Posted on November 9, 2010
When a friend of mine recently found himself in need of an
urgent care center while traveling with his family, he pulled out
his new Evo and its Sprint Navigation tool to help him find the
closest health care provider. Five minutes later he was in the
lobby of a walk-in clinic; within an hour he was back on the
His experience made me realize that as more and more people
upgrade from standard cellular phones - remember the ones that
only make calls? - to those that do practically everything
or have an app that does, it becomes vital that all hospitals have
an updated mobile strategy. And I don't mean that you force
mobile users to browse through your existing website on their smart
phone. It's time for a separate mobile strategy that is
automatically loaded when a mobile user goes to your homepage and
that targets certain optimizers to drive traffic to it.
If you think you don't need a mobile presence, try to do what my
friend did and find the closest urgent care or emergency services
using a smart phone. Not surprisingly, I found a website called
findurgentcare.com which was either a sponsored site that only
showed fee-paying facilities, or simply a poor effort to show
nearby options. While it's a strategy worth consideration,
it's not very consumer-friendly.
Chances are most people without a navigation service will start
with a search engine - luckily those sites already have dedicated
mobile platforms - that will yield multiple results to pick
from. When you click on anyhospitalusa.com, you're forced to
navigate through a complex website designed to show viewers every
capability, provider and historical fact (if you aren't sure how
mobile-friendly your website is, go to www.mobiready.com and run a
As you're doing this, remember that your 12-year-old son just
slammed his hand in the car door and needs bandages, stitches,
maybe even an x-ray. You're out of town and have no idea where to
go. Do you really want to deal with a complex website? Of
Instead, when someone tries to find your services from their
mobile device, your mobile site will have the most likely sought
after information available on the home screen - things like phone
numbers, addresses, hours and maybe a capabilities overview. Follow
that with links to text pages that include the more detailed
information found on your regular website or an easy-to-use search
Keep in mind that urgent and emergency services are just the tip
of the iceberg when it comes to the ways people interface with your
website from a mobile device. Many consumers do more surfing
with their mobile device than their home computer, especially with
the introduction of the iPad and other similar devices. By getting
your site mobile ready, you'll make sure not to lose those
potential patients and maybe attract some new ones.
Posted on November 16, 2010
Get ready for McDebate over the next year as San Francisco
lawmakers try to ban Happy Meals.
An ordinance approved last week - and already vetoed - would
prevent restaurants in the City by the Bay from including free toys
or other fun items in children's meals with more than 640 mg of
sodium, 600 calories, or 35 percent of its calories from fat; the
meals also need to include a fruit or vegetable serving. Supporters
point to health statistics that they say prove the negative impact
unhealthy fast-food meals have had on childhood obesity.
When I first heard about this, I could feel my blood pressure
rise - and not because I shook too much salt on my large order of
fries just hours before. My angst was from the idea of government
telling a business how to market its product. After all, Happy
Meals have to be considered one of the greatest marketing
strategies in history. For the past 30+ years, the pioneer
McDonald's and its fast-food rivals who have failed to duplicate
its success have enticed sales with the perfect combination of the
four P's: product, price, place and promotion.
Was it possible that government was going to pull the plug on
this bit of genius?
I decided I had to read the ordinance [www.sfbos.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=37154]
instead of just the news stories [www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/cityinsider/detail?entry_id=76704].
To little surprise, the "Happy Meal Ban" reported in the media was
actually presented as the "Healthy Foods Incentive Ordinance."
Here's the part where the lawmakers try to convince us they
aren't overstepping government's boundaries:
"By enacting this ordinance, the City seeks to regulate the
sales practice of restaurants physically packaging or tying a free
toy (or other incentive item) with unhealthy food for children. The
City does not seek to limit or regulate any speech, communication
or advertising on the part of any restaurant in any manner. Nor
does the City seek to ban entirely the practice of tying free toys
with children's meals. Rather, the ordinance allows restaurants to
engage in this conduct so long as the toy or incentive item is tied
with a meal or single food item that meets specified nutritional
standards. By limiting this sales practice to healthy food, the
ordinance seeks to encourage and increase the likelihood that
parents will make healthier choices for their children when eating
out in restaurants, and to encourage and increase the likelihood
that children will make healthier choices for themselves at
Look, the lawmakers' intentions are noble - fighting childhood
obesity is something many of us in healthcare have targeted for
years. We've worked with schools to provide healthy meals,
educated parents about including fruits and vegetables in their
children's diets and partnered with community groups to encourage
more physical activity.
Next I tried to rationalize this new law by comparing it to
government's efforts to regulate alcohol and tobacco.
Advertising limitations and other restrictions have certainly made
an impact, but people are still choosing to smoke and drink. The
impact on non-smokers has been proven and I'm all for steps to
limit exposure in public places. I also have no tolerance for
drunk drivers and support tougher enforcement and penalties.
But armed with the additional research and significant time to
ponder, I'm still convinced that the San Francisco ordinance is out
of line. Applying the same logic used in drafting it, one
could create a law preventing children from using McDonald's
Playlands unless they ordered a healthy meal first. Wouldn't
that be a classic government move - banning exercise?
Look, I'm all for trying to reduce childhood obesity - each of
us should encourage our children to make healthy choices.
I'm guessing that the much-anticipated veto announced Friday by
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom won't be the last move in this
political chess game scheduled to take effect in December 2011
(supporters claim to have enough votes to overturn the veto and
lawsuits would seem a likely next step). Frankly, I'll be shocked
if it goes into effect and is enforced as originally passed. After
all, I can't be the only parent who feels he doesn't need the
government to decide whether to let his daughters order a Happy
I know there are certainly different perspectives on this
issue. Let's hear them. Where do you weigh in?
Please post your comments.
Posted on November 22, 2010
As we enter the biggest print advertising week of the year, it's
a perfect time to remember that you shouldn't let the
multi-inch-thick stack of ads in this week's editions make you
think that newspapers are making a comeback. But that doesn't mean
that you should ignore the medium either.
In fact, in some rural communities print advertising is still
the medium that brings the best bang for the buck. Here's
1) Penetration. Weekly
publications can have penetration rates that eclipse 90
percent. That means you can hit your entire target market
without having to spend across several mediums. Being able to save
those dollars for future campaigns can pay dividends later in the
2) Cost. Since you're
still talking about relatively small circulation, the rates you pay
aren't as high as you might think. And even though you can
afford full-page ads, you don't have to - people read
everything in these publications.
3) Frequency. Even if
you're choosing a weekly, you can get the message across several
times to your target audience in as little as a month. Try equaling
that success in another medium.
4) Visibility. In
small communities, it's important to be visible - especially when
hospitals from larger cities are trying to lure your patients
away. Again, since everyone is reading the weekly paper, make
sure they're reading about you.