Since the approval of the President's Universal Heathcare Measure, researchers at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US Dept. of Health) have been tasked not only with the challenge of clarifying the options of the proposed socialized medicine program, but with marketing health itself. If healthcare is going to be funded from the public coffer, it follows that the public has a certain responsibility not to abuse that privilege with unhealthy behaviors. Put another way, good health is the right thing to do. But how do you convince people of that? A business and healthcare administration professor at the University of Utah Eccles School of Business, Debra Scammon, concludes in a recent paper in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing titled "Transforming Consumer Health" that the answer is a strong social marketing campaign.
Social marketing is a business strategy that takes the long view, focusing on changing behaviors over time, and it has already been tried and proven successful in addressing health issues. Social marketing doesn't immediately benefit the consumer or the marketer, but it does produce quantifiable results in the longer run. Perhaps the best known example is the TRUTH anti-smoking campaign. It has taken several decades of persistence, but attitudes and policy toward smoking have changed fundamentally, thanks in some part to a powerful social marketing effort.
The Kaiser Permanente THRIVE radio and television advertising blitz is also an instance of social marketing. What does Kaiser stand to gain from convincing you to sing in the shower? Well, singing makes you happy and happy people are healthier according to research, and healthy people need less medical care, which saves HMOs like Kaiser money. The campaign also serves to raise Kaiser's general likability quotient. Hiring smart, genial (and healthy) actress Allison Janney to do the voice work on their ads was a savvy investment. When it comes time to choose a medical care provider under the new government measure (which will require you to be covered and offer you a choice of HMOs), you just might pick Kaiser because it seems they understand the importance of your happiness. (That is, if you haven't seen the anti-THRIVE watch website, with its THIEVES parodies.)
On the translational research healthcare front at the University of Utah, the first annual Bench to Bedside (B2B) Medical Device Competition concluded on May 2 with a tradeshow-like demonstration event.
Student teams in the B2B competition designed and built innovative medical device prototypes on a $500 budget and competed for a share of $70,000 in prize money. Competitors were medical students, engineering students, business students, and other undergraduates and graduate degree candidates. The program was operated through the Technology Venture Development office at the University of Utah and sponsored by Zions Bank and the Startup Center for Students (StaC). The six-month translational research challenge that culminated in the demonstration event will start its 2nd annual competition this November.
If you are a biomedical researcher, a scientist in any of the life science fields, or a supplier of laboratory equipment who would like the opportunity to meet and network with biotechnology research professionals in the Salt Lake City area, plan on attending the BioResearch Product Faire™ Front Line Event in Salt Lake City on the University of Utah campus on September 15, 2011. This event is free to science professionals and is presented by Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. as part of a nationwide series of science tradeshows bringing products and solutions to research scientists.