Digital Best/Worst of Ebola

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In some sense, I see digital health when communicated via online or real time television as a version of marketing. Healthcare systems have a message to communicate to the masses in an efficient and understandable way. Additionally, the goal is to inform, which is the goal of marketing. Both marketing and healthcare are regulated, but ultimately have the same goal of getting consumers to act. Healthcare the goal is action related to person or public health outcomes. Marketing the focus being consumption of a product or service. So it is through the lense of marketing aka mass communication, that I looked at the best and worse of the Ebola crisis from a digital perspective.

Best Part

NIH and CDC both have been very active on social media engaging with the public regarding Ebola. This really assists the public in being able to get quality scientific based information about the disease. Additionally, they didn’t delay in discussing on social media what was happening even before the disease was brought to the US. Dr. Friedman from NIH has been very active on Twitter. His Twitter account is @DrFriedenCDC.

mHero is a mobile healthcare technology platform that assists healthcare workers in communicating across West Africa’s fragmented healthcare system. The mHero system can capture critical data and permits for better patient care coordination. The best part is that all this is happening in real time which is critical in the ever changing Ebola pandemic.

Cell phone digital data could stem the tide of Ebola. The digital health information gathered from the cell phones can assist health officials in understanding about the density of the area and the potential number infected. The digital health data captured from cell phones can assist with predicting where a virus outbreak might occur next.  Cell phone digital health data provides an excellent source of information about transportation patterns of populations when used in aggregate. This digital data when applied to historical data can give scientists’ a sense of where people may travel next, therefore permits them to proactively manage site of new Ebola outbreaks.

What’s App the social media app is forging into mhealth terrain via assisting with educating the public about Ebola along with ways to protect themselves. The information is distributed three times a day via the app. The information is presented in both French and English. Most importantly the information is accessible to those with or without a smartphone. One can just listen to the small downloadable digital data packets. The convergence of social media, digital, and public health being used to connect the community with timely life changing information is exciting. Kudo’s to Whats App!

Worst Part

American arrogance related to the US health system compared to other countries’ healthcare. America is a great place however we are human, so there are some short comings as can be expected with all healthcare systems. The US healthcare system market itself as providing world class healthcare superior to other countries. This is sadly another time that reveals not just the short comings in African countries healthcare system but ours as well. Many scientists have made comments about the nature of fragmentation and subpar system in Africa. However, we have had a few snafus in our management of patients and healthcare workers that treated the patient in Dallas that died.

I am a news junkie, but sadly, the news is one entity along with politicians contributing to most misinformation and bad approaches to managing the Ebola pandemic. The US news cycle is 24 hours/7 days a week, so there has been a great deal of stroking of the fears of the public regarding Ebola. The entire news media is the blame CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, etc. Politicians used the 24/7 news cycle to scare and inflame fears of the public via various tweets seen below. The flu and the growing obesity epidemic cause greater harm to Americans each year but are not very sexy to discuss.

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The last part that has me concerned is the American public’s approach to dealing with this disease. I understand that parents and adults are very concerned, which the American public should be, since Eboloa is a very serious disease. However, we have to be reasonable about how we treat others and potential patients. A woman from Africa in the Philadelphia Metro area was treated horribly because a health professional thought she might be an Ebola patient because of her ethnicity. We have to improve our health literacy and cultural sensitivity as a country.

Honorable mention to Facebook and Google, they are both focusing on assisting in providing the much needed funds to West African countries for Ebola. If you have the financial resources available, please contribute to either Facebook’s or Google’s initiative to support West Africa.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/fightebola

Google https://onetoday.google.com/fightebola

What good or bad have you seen come out of the Ebola epidemic from a digital perspective?

 

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Worst Side Effects of Being a Vegetarian

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The side effects that I am listing are manageable, but can be problematic if not addressed. Addressing these issues does require some adjustment of one’s lifestyle.  Many people including myself have experienced these issues however they can be overcome with a little bit of work.

1. “You will be moody.”

The truth of the matter you will because the combination of salt, fat, and sugar are a drug. When you eliminate them in combination with stopping the consumption of soda this will cause a tremendous impact to you physically. Sugar along with caffeine is a drug, so many individuals experience withdraws when eliminating them.

Solution: There is no one solution to this type of problem. An approach to manage the situation is gradually eliminating the salts, fats, and sugars. My advice would be starting with minimizing the soda consumed eventually stopping swapping it for a cup of coffee or for green/black tea. This would be a gradual process over a number of weeks. During those weeks, one would also try meditation and prayer along with swapping bad soda drinking behavior with something else such as a cardio workout.  The cardio workout can provide a natural “sugar high”.“You can’t eat out. What will you eat?”

2. “You can’t eat out. What will you eat?”

My favorite statement to friends and colleagues is the following: “Every restaurant makes a great salad”. Basically, it is hard to mess up putting some vegetables on a plate. However, vegetarian food has gone main stream. Philadelphia a city once known for its cheesesteaks and obesity has a booming vegetarian restaurant scene. Additionally, if you visit a Subway or some Burger Kings they have a vegetarian patty meat substitute.

Solution: There are a couple of solutions. The tried and true salad is always a great go to. Next, sometimes it may be best to eat beforehand so that you are not stuck if the menu isn’t vegetarian friendly.  A tactic that I employ sometimes is being a flexitarian when I am out meaning that I will eat baked seafood. Lastly, it may be required to request a restaurant that you know has some vegetarian friendly items. You must do what makes you the most comfortable.

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3. “You will be sick.” Or “Some foods will make you sick to your stomach.”

This is a slightly tricky one. The general idea is if you eliminate some foods from your diet, your body will create a new baseline without those foods. The human body is big chemical reaction that is trying to keep things in balance. When you make changes to your body, for example change your diet, then that the biological/ecological systems in your body change.  As a result, if you go back to eating chicken after 4 year absence, for example you could have all types of digestion problems. Additionally, the mere smell of it may make you sick. The sickness described may be indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. Many people who decide to no longer be a vegetarian power through the sickness to return to a standard omnivore diet.  My advice would be to ease back into it over the course of many months, so as to cause your body the least amount of harm.

Solution: You can go all crazy and double down on meat to get back to an omnivore diet.  Another alternative would be to gradually start eating meat in small portions weekly and work back up to a daily diet of meat.  You have to do what is best for your health, patience, and schedule.

 

4. “You will feel like a Mack Truck hit you during your period. You will feel like you could sleep for 12 hours a day.”

Vegetarians need to really provide their bodies the necessary vitamins, protein sources, and supplements to fuel themselves. Women need to be particularly careful as a result of experiencing their monthly menstruation cycle.  PMS coupled with the dip in iron related to that time of the month can create quite a challenge to keep one’s energy level up. Wish I had a simple solution; however I am still researching the issue.

Solution:  The approach that I have embraced is a high potency women’s multi-vitamin, B complex ( a methy type of B) supplement, and rest as needed. After the first day, the tiredness seems to lessen with energy levels going back to normal. Check out GNC  for options as well as a vegetarian multi-vitamin called  Vitamin Code at the Vitamin Shoppe. Sadly, I am learning that all vitamins and supplements are not created equal, so be careful what you buy for the best results.

These post is not meant to scare anyone just really inform you. Also you may not experience any of the things listed. However, it is my goal to create a balanced discussion about the vegetarian lifestyle. These “Worst Side Effects” are very manageable and may not happen to you. As always,  I am rooting for you! Big Smile.

Okay readers, do you think this post was realistic or  provided any helpful information? Please let me know your thoughts.

Happy Weekend to you!

Lisa

How To Hire A Marketing Consultant

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This post was created because of some interactions with potential clients and viewing posts for work by employers seeking marketing assistance. It is my goal to assist employers seeking either consultants or freelancers to feel a little more prepared for working with them via this post.

Preparation is important

You must really understand why and what you are hiring a consultant to perform. If you only need someone to post on social media i.e. put pictures on Pinterest, which is a very narrow skill set and require only a few hours a week. Conversely, if you need someone to manage the development and execution of a marketing plan, then that is very different. A person needs to work with you mid-long term effort to perform such a job. Will this be a long term or short term engagement? Social media marketing and digital strategy are ongoing long term initiatives that require a great deal of work as well as regular maintenance.

A Business Plan

As wacky as this may sound, you need a business plan to effectively market either a product or a service. You should live and breathe your product, its competitors, and primary customer target. The business plan should outline the dreaded financials, which are needed. I say dreaded because numbers along with ghosts, taxes, and bad hair days are equally feared by most. The financials determine how to price your product, when you cover fixed costs, determine the break-even point, and determine your marketing budget. Simply put marketing costs money. The ads that you see online in Facebook and Twitter cost, therefore financial resources need to be allocated to it.

A Product/Service

Having a defined product or service developed, prototyped, tested, and if possible viewed by focus group is critical. Please don’t contact a marketing consultant digital or otherwise, if you have not resolved what the product is, how it works, and tested it thoroughly. Many businesses are so hyper focused on their website and social media presence yet there is no product/service fully developed to market. Customers don’t want to buy a service/product that has been poorly produced. This means you will be creating a bad reputation for yourself. First impressions matter with customers. Marketing consultant needs a finalized product or service to be effective.

Manage Your Ego

Once you have done all of the above, then you are ready to connect with a consultant. Manage your ego is a critical part of being successful when working with a consultant/freelancer. You have to work with them and let then consultant you on best practices and approaches. In the beginning, the consultant should outline their scope of work, deadlines, and milestones that you both agree upon. You should have a weekly call at a minimum to understand work being performed. Also managing online/offline marketing is a lot of work. Large companies like US Air, Ford, etc. have a whole dept dedicated to social media. Similarly, a company would have separate dedicated departments to each of the following: content management, digital marketing, mobile marketing, search marketing, and digital analytics.  Therefore, it is easier to let the marketing professional take the lead, since marketing is quite complicated. I would never say that business owner doesn’t need to know marketing, but your knowledge is extremely limited compared to that list of departments full of experts. Conversely, the marketer should respect and appreciate your expertise.

Realistic Expectations

This may be my most important piece of advice. Have realistic expectations and only believe consultants that provide as such. On the employer side, it is not a realistic to expect a marketing consultant to deliver 5,000 twitter followers in one week. Similarly, a college student can be a great on campus representative selling your product, blogging in a supervised way, or creating beautiful marketing materials; however there are limits to what a college student with limited experience can assist with. However, there are extremely talented college students, but be cautious. The consultant should be able to provide you a previous work sample, have marketing field experience, outline of their proposed work products, and tentative dates for deliverables.

 

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Embrace the Process

Marketing is similar to most things in life, it is a process. The creation of marketing plan will not create immediate customers for you. Marketing is part science and part art. Science part is trial and error in a systematic way to create results with the goal of impacting your business’ bottom line. There are definitely some best practices related to marketing. The consultant should outline a plan, meet with you weekly, and provide weekly reports related to their efforts. The results will not always be upward or bring immediate revenue to your business; however there should be an explanation along with next steps, if a problem occurs.

It is a Relationship

People market to people. People hire other people. Try to pick someone with good credentials, previous success, and most importantly it should be someone that you can have a good working relationship with. This is especially important because marketing is a process. You need to feel confident and comfortable in that person’s ability to work with you through the marketing process. It is my hope that the points listed above are helpful for those seeking any type of marketing consultant.

 

What advice do you think employers need when hiring a consultant?

Have a Happy Tuesday!