A marketing agency and digital media company are raising funds to produce a podcast about the challenges that people in rural America face accessing care — and the effort has caught the White House’s attention.
The proposed podcast would be part of a multimedia campaign, Heartbreak in America’s Heartland — Crisis in Rural America, that aims to raise awareness of “the complexities and the issues that face the rural communities when it comes to getting healthcare,” said Ritesh Patel, senior partner of global digital health for agency Finn Partners, which is working on the campaign pro bono.
The podcast, which would be produced by OffScrip Health, would cost between $2 million and $3 million, but the group behind it is seeking to raise between $5 million and $10 million to fund the larger campaign, said Matthew Zachary, OffScrip cofounder and CEO.
The effort is part of a coalition featuring nonprofits dedicated to fighting cancer, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Stupid Cancer, a nonprofit founded by Zachary, who had pediatric brain cancer. Stupid Cancer supports people affected by adolescent and young adult cancer.
“Most Americans do not know they have the power to activate their voice and be invested In legislative, federal, institutional, operational, social, anthropologic change,” said Zachary, who produced a podcast about cancer survivors. The goal of the new podcast is “giving people empowerment that they don’t even know they have, by showcasing very specific voices, very intentionally.”
Compared to people who live in urban areas, rural Americans are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency attributed the disparities to issues such as long travel distances to specialty and emergency care and exposure to unique environmental hazards. Rural residents have higher rates of cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and obesity and are less likely to wear seatbelts.
One of the solutions the coalition hopes to advance is increasing high-speed internet access in rural areas, which would help people receive telehealth services more easily, Patel said.
The White House mentioned the campaign in a statement last month about the next phase of Cancer Moonshot, the Biden administration’s effort to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50%.
Zachary said he captured the administration’s attention because of his connections to people working for Cancer Moonshot who previously worked for digital health startups. Patel also met last month with members of Congress to solicit funding through appropriations bills, he said.
The campaign also hopes to receive funding from corporate partners and nonprofits such as the American Heart Association.
This article originally appeared on PRWeek US.