Health Academy Year in Review

Looking back on ‘13, there was no need for any triskaidekaphobia, as it turned out to be a “lucky” year after all for healthcare PR practitioners. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum regarding the Affordable Care Act, you have to admit it was a boon to our industry. There has never been a greater demand or more crying need for healthcare public relations counsel. We often profit from chaos as healthcare communicators by trying to make sense of it for the audiences we serve.

2013 was also a particularly good year for PRSA Health Academy, the second largest professional section among the Public Relation Society of America’s 22,000 members. We held our first ever annual conference in Indianapolis, because of the area’s strong support of the Life Sciences industry, and gained more than 60 new members from that one event. We supported some compelling local events around the country, such as a collaboration with PRSA LA on the Affordable Care Act, as well as greatly enhanced our newsletter as well as both our audio and video Podcast series.

I have a strong suspicion 2014 may be an even better year for PRSA Health Academy and healthcare PR practitioners as the economy continues to recover. As there will be even more focus on electronic health records and the IT side of healthcare in general, Health Academy is uniquely positioned for the future, with Joyce Lofstrom, MS, APR, taking over the Chair’s spot. Joyce is Senior Director of Communications for HIMSS, whose mission is better health through information technology. HIMSS is a global, cause-based, not-for-profit organization focused on better health through information technology (IT). HIMSS leads efforts to optimize health engagements and care outcomes using information technology, a goal that aligns very well with what we try to do with health information as healthcare public relations practitioners.

One of the highlights of 2014 will no doubt be our annual conference May 7-9, 2014 in Washington, DC, “New Realities, New Rules: Sharpening Your Competitive Edge in Health Care PR.”

Among the keynotes will be Ezra Klein, columnist for The Washington Post and Bloomberg, and who oversees Wonkblog at The Washington Post. He is a regular contributor and policy analyst for MSNBC, where his commentary focuses on, as Klein describes it, “domestic and economic policy-making, as well as the political system that’s constantly screwing it up.”

We’ll also be lucky to hear from David Meerman Scott, the marketing strategist and bestselling author of eight books, including three international bestsellers; advisor to emerging companies; and a professional speaker on topics including marketing, leadership, and social media. Scott’s book “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” opened people’s eyes to the new realities of marketing and public relations on the Web.

There’s going to be a wide variety of excellent and though provoking break-out sessions, case studies from Silver Anvil Award-winning health campaigns, key lessons from leading healthcare brands and organizations like Aetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Pfizer, Astellas Pharmaceuticals, American Cancer Society, CDC as well as leading healthcare agencies like Fleishman-Hillard, Spectrum Science, GolinHarris, Bliss PR and emerging ones like PadillaCRT, to name just a few of the participants.

And as we look to the end of 2014, Candace Steele Flippin, APR, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Sunovion will be taking Joyce’s place as Chair, as we transition from a focus on the importance of IT healthcare communications to leadership from a leading executive in the pharmaceutical industry, and geographically one based in New England, another important geographic hub of our business, to better serve our public relations community.

It has been a great honor to serve the year as Chair of Health Academy. It has been humbling to be elected to this position and I hope to continue to support the practice of healthcare communications as well as the general public relations profession in the future.