Laura Koski

Three ways to use health care observances to your advantage

By Laura Koski on October 28, 2016

Observances, observances everywhere, but which do you promote?

If you’re on Facebook at all, ever, you’ve probably seen posts announcing the daylong celebrations of seemingly innocuous things. I’m talking about Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day (November 7), Hug an Australian Day (April 26) and Everything You Do Is Right Day (March 16, though for some of us, it’s celebrated year-round. Ha!).

Health care isn’t immune to these types of observances. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion began compiling and publishing health observances in 1982 and since then, health care marketers have been struggling to find meaningful ways to observe everything from Kidney Month to Hand Hygiene Day.

That’s easier said than done. I love a reason to celebrate as much as the next person, but so many of these observances are promoted aimlessly, clogging the halls and Facebook pages of health systems without making a true connection with the organizations’ brands.

Now, I’m not in any way saying that these causes aren’t worthwhile – they are! But brands are built through a thousand small gestures and one of those gestures is shown through the collection of causes and observances your health system promotes. The days, weeks and months your system endorses should reflect a direct connection to your brand. Does your hospital have an optometry service line? If not, it probably doesn’t make sense to promote Women’s Eye Health & Safety Month (April). If you’re an urban health system, there may not be much value in promoting National Farm Safety & Health Week (September).

By all means, promote observances that make sense for your organization, but make sure they’re backed by solid strategy. Here are three ways to use health care observances to your advantage.

  • Find observances that align with your strategic priority programs. Is increasing primary care volumes your organization’s focus? Get creative by tying primary care messages to observances such as Women’s Health Week (May), Men’s Health Week (June) or Healthy Aging Month (September). Chances are there’s an observance (or two, or three) related to your priority programs – use them!
  • Promote the observances that reflect your strengths. Highlight the events that reflect something your organization does well. Do you have an awesome cardiology team? Incorporate their work into activities during Heart Month (February). Have your neurosurgeons made advances in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia? Highlight their efforts during Neurosurgical Awareness Month (August), which will focus specifically on the disease for 2017’s observance.
  • Make sure the observances you do recognize are recognized well. If you promote a health care-related day, week or month, make sure you’ve thought through how you’ll execute. If you’ve selected an observance that aligns with your system’s priorities, develop messages that can be shared across multiple channels. Planning ahead gives you the time and resources to do the observance – and your organization – justice.

Being judicial with the health care observances your organization promotes will ensure that those you do recognize will have a greater impact. And that’s cause for celebration.

What health observances does your health system celebrate? What’s the strangest observance you’ve seen promoted?

Laura Koski is a Healthcare Marketing Specialist at Core Creative.