PR View by Lynn Hanessian

The consumer has arrived in health. UnitedHealth Group reported in December that it had lost 315,000 customers due to poor customer service. It's time to think about the implications of meeting the expectations of today's customer within the structures that bind us as health communicators.

 The ready availability of new technologies and 24/7 modes of communication herald an age of transparency and real-time information demands. Customers want information and they want it now.

 No longer are they waiting for a newspaper to arrive in the morning. They've already received it, on topics that interest them, via their electronic device of choice. As more health decisions and related costs are deposited on their shoulders, relevant information must be available to help with decisions and ultimately transactions. In this environment, it is no longer enough to provide traditional education and media tools tweaked up for electronic delivery. 

At the same time, traditional media is evolving rapidly. The rise of health blogs at numerous outlets allows traditional media to quickly chime in on the issue of the day, even if it's found in stories appearing in competing publications.

 It is our responsibility to deliver health customers the information about our educational offerings in the channels and formats they want. We must engage the legal and regulatory community so that we are all working together on helping consumers to manage their health optimally. This means correctly understanding diagnoses and treatment options while ensuring the health care provider is front and center as well. Central to this is building a dialogue with journalists and ensuring that we are responsive to their needs for more engaging digital content and the ever relevant pitch and storyline.

Lynn Hanessian is CEO of Zeno Group

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