How healthcare marketers can help improve heart health awareness
Most individuals are aware that heart disease is the number one killer in America. In fact, according to the CDC, it takes the life of one American every 30 seconds. But is knowing that enough for people to take preventive steps to protect their own heart? Sadly, the statistics say no. According to the American Heart Association, millions of people aren’t even aware of the symptoms of a heart attack! Unfortunately, when it comes to their heart health, consumers may be skipping a beat.
Here are a few important ways healthcare providers and marketers can help individuals get the information they need.
Provide the numbers.
People are more likely to know their financial numbers than their healthcare numbers. According to a Cleveland Clinic study, “nearly half of those surveyed knew their bank account balance, while just 18 percent could state their body mass index (BMI) and only 38 percent knew their blood pressure.” While most individuals can rattle off their age, weight and height, it is their heart numbers that are equally important to know, especially as they age. Additionally, according to the Cleveland Clinic, “While many people did know the risk factors, less knew the healthy range for them. Only four in ten Americans knew a healthy blood pressure reading was less than 120/80.”
What patients need to know is that heart disease can be avoided, or at least managed, if patients are aware of the numbers and risks. However, these numbers must be easily accessible. By breaking down the barriers to gain this information, healthcare providers can help patients who may otherwise be hesitant to engage with the health system. AdventHealth has done just this with HEARTaware, a free, online heart disease risk assessment tool used to help patients identify their heart disease risk. Following the completion of the risk assessment is the option to complete a preventive cardiac screening. The one-hour screening and follow-up consultation, conducted by a nurse or physician assistant, provides the patient with necessary numbers, risk factors, additional testing needs and potential lifestyle changes.
Provide the facts.
As a healthcare professional, or even an individual who is familiar with heart disease, knowing the heart health facts may seem like common sense. But, for most individuals, the information is not well known and can be hard to understand.
The Cleveland Clinic’s study showed concerning misunderstandings of heart health including:
- Only a quarter of Americans know that HDL is the “good” cholesterol.
- Most individuals don’t know the leading cause of death for people with diabetes is heart disease.
- While half of respondents are aware BMI is important, only a quarter know that a person is deemed overweight with a BMI of 25 or more.
AdventHealth uses their HEARTaware online risk assessment to educate patients not only on their individual health numbers but also on heart health facts that all people should be aware of regardless of their risk factors. The information the health system provides includes:
- Evidence suggests that infections in the mouth, such as periodontal (gum) diseases, may increase the risk of heart disease.
- A woman’s risk for coronary artery disease increases after menopause. Studies have shown that the majority of heart attacks in women occur in the 10 years after menopause.
- African Americans have more severe high blood pressure than Caucasians and a higher risk of heart disease. Heart disease risk is also higher among Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian Americans.
Provide the tools.
The symptoms of heart disease can easily go undetected, which is why preventive screening tools are so important to the public. Comprehensive screenings can help manage, if not prevent, heart disease. If conditions are detected, advanced diagnostic tools can be used to identify treatment to potentially save lives.
Examples of screening tools that are provided by AdventHealth include calcium scoring and peripheral vascular screening. These screenings use advanced technologies like computed tomography (CT) and ultrasounds to detect abnormalities within the arteries such as calcium deposits and other blockages that could cause a major heart event.
While providing patients with accurate numbers, facts and tools is important for health systems, it is even more important to make patients aware of what they offer. That’s where healthcare marketers come in. Marketers are able to communicate the benefits of knowing your heart health and the importance of getting screened to a targeted audience in the most effective ways. Because consumers may not be actively seeking preventive cardiology screenings and information, our job as healthcare marketers is to meet consumers where they are. Through engagement planning and media placement, we can identify where consumers are spending their time and reach them there through media placement. In addition, marketers are able to craft a message that resonates with consumers, driving them to take action. Additionally, it is important for healthcare marketers to ensure the cardiology service line campaign is aligned with the overall health system’s marketing strategy.
Having a healthcare marketing partner to help create a cardiology awareness campaign has the potential to not only improve the overall health of the community but also drive service line volume to a health system.
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