Linking Wellness to Caregiving

While conducting secondary research this week, it really struck me that some of the most forward-thinking hospitals out there have been aggressively marketing their approach to community wellness since as early as 2007. That's a pretty big lead. Certainly, that represents a very small portion of overall hospital marketing, but there are MANY health systems out there that are only now starting to take real baby steps in this direction. And, as several industry sources have pointed out (AHMBMcCann), wellness as a position has moved out of healthcare and into the mainstream, making it that much harder for hospital marketers to differentiate when they finally do get their wellness position pulled together.

Consider fitbit. They are using the word 'fit' to stake their claim within the wellness category. They aim to both 'fit' into your life and improve your 'fit'ness. Their mission is to:

To empower and inspire you to live a healthier, more active life. We design products and experiences that fit seamlessly into your life so you can achieve your health and fitness goals, whatever they may be.

I was thinking about the challenge to establish unique niches within wellness when I read this week's Annarchy blog post and came across this poignant insight:

"There’s a lot of drudgery that goes into care-taking. And, I suppose, there’s a lot of drudgery that goes into love, too."

It got me to thinking that I'd love to see a health system take a position on care giving as wellness. And, I'm not just talking about the stereotypical older woman caring for her elderly parents, though she's certainly included in this target. But, I'm thinking of a much broader group, that is any one of us that worries about or cares for others.

I'm talking about the moms and dads worried about their newborn; the younger sister worried about her older sister's obesity; the friend worried about her bestie's breast cancer; the adult child worried about her parent's tremor; the parent worried about their adult child's diabetes; the wife worried about her husband's blood pressure and so on. Just think about all the people we care about and the ways in which we do so and the toll that care takes on our daily lives and on our own wellness.

Wellness, is at its core, a selfish position. It's about taking care of yourself. And, yet many of us (especially the women who hold the pursestrings in healthcare decision making) tend to neglect ourselves, largely due to the effort necessary to care for those around us. A caregiver-oriented wellness position would allow a brand to appeal to its target audience in a more selfless sense--wellness for someone other than me--more truly reflective of how care giving actually occurs. A brand could certainly differentiate itself by building into its DNA ways of easing this burden, saving caregivers time, becoming a true resource for them.

What if a hospital offered:

  • [UPDATE! Here's a new idea from Susannah Fox's blog that we love:] access to or training for caregivers who can help someone access online resources they may need to get better care – that’s second-degree internet access
  • Access to an app like that tracked all of a caregiver's group health events (everything from childhood wellness to adult screenings) and it provided proactive notification when it was time to schedule them and allowed for online scheduling with their preferred providers or made provider suggestions?
  • Coordination via a SignUpGenius-like app that allowed a caregiver or their network to coordinate activities in the event of a birth or a death or a serious illness (who's going to bring meatloaf on Tuesday, etc.) or to relegate responsibilities when the caregivers themselves have to be hospitalized?
  • Taking the above one step further, what about seamless meal coordination via partnerships with area food brands? Consider taking this recent activity one step further.
  • A less intrusive means of checking on/notifying their network about a patient's condition via a partnership with an organization like CaringBridge.
  • An app that brings blood/organ donors together with recipients.
  • A relocation assistance program for transitioning older or dementia patients into alternate living environments, be it permanently or temporarily.
  • Regular hands-on training for caregivers via the wound clinic with input from other departments on changing dressings, treating pressure ulcers, monitoring wound vacs and using other equipment.
  • What else can you think of (besides just access to health information)?
Communicating Empathy in the Experience

Communicating Empathy in the Experience