Cancer vs Communication. Helping Advocacy Organizations Win the Battle

There’s an immediate and urgent need to advocate for cancer research and for services for families affected by the disease. Fortunately for patients and caregivers, there are innumerable national and international advocacy groups dedicated to cancer research and support (see a partial list at the end of this article). But each of these groups faces the challenge of fighting through multichannel clutter to reach, engage, and persuade their government, academic, and public audiences. A Google search for “cancer advocacy groups” returned 19 million potential links. To succeed, advocacy groups must apply state-of-the-art communication strategies and tactics.

Searching Patient Advocacy on GoogleFrom the patient’s perspective, advocacy groups provide intuitive, informative content that helps them and their caregivers find and coordinate the best available care. For a family in crisis with a new diagnosis or recurrent disease, answers and solutions must be accessible and at their fingertips quickly and without struggle.

Supporting patient and professional advocates

Advocacy groups have their work cut out for them, which is why Arteric works with them to enhance their digital marketing capacity.

For the second year in a row, I had the good fortune to be invited to lead multiple workshops for advocacy group representatives attending the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. The 2017 workshop, titled SEO: Exploring the Boundaries of the Possible in Online Patient Advocacy, was designed for staff leaders with responsibilities in digital marketing, communications, and Web channels.

Prior to the workshop, attendees completed a questionnaire about their organization’s online marketing strategy and website assets, including competitor information, to ensure that the workshop addressed each organization’s real-world challenges.

What the audiences learned

Throughout the sessions, the audiences learned best practices and strategies for leading-edge digital marketing, Web development, and SEO. We reviewed each organization’s goals for its Web presence and assessed how effectively its website aligns with these goals. After spirited and insightful conversations, I worked with each organization to help them align their goals with their website tactics and reviewed how to quickly and effectively identify issues that may degrade their sites’ performance in search results. The conversations ranged from YouTube and video search optimization to the implementation of an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven chatbot care navigator.

What I learned

Similarities and differences

These workshops exposed me to a broad spectrum of advocacy organizations — some with 30-page websites that attracted 200 visitors per month, others with thousands of website pages and millions of annual visitors. Their questions were similar:

  • How do we draw more traffic?
  • How can we outrank our competitors?
  • How can we more effectively engage our visitors?
  • How can we make our content easier to navigate?
  • How can we structure and execute on our content strategy?
  • How can we use analytics to decide what kind of content to develop?

The differences lay in each organization’s digital marketing and communication maturity, its available resources, and its vision for how it can best serve its audience. What was consistent was the workshop participants’ commitment and enthusiasm. Their questions drove us to discussions about how to set goals for digital marketing, how to measure progress, what innovative/transformative technologies are available to deepen their engagement, and practical next steps. I was deeply impressed by what small organizations can accomplish with limited resources and how much they’ve learned and progressed from year to year.

Small organizations

I believe that the biggest area of opportunity for small patient advocacy groups is to clearly define their content mission and the measurements they will use to determine if their strategy is working. Then, every 90 days, the group should review both the execution of their content strategy and their key performance indicators, adjusting what they are publishing online based on how well the content is performing. This analysis should be combined with insight mining of their pay-per-click (PPC) performance, search-terms report, and query data from Google Webmasters Search Console. I suggest this analysis because the data often provide inspiration for content that should be published and because Google offers advocacy groups PPC grants based on their status.

Large organizations

I was impressed by the willingness of the exceptionally large and successful advocacy groups to consider new ideas and technologies. Specifically, they have an opportunity to leverage their large content sets (thousands of pages) to build automated/guided experiences for visitors who are seeking answers. Thousands of user-generated discussions about disease, quality of life, and treatment create unique and interesting data sets to train AI. One discussion included the question “Do we hire a team of chat operators to interact with visitors or do we hire a team of chat operators to supervise a chatbot that is being trained to interact with visitors?”

Personally, I find it deeply frustrating to chat with a person online. I send my question. I wait 2 to 3 minutes while the person looks up the answer. I lose interest, switch to another window, waste the operator’s time, and the session dies. I prefer to ask the AI a question, get a pretty good answer, and then have the option to trigger a live chat session if my question wasn’t answered. It’s faster, and I prefer to fail faster.

My day with our advocacy partners reminded me about the breadth and depth of the challenges that they face, as well as the need to provide a variety of tailored solutions to their problems. It inspired me to think deeply about how we can do more with less and about the symbiotic relationships among consumers, advocacy, and brands. I was reminded that our healthcare system relies on a balance of partners — and, that patient advocacy and professional advocacy are essential in connecting stakeholders to the health information patients need to live longer, healthier lives.

Lending a hand

Working with advocacy groups that educate patients, caregivers and professionals is a privilege, but it’s also a natural fit for Arteric for two reasons:

I’m pleased that Dr. DeVita feels that the medical community is gaining the upper hand on cancer and that we are moving toward a world free from cancer; but for the foreseeable future, people affected by cancer will need advocates on multiple fronts. Arteric will continue supporting these organizations. If you want to join the effort, check out the domestic and international advocacy groups listed at the links below.

Push your digital engagement to the max

For two decades, Arteric has developed digital marketing strategies, websites, mobile apps, and Web applications that drive growth for healthcare brands and advocacy organizations. If you’d like me to lead a workshop for your organization, or if you would prefer to schedule a 15-minute conversation to discuss how Arteric can maximize the impact of your digital communication programs, please contact me at 201.558.9910.



Cancer Support Advocacy Groups

References

  1. The growth of the cancer e-patient and their thirst for control. The growth of the cancer e-patient and their thirst for control. info. January 2014 survey. Blog article available at https://www.patientpower.info/blog/2014/04/04/the-growth-of-the-cancer-e-patient-and-their-thirst-for-control. Infographic available at https://www.healthworkscollective.com/cancer-patient-use-internet-medical-information/. Accessed July 9, 2017.
  2. Katz B. Launch planning in a new customer reality. Decision Resources Group. Page 12. Available at http://www.drgdigital.com/ebooks/launch-planning-in-a-new-customer-reality?NoGate. Accessed July 12, 2017.
  3. DeVita VT, DeVita-Raeburn E. The Death of Cancer: After Fifty Years on the Front Lines of Medicine, a Pioneering Oncologist Reveals Why the War on Cancer Is Winnable—and How We Can Get There. New York, NY: Sarah Crichton Books, 2015.
  4. Cancer Statistics. National Cancer Institute Web site. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics. Updated March 22, 2017. Accessed May 17, 2017.
  5. World Health Organization Web site. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/. Updated February 2017. Accessed May 17, 2017.

 

Arteric Technology Utilized in Hypertension Medication Adherence Study at Baylor College of Medicine

OnTimeRx® Automated Reminder Service Tested in Stroke Prevention Program Targeting African-American Women

Arteric is a digital agency, but ultimately, we’re in the life extension business. By blending exceptional software development skills with healthcare marketing expertise, we help brands and healthcare organizations connect patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals with the health information and tools they need to live longer, healthier lives.

Susan Torrico, a career pharmacist and medication-adherence pioneer, is also in the life extension business. In 2000, after watching too many patients lose their transplanted organs because they didn’t follow their anti-rejection treatment regimens, Susan began experimenting with mobile technology as a method to improve medication adherence. As Susan explains, “It was devastating seeing so many people, especially teens, miss out on an opportunity for a healthier life simply because they didn’t take their medication. At that point, I developed the concept that became OnTimeRx®.”

In 2005, Arteric teamed up with Susan to develop the OnTimeRx® Automated Reminder Service — mobile technology that provides Web-based reminder-scheduling and notification messages that are delivered by text message, phone call or email. The Automated Reminder Service is the most recent addition to the OnTimeRx® adherence software collection, which include apps for the iPhone® and iPad®, for Android smartphones, and for Windows® desktop computers. These software apps provide reminders in the form of alarm sounds and/or on-screen notices as an alternative to text messages, phone calls or email.

We’re very interested in determining if the automated phone and email reminders sent by OnTimeRx® improve medication adherence in this at-risk population. Preliminary results from a very small patient population look promising.

In addition to transplant patients, OnTimeRx® technology has been applied in adherence studies involving HIV treatment in young people. It was inspiring to learn that OnTimeRx® software is now being evaluated in a population at risk for hypertension.1 African-American women are more prone to hypertension than non-African Americans — 47.5% vs 28%.2,3 Medication non-adherence can cause these women to develop a decreased threshold for stroke development or an increased progression of cardiovascular disease.

To address this issue, researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine are implementing the OnTimeRx® Automated Reminder Service in a pilot study investigating the efficacy of smartphone-based services to improve medication adherence.4 The study is funded by The Lone Star Stroke Consortium, which is a Texas-based collaboration of major stroke centers, and the Texas Nursing Association-District 9.

Study researcher Vanessa Monroe, Clinical Assistant Professor at Prairie View A&M University College of Nursing and PhD Candidate at Texas Woman’s University-Houston, shared these thoughts with us. “We’re very interested in determining if the automated phone and email reminders sent by OnTimeRx® improve medication adherence in this at-risk population.” Vanessa continued, “Preliminary results from a very small patient population look promising. We’re in the midst of adding more patients to the study.”

We’ll keep you informed about Vanessa’s progress, because non-adherence remains a vexing challenge, with rates ranging from 30% to 60% depending on the condition, the treatment, the patient and the setting.4 Medication error rates are just as worrisome — 20% to 80% of patients make mistakes and up to 60% of patients stop their medication too soon.Non-adherence also creates an economic burden. The cost of drug-related morbidity and mortality in the ambulatory setting in the United States has been estimated to be as high as $136 billion.5

Nonadherence has many contributing factors, and so presents a moving target. But mobile communication technology is continually evolving, and we’re evolving our platforms and extending OnTimeRx® functionality to help patients and healthcare providers meet the challenge.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ONTIMERX

Software solutions  from apps to enterprise

Arteric connects patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals to the health information they need to live longer, healthier lives. We achieve this by finding and filling unmet needs with intuitive well designed technologies. However needs change and technology evolves, count on Arteric to combine infinite curiosity, what if? thinking and unstoppable software expertise to develop life-changing custom mobile apps and out-of-the-box-ready enterprise solutions for pharma, biotech and life science marketers and the people that they help

For information about OnTimeRx® products, contact Jon Fisher at 201.546.9902.
For information about the clinical trial, contact Vanessa Monroe at 832.971.8682.

OnTimeRx is a registered trademark of Arteric.
Windows is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation                                             iPhone and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

References

  1. Monroe V, Dello Stritto R, Langford R, Young A. (2017). Texas Woman’s University-Houston. Testing a Smartphone Application Intervention to Improve Medication Adherence in African American Female Clinic Patients with Unstable High Blood Pressure: A Two Group Randomized Control Trial. Presented at the Southern Nurse Research Society Symposium. Dallas, Texas.
  2. Taylor J, Peternell B, Smith J. (2013). Attitudes toward genetic testing for hypertension among African American women and girls. Nurs Res Pract. 2013;2013:341374. doi:10.1155/2013/341374 
  3. Still C, Craven T, Freedman B, et al. (2015). Baseline characteristics of African Americans in the systolic blood pressure intervention trial. J Am Soc Hypertens. 2015;9(9), 670-679. doi:10.1016/j.jash.2015.06.012
  4. Gottlieb H. Medication Nonadherence: Finding Solutions to a Costly Medical Problem. Medscape. Available at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/409940_6. Accessed May 3, 2017.
  5. Johnson J, Bootman J. (1995) Drug-related morbidity and mortality. A cost-of-illness model. Arch Intern Med (18):1949-56.