The Megaphone: HealthyComms. A Story About Storytellers

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A common misconception is that brilliant ideas or products will inevitably become successful based on their own merit. Ralph Waldo Emerson best illustrated this myth when he said something along the lines of, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door”.  While Emerson wrote some of the most influential works in modern history, this idea is one of his few miscues, and has been dubbed The Mousetrap Fallacy by both businessmen and social psychologists alike.

As we said in last week’s post, social media has given everyone an opportunity to make his or her message heard.   But when there are hundreds of tweets on your Twitter feed, and just as many stories clogging your RSS, it can be difficult to wade through the mess and find the message that truly resonates with you.  In the digital age, the greatest mousetrap ever constructed can easily be buried under an avalanche of never-ceasing content.   While having a remarkable idea or product is certainly helpful, its success depends largely on whether or not the story is told; and more importantly whom the story is told to.  The Health Tech industry needs storytellers to trumpet these important messages, and Dave Levy of the public relations agency SHIFT Communication’s HealthyComms team relishes the role.

The best stories are told by someone who is passionate about the story itself.  They are told by someone who believes in the story and wants you to believe as well- someone who has you on the edge of your seat because they are on the edge of their seat, each of their words dripping with liveliness, confidence, and excitement.  As Dave took 30 seconds to explain the product that his newest client had created, I could sense a genuine enthusiasm, and was impressed with his ability to give such a comprehensive elevator pitch for someone else’s company.  That sense of enthusiasm never left the conversation, “We look at our job as an opportunity to influence health care. We get to promote and stand behind people that are making a difference”.  He paused for a moment before matter-of-factly saying, “I learned not too long ago that there is something cool about health tech startups: there is always a reason, and it usually isn’t just about money.  At the end of the day it’s about treating patients, getting people better, and making a difference”.

The storytelling itself, I learned, is the end result of a very long process.  The process begins with understanding each client’s story, and then determining which health care community is best suited to hear it.  To make that determination, you need to understand the needs and wants of each community.  And to truly understand those needs and wants, you have to become a member of those communities.  The uniqueness of HealthyComms lies in its refusal to just be storytellers, blindly pushing their client’s products on to whoever is willing to listen.  They instead take a calculated and strategic approach, targeting each narrow group of people that would benefit most from hearing a particular story.

HealthyComms takes pride in getting their hands dirty, each member spending countless hours utilizing social media to join in the conversations within each health care community, whether it be physicians; allied health professionals; health tech junkies; or otherwise. In Levy’s words, “The reason I love being at HealthyComms is that we make it a point to be involved.  We don’t want to be a third party, we want to be in the middle of it all”.  He paused shortly again, “And if you’re going to talk health care, you can’t fake it”.

Having the knowledge to dive into conversations with professionals, who are obviously experts in their given field, takes an inordinate amount of research.  The amount of content that each member of the HealthyComms team reads on a weekly basis is unquantifiable.  It is a continuous process- a constant consumption of all things health care.  The breadth of that knowledge was readily apparent throughout our conversation.  In a half hour we touched on everything from strategies to engage patients through new technology, smartphone applications, screening tools to identify diabetics at risk for foot ulcers, and the newest reports published by the Pew Research Center.   The conversation perfectly mirrored one that I might have with another health care professional.  I wasn’t conversing with an outsider; there was no disconnect between us.  It was clear that he understood me as a healthcare professional, and as an entrepreneur.  He is what the HealthyComms team strives to be: an expert in health care.

These are the types of people that we as providers so desperately need in our mission to change health care for the better- a link between patients, providers, and vendors. People that can act as liasons.  People that can combine their understanding of the needs of each group with their knowledge of the current health care trends to determine where we are going as a community.  People that can find the greatest mousetrap ever constructed and make sure that the individuals who need it most hear about it.

HealthComms is a part of SHIFT Communications, the 2012 SABRE Award winner for Digital/Social Agency of the Year.  You can learn more about HealthyComms by checking out their website, and by following @healthycomms or @levydr on Twitter.

By: Ryan Klepps, TheraVid LLC

If you or someone you know is making a difference in health care, and has a story worth sharing, send an e-mail to team@theravid.com with the subject line “The Megaphone” or tweet us @TeamTheraVid.