Archive for the healthcare Category

Typographic Design Owes a Lot to Steve

SteveJobs at Stanford University, speaks of how he put typography into the MAC

No, not his graduation, he never graduated college.

But in the first of three vignettes he tells how he dropped out, sat in at a campus calligraphy courses and, years later, plugged all his knowledge of font and legibility, kerning and small caps… into the Mac. Then Microsoft copied it and since then we have had beautifully texted pages. Steve’s sense of typography was installed into the design principles of our generation’s previously type-challenged technology.

Thank you, Mr. Jobs.

Graphic design: things that can be clicked.

Remember that old quiz show, ‘Pyramid’? It really brought in the ‘things that can be …’ categories.
What could be more ‘clickable’ than a mouse? Another of those design ideas that just works and then… Designer: get out of the way. This was for the home page of the Ontario Long Term Care Association and clicking it access a host of learning pages. Love working for the group… they understand big, legible type as do seniors everywhere.
The idea that seniors are not adequately represented on the internet is increasingly a thing of the past as net savvy boomers reach their senior years.

Graphic Design: Button, button, what’s in a button?

When the internet first caught my eye, in 1994, I struggled with the slow speeds and the evident prejudice against graphics. I understood this, as the net was a slow beast ‘in those days’ and we all, as visual people, tried to get more for less. Narrow pages and little buttons. I resisted.
I thought why press a button that looked like an envelope that evidently meant ’email’. That’s exactly what email wasn’t! THERE’S NO ENVELOPES IN EMAIL!!! Or stamps with wavy lines. Or pens with little fingers. Why not, I thought, print the word ’email’?? And with a wink and a nod toward my typographic roots, I began producing typographic finding aids for the web.
For my efforts I was told, ‘You are not an iconographic designer.’ And web designers ran off with all sorts of little images of icons that ran, smiled, and vibrated. Here’s one of my efforts that’s clear, that promotes the message and branding of the impending document, and is rather large as buttons go. It was made to draw attention within a busy page. You decide. Don’t try pressing the button, although I’m betting you want to. :-)

OLTCA addresses the looming crisis in long term care.

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. In this case, a straightforward messaging piece for the Ontario Long Term Care Association, the designer (me) simply states the case and then quietly withdraws. There are some subjects that are difficult to render, that resists the natural urge to ‘design’ and long term care may be one of them. There is simply no way to lighten the tone without appearing to undermine the somber message, slight it or gloss over the rather tragic messages contained within.

Graphic Design: Why I love type.

When I designed this brochure for the Aurora Cultural Centre it was the pictures that came with the opportunity that struck a chord. And what could be better? A sunny day in a beautiful town in front of a minor architectural wonder. These images do not come without a bit of reverence. Storybook, perhaps.
But the shots told the story of how much fun one could have and be a bit of help to the community too. There’s certainly no lack of things to do and things that just have to be done in a venture like the Centre. Volunteers are needed in every capacity. For me, the task became one of emphasizing an already great story with typography – and then, as a designer – getting out of the way.
I’m always looking at new fonts and the extreme narrowness of this ‘grotesque’ caught my eye. I thought it might be interesting to throw in some colour as well. So in came the blues and teals. The basic beiges and sage in the background mirror the interior of the newly-renovated Centre.
As these brochures must literally shout out louder than the competition on brochure stands around town, most of the pertinent information must be contained in the top few inches.

AURORA CULTURAL CENTRE Membership Brochure, designed by Mike Beard, Graphic Design in Barrie, 36 Harrison Crescent, Barrie, Ontario. L4N 7R9

Three simple pages telling three simple related stories. Three ways to enhance your experience with the Aurora Cultural Centre.

The Leading Edge of Healthcare

As broadband and mobile access spreads, more people have the ability – and increasingly, the habit – of sharing what they are doing or thinking with other like-minded internet citizens. In health care this translates to people tracking their workout routines, posting reviews of their medical treatments and raising awareness about certain health conditions.
These are not yet mainstream activities, but there are pockets of highly-engaged patients and caregivers who are taking an active role in tracking and sharing what they have learned. Again, check out The Social Life of Health Information by Samantha Fox from Pew Internet. “I know, and I want to share my knowledge” is the leading edge of health care.

The Default Setting for People with Health Questions

Just one of many enlightening conclusions of this study is that most of the people looking for health information on social sites is asking for another, ie a caregiver or relative. But social media is not typically where one might look for health information. If you want to find out who is searching for health lessons online take a look at The Social Life of Health Information by Samantha Fox from Pew Internet. “I don’t know, but I can try to find out” is the default setting for people with health questions

Healthcare for seniors. Refreshed. Re-designed.

I have had the distinct pleasure to design this annual report and to refresh the brand of the preeminent long term care association in Canada, in the process refocusing on the people, the caregivers behind the scenes.
I originally wrote the tagline, WE ARE LONG TERM CARE IN ONTARIO to refer to the organization as they had over 475 members and a cross section of all long term care providers in the province, representing the entire sector. But in the next year, the line came to refer to the caregivers themselves, as the face(s) of long term care. Click to see the pdf: high res lowres

From Post War, to Baby Boomers, then Pepsi Generation. Now we’re Generation Alzheimer’s.

< Our disease? Get the ‘Generation Alzheimer’s: the defining disease of the baby boomer’ report.

With each new conversation with another my age the inevitable topics come up, ‘How are your parents doing?”

What follows is typically an exchange of stories, sometimes in the early stages, moments of trepidation, like last week when one mother asked her 50 year old son when it was that he started wearing glasses. The response was, “in eleventh grade”. That would have been about 5 years ago in my mother’s case. Today I learn that she’s in virtual lock down and may be reading the same page in the same book over and over – alone in her room.

This is our disease. Breathe deeply. Own it. More later.

Ernst & Young Sees Big Pharma Embrace Healthcare Innovation, Playing Catch-up to Patients Driving Social Media

Paris, 15 February 2011 – Pharmaceutical companies are dramatically increasing their investments in new and innovative offerings to meet the demands of a patient-empowered, data-driven, outcomes-focused future in health care. In the last year alone, pharmaceutical company investment in smart phone apps, educational websites, social media platforms, wireless devices and other programs increased 78%, as companies embrace a role that goes far beyond developing and manufacturing products.

Taking action to build trust: The industry has seen its reputation decline in recent years.  But much of the activity in Pharma 3.0 will occur in communities such as social media, online networks, and patient and disease groups. These communities have their own rules of engagement – requiring openness, unbiased information, and a foundation of trust. Engaging with stakeholders in these Pharma 3.0 communities in ways that are transparent, unbiased and demonstrative of their intent to improve outcomes will go a long way toward helping rebuild trust. More from E&Y.
Follow Daniel Ghinn on Twitter.

1 in 5 find Social Media ‘healthful’

LINCOLN, Neb. – February 28, 2011 – One in five Americans use social media websites as a source of health care information, according to National Research Corp.’s Ticker survey, the largest, most up-to-date poll on consumer health care opinions and behaviors. Facebook topped the list, of course, but Twitter, which the organization calls ‘an emerging micro-blog site for business-to-consumer information’, came in 3rd, just behind YouTube. Amazing.

When asked about social media’s influence, 1 in 4 respondents said it was “very likely” or “likely” to impact their future health care decisions.

When asked about their level of trust in social media, 32 percent said “very high” or “high”, only 7.5 percent said “very low”.

Of all this I find the Twitter reference to be the most interesting. It’s not immediately apparent how a tweet limited to 140 characters can influence one’s health decision, but as a ‘point-to-article’ and ‘follow-the-guru’ informer, its influence in healthcare is now undeniable.

In true ‘follow-the-guru’ fashion, I submit and thank my two Twitter informers for pointing me to the National Research findings, Daniel Ghinn @engagementstrat (Healthcare Engagement Strategy Awards) and Jackie Cohen @Jackie_Cohen (All Facebook All The Time). Thanks go as well to blogger, Natalie Bourre, of Marketing4Health fame for getting me onto the Healthcare Engagement Strategy Award site in the first place!

Best Engagement Through Video goes to Johnson & Johnson Health Channel on YouTube

Healthcare Engagement Strategy Awards 2010 – Award: Best Engagement Through Video –
Winner: Johnson & Johnson Health Channel on Youtube

This is simply one of the latest videos from this elegant source. Health Channel has everything: brand expansion; integrity; engagement; commitment not only to health and care overall but to building a substantial library on YouTube… all leading back to the brand.


Pfizer Canada is sharing its ‘Social Media Response Chart’ for those in doubt about how to respond to those questionable posts, emails and tweets. Originally designed by the US Army, the original flow chart sorts those identified as ‘trolls’, ‘ragers’ or simply ‘misguided’ from others who are simply ‘unhappy customer’s. From there the decision is made whether to respond and just what that appropriate response might be.

This is a worthwhile learning tool for newly formed corporate departments who must unify response patterns and coalesce around a single brand story in the face of a virtual onslaught presented by facebook, blogs, tweets – with more innovation and yes more opinions coming at them every day. Worth a peek at both the original and Pfizer Canada’s version at Natalie Bourre’s blog, Marketing4Health, if only as a starting point for your own charted corporate response recommendations.

‘AGING in PLACE’ options: threats to seniors residence marketers??

As more and more boomers face the prospect of their parents winding up in long term care, of course they are considering a fresh variety of products and technologies designed to allow seniors what can be frequently their most pressing desire: to stay out of long term care facilities.
This was certainly the case when my mother, already in stage two Alzheimer’s, revolted against her grown children at the prospect. We hid her keys and eventually the car battery. She literally had to have her fingers pried from the lampposts outside the residence, much to the chagrin of her eldest daughter. After she tried repeatedly to leave, she was placed in lockdown, where she has been ever since.
Seems everyone I run into that is even close to my age has these stories, some more remarkable than others. Few are pretty.
Given their undeniable ‘last stop’ reputation, many elderly parents dread the day they leave their home. They instantly become ‘patients’ not ‘parents’. If their sons and daughters can give them a graceful exit or no exit at all this goes a long way toward preserving dignity in one’s senior years.
Some of the options include seated stairclimbers, walk-in tub configurations, automatic help alerts, wide, accessible hallways & lower counters, a host of alternatives present themselves everyday on TV. It’s little wonder then, that marketers for long term care homes and retirement facilities view these options as not only alternatives to their sales solutions, but outright threats as identified in their SWOT marketing plans.
Read more at Art Carr’s blog
I quite like Mr. Carr’s take on this phenomenon, which is to view it as an advantage, surely to be addressed with care and respect.  “NO ONE likes to be reminded of their weaknesses – why should we expect a senior to be any different?” But facilities must install these features, because nowadays these questions pop up sooner rather than later in the sales conversation.

What? Super Bowl Ad Mocks Seniors? You decide.


Here’s a pet peeve: advertising that mistakes ‘dissing’ for ‘funny’. I have to admit my bias here, usually it’s the senior white male: old, hairy, stupid and fat, that is just so, so humorous. Somewhat aging men are (for sure!) the cause of every woe today and serve on TV as the butt of every joke. Think of these hilarious ads as loving tributes sent to us from our kids, the art directors. Here the message is only too obvious. ‘Let’s make our car look really young and fresh by ridiculing the very old and infirm.’

Okay, so it’s funny. And if you click the link below and read some of Michelle’s comments, you’ll see even some elderly patients thought it was a hoot. But do we have to sink to ridicule to sell a damn car? So sad for Chevy, for their Cruse and of course for GM – who should know better. Somewhere, I’m sure it’s being defended as ‘edgy’…

Thanks to Michelle Seitzer and her blog, Seniors for Living for zeroing inside this one.

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