided to pursue a career in public relations.
My small act of rebellion was short lived; fortuitously, I joined InkHouse (almost) three years ago just as we started to expand our healthcare practice. Turns out, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. I quickly found my niche on my first healthcare account and never looked back. Now, InkHouse has a fast-growing healthcare practice and I am lucky enough to work on a variety of clients - from digital health startups to legacy healthcare IT organizations - that touch the entire continuum of care.
The second question takes a little bit longer to explain.
It’s all about the mission. At first glance, healthcare may not be as “sexy” as consumer technology or as exciting as the entertainment industry, but you get to build awareness for products and solutions that are making a real difference in people’s lives. It’s not about the next must-have wearable, it’s about how providers are gaining access to that wearable data to better monitor and treat their patients. It’s not about the next big diet pill, it’s about the technology platform that enables better patient engagement to assist in long-term weight-management for chronic patients, like those with diabetes.
In PR, we sometimes have to remind ourselves that “we’re not saving lives.” In healthcare PR, this is still true but the technology that we represent IS. That alone gives me the passion and the purpose to garner the best results.
It’s a challenge, but a good one. Becoming a clear communicator in healthcare IT is not an easy task. We often represent “the solution behind the solution, ” meaning we are the voices for the technology that the provider uses rather than the technology that the patient directly interacts with. While patient care is directly impacted (and improved), they would never know it. It’s our job to make sure this connection is clear to the media.
What’s more, the industry is filled with medical lingo (e.g. value-based care, population health management, health information exchange) and complicated acronyms (e.g. EHR, FHIR, ACO, MACRA). When talking to trade media, you really have to know what you are talking about. There’s no “fake it til you make it” in healthcare PR. But at the same time, it’s a fun challenge to really learn an industry inside and out.
The industry is undergoing major change. Ask anyone in healthcare, and they will tell you that the industry is lagging behind. Just Google “why healthcare is behind” and you’ll see articles talking about what healthcare can learn from Uber or Amazon - the list goes on and on. But at the same time, because the industry is so in flux, there is a huge opportunity for innovation and change for the better. For example, because of the meaningful use mandate (there’s some medical jargon for you), the industry is now almost fully digitized with patient records. This is a huge step forward; however, now the industry is turning its focus to finding true value in that digital data to ultimately improve patient outcomes. This will require immense technological innovation and interoperability, but it’s all starting to happen now. And we get to work with the companies that are at forefront of this next phase in healthcare.
When in healthcare, Boston is the place to be. From world-class hospitals such as Partners Healthcare to the growing healthcare IT corporate presence with companies like athenahealth and leading universities and research centers like MIT, Boston is considered to be the hub of healthcare innovation. The city is conducive for healthcare technology startups and larger organizations to thrive, with the opportunity to see first-hand what is being developed and discovered at our nation’s leading hospitals and direct access to future business leaders to help those new discoveries come to life. 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