The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest panelists and do not reflect the view of Astellas.
Galvanizing collective action among healthcare stakeholders is key to improving patient care, whether this is through sharing best practice examples or offering insights into how to use social media to connect with a target audience.
Driving positive change for patients through collaboration and education was the topic for a month-long program to raise awareness of bladder-related conditions. Jessica Bateman, Senior Manager of Patient & Research Advocacy at the American Urological Association (AUA); Phyllis Greenberger, Senior Vice President for Science and Health Policy at HealthyWomen; and Steven Gregg, Executive Director at the National Association for Continence, formed the program’s expert panel.
We look at some of the panelists’ key insights.
Jessica Bateman, Senior Manager of Patient & Research Advocacy at the American Urological Association (AUA)
For Urology Care Foundation – the official foundation of the American Urological Association – partnering with those who have aligning advocacy agendas is key to fulfilling its role to incorporate the patient perspective into its advocacy initiative and strengthen its legislative messaging.
The UCF leads a coalition of 30 patient and physician advocacy organizations, called the Bladder Health Alliance, to raise awareness about bladder health and encourage dialogue between patients and physicians. One of the Alliance’s key achievements has been the official recognition of November as Bladder Health Month. This was realized by mobilizing grassroots advocacy efforts, including letter writing campaigns and visits to Capitol Hill, resulting in the passing of a health resolution in 2016.
Phyllis Greenberger, Senior Vice President for Science and Health Policy at HealthyWomen
HealthyWomen, a nonprofit information source for all women’s health issues, works with industry and female policy and advocacy groups, including the Black Women’s Health Imperative and the National Hispanic Medical Association.
Breakfast meetings with the Food and Drug Administration, for example, to discuss action on women’s health, and research and innovation events looking at how medications work differently for women than men are felt to be key to keeping the audience informed – and in helping develop relevant policy and advocacy outreach.
Steven Gregg, Executive Director at the National Association for Continence
With low levels of engagement by women suffering from bladder health problems, the question posed by the National Association for Continence’s (NAFC) Steven Gregg is: does social media actually work for advocacy groups?
He believes it does if you know your audience, know what you want your social media to do, and are clear about the direction in which you should be going. In line with this thinking, the consumer-facing NAFC rebranded its social media platforms as B Health – bladder and bowel health – realizing people may not want to be seen to follow an incontinence organization. It also adopts a four-step approach to communication by:
1. Developing an annual calendar of content that looks at key events
2. Working with other organizations, on a quid pro quo basis, to share content
3. Considering how best to engage with patients
4. And by tracking and analyzing what works.
Early on the NAFC realized its information needed to be easily accessible, so it focused on making sure it was mobile ready, and about 55% of its traffic now comes from smart devices.
Gregg also points out that social media has an immediacy, which means trial and error may produce results. But not all platforms are equal, says Gregg. “What works on Facebook does not necessarily work on Twitter, so you have to be willing to experiment on both.”