Do We Have a Healthcare IT Public Relations Problem?

I may be preaching to the choir, or, perhaps, I’m speaking to myself. Here I am, a member of the both the health IT community and a member of the PR community. One of my tasks is to help educate and inform those within and those on the outside of the healthcare community about the benefits of technology that’s designed and created for the betterment of physicians, caregivers and patients.

Being in my somewhat unique position, where I publish a site dedicated to healthcare technology and my role as a PR professional, I get to see things from both sides of the fence, in many cases several times in a given day.

I do a lot of pitching to media sources, sending stories and ideas that have been developed by my clients to best educate the community about a plethora of subjects to the media. I live by a credo established by myself to approach the media only with topics I feel are specific, educated and advance the overall conversation about a certain subject. Never do I blindly pitch ideas simply for the sake of landing coverage in obscure outlets.

Perhaps Electronic Health Reporter is an obscure outlet. I’d like to think not. Nevertheless, I get pitched by fellow PR practitioners a lot. More than you might think; several times a day. As regular readers of this site know, I tend to focus on healthcare information technology and it peripheral topics. But, that’s more than I receive from my colleagues for story ideas.

Some of the topics in my inbox are enlightening and some are entertaining; some of completely off topic and some should never have been sent. So, why is this important; why take the time to dedicate to a post about the subject?

Perhaps I’m a purist. Maybe I have a sense of self importance, but I tend to think that the conversations taking place with the media, things that are being positioned for the press by leaders in the HIT community, just might not be what the market – those serving patients and others in the practice of healthcare – really need, want or like.

At its very base, this is the sort of thing that makes me wonder just how much “innovation” there is because those in the position of creating a product for the purpose of selling it to make money are convincing those that are counting on them for the newest products to advance their mission in the field according to innovation and need.

I’m often called a cynic. It’s true. I’m suspicious of a lot of things. It’s something that I developed during my days as a reporter when, like now (as a site publisher and blogger), I get pitched a lot of stories that were not worthy of my time.

I’ve got to admit, I’m surprised by this disconnect. It’s somewhat eye opening to me that the vendors serving the healthcare community seem so far from synched up with those actually providing the care.

If I’m wrong, I hope you’ll let me know. If I’m right, I promise not to be part of the problem.

3 comments on “Do We Have a Healthcare IT Public Relations Problem?”

Thanks for your comment, Tim. For the record, I don’t currently represent any of the big HIT vendors (but happily would consider it if given the opportunity), though I recently worked in house for a major EHR vendor. I believe this along with my current experience, and the fact that I publish this site and have been a reporter for a major newspaper brand, gives me a unique perspective into how PR can be used to sell a story that might not be worthy of being sold. I think that happens a lot and it’s happening in health IT. If PR practitioners, who are essentially in charge of creating and marketing “thought leaders,” are creating conversations on their own in hopes of generating coverage rather than allowing the leader or the innovation of the company said leader runs then there’s clearly a disconnect, and makes one wonder who is really wagging the dog, which ultimately hurts the industry and gives us a bad name.

Thanks for sharing these links and for being such an active member of the HIT community.

Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

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