Patient Engagement

HealthSparq seeks ‘idiotic’ stories with #WhatTheHealthCare campaign

The campaign’s business objective is to put HealthSparq at the forefront of the patient engagement discussion and provide “a brand lift,” said Burt Rosen, vice president and chief marketing officer for the company.

Medical History

Everybody in the world has an “idiotic healthcare story,” according to HealthSparq, and the provider of online healthcare shopping tools is collecting them on Twitter and Facebook as part of its #WhatTheHealthCare campaign.

The campaign’s business objective is to put HealthSparq at the forefront of the patient engagement discussion and provide “a brand lift,” said Burt Rosen, vice president and chief marketing officer for the Portland, Oregon-based company. But it’s ultimate objective is to inject more humanity into healthcare, Rosen said.

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So far, the campaign has received 60,000 Facebook views and tweets are being collected at the #WhatTheHealthcare hub.

In explaining why such a campaign is needed, Rosen cites the example one family whose bill for the delivery of their baby included a $39.95 charge for “skin to skin contact.” They eventually learned that this covered having a nurse hold their newborn baby moments after birth.

Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute at San Diego-based Scripps Health, recently wrote in the Washington Post about his ordeals with the healthcare system following knee-replacement surgery. But most patients don’t have that kind of podium, so they take to Twitter and other social media outlets to tell their stories.

Rosen said his “all-time favorite video” is the one by the Cleveland Clinic on empathy and empathy and patient care which has garnered 3.12 million views on YouTube:

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He confessed to spending a lot of time on social media, and this includes watching the videos of Morgan Gleason on YouTube and following people like Dave deBronkart, a.k.a. “ePatientDave,” on Twitter.

“He’s amazing,” Rosen said of deBronkart. “He’s the loudest, but there are a lot of people like him out there.”

DeBronkart said in an email that he wasn’t yet familiar with the #WhatTheHealthCare campaign, but he supports its intentions.

“I will say that ANYtime people start talking about what is really happening in healthcare, it’s a good thing, and same for when they start talking about what it COULD be,” deBronkart wrote. “We have a strain where medical miracles happen, yet both clinicians and patients feel squeezed for both time and money, while costs KEEP rising.”

DeBrokart told the story of a friend who switched insurance plans only to be horrified to learn that the new company won’t pay for “the only drug that works” for his wife’s multiple sclerosis.

“What the hell, healthcare?” he wrote. “Who’s taking all that money?”

Rosen was in Chicago Thursday for a Consumer Experience & Digital Health Forum sponsored by the insurance industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), and he said the conference was a good illustration of the problem.

“There are no consumers here,” Rosen said. “Everyone talks about consumers, but they don’t talk to the consumer.”

One way HealthSparq has addressed this issue, Rosen said, was to literally recruit people from off the street to serve on conference panels and talk about their healthcare experience.

HealthSparq, which has a client base of 71 health plans, also published an analysis of who’s shopping for what healthcare services online and when. Rosen said only 1 percent to 3 percent of patients shop for the lowest healthcare costs, but that number is growing. HealthSparq’s 2015 Health Care Shopping Trends Report tracked 523,000 searches by 237,000 users of its online tools.

The top searches were for labor and delivery and imaging and radiology. Interestingly, the December edition edition of the Journal of the American College of Radiology is a special issue focusing on patient- and family-centered care and has open public access.

The ACR formed a Commission on Patient Experience in August 2015, led by Dr. James Rawson,  who chairs the radiology and imaging department at Augusta (Georgia) University and who co-wrote the issue’s lead editorial.

“A common theme throughout these articles is the need to team up with patients,” Rawson and his co-authors wrote. “In the end, it comes down to respect and acknowledgment of the unique expertise provided by both radiologists and patients as they join together for optimum patient outcomes. Patients will always be the experts in their own experiences.”

Rosen said it’s the rising forces of patient engagement and empowerment that will be the outside force that changes healthcare for the better.

“Healthcare isn’t going to fix itself,” he said.

Photo: Getty Images