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You're Sick. It's Serious.

The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine has just released a new video called "You're Sick.  It's Serious."

I think it's well done effort to brand palliative care in a constructive manner.  This is the sort of social marketing campaign our field needs to counter that-phrase-that-must-not-be-named.

I wonder how they ultimately chose to go with the animated word design.  What makes palliative care work is really the people, and I guess my only critique would be that this video is strong on message and information content, but doesn't feature the human interaction that is so essential to our work.

They created similar versions about other illnesses, such as dementia, but as far as I can tell they just replace the slide that says "You're Sick.  It's Serious" with "You're Sick.  It's Dementia."

Once you're done viewing the video, go vote for GeriPal for best clinical weblog!  We're neck and neck with the renal fellow network.  Voting closes on Sunday at midnight EST.

by: Alex Smith


Eric Widera said…
Hmmm... I know it is for the PalliativeDoctors website but it still feels weird to see such a focus on the doctor and not the interdisclinary team. No mention of social work, nursing, chaplaincy, or psychology.
Alex and Eric ... thanks for promoting the new AAHPM video. One of AAHPM's key strategic goals is to increase awareness of the medical specialty of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Like other organizations in our field, we work to advance knowledge, access and understanding of hospice and palliative care. Much of this work is done together across disciplines.

The video is an extension of the Academy's messaging about what physicians in hospice and palliative medicine do. It talks about working as part of a team which is always important to emphasize.

Using words as opposed to images was intentional. The creative concept was to present our core message in a unique way ... engaging viewers through a written story as opposed familiar and predictable images.

We've received a great deal of positive feedback since the video was posted about 24 hours ago. Some have also expressed concern that it is too focused on physicians. It's creating conversation and buzz in the field but more importantly, the public is viewing it and learning how to access palliative care. And at the end of the day, that truly is the goal.
Thanks for posting this Alex. I was part of the work group at AAHPM that worked on this video (but am speaking for myself not the Academy).

I agree with Steve's points. For me one of the important points was to try something different than soft music, soft focus on older people holding hands, and doctors nodding sympathetically. Some of those images (which you will find many on YouTube if you search for 'hospice') are just so cliché and basically ineffective. I think we need to be bold in our efforts if we are ever going to be heard in this cacophony that is 24/7 hyper social media.

Kinetic Typography is the actual name for this type of videography if anyone is interested. And The Girl Effect is probably one of the earliest examples of using this in awareness campaigns.

As far as the focus, I think there are plenty of examples in everything that we in palliative medicine do (blog posts, journal articles, presentations, care) where we emphasize individual disciplines more than the team. And that is OK. The team is important and the individuals who make up the team are important. But just because we mention one doesn't mean we think any less of the others. Palliative medicine teams have some of the most horizontal hierarchy in all of medicine.

I think it would be great if this inspires more videos to be created with new ways to tell the story of all members of the team. If anyone wants to make one for any other discipline I would be happy to contribute some ideas.
Meryl Selig said…
Good intent from the team that created this campaign: define the specialty of palliative medicine. I'm a hospice & palliative care volunteer; my professional career was in marketing & communications.
The questions that come to mind:

1. What are the demographics/social profiles of the intended "target?" Who are you aiming to reach?

2. Do you think that attempting to "intellectually" define the role of the PC specialist will break down the emotional barriers to acceptance of palliative care?

3. How will you measure the success of this effort?

I'm a great fan of The Girl Effect, both its message and the way it's delivered (use of kinetic typography.) However, in the case of TGE, the goal is to inspire people to care about the plight and potential for girls in developing societies. It is not about family members. They also use images of real people to augment the starkness of the k.t. technique.

I assume that the goal of this campaign is to educate people who are either patients or the patient's close family or friends.

Influencing people to make decisions that personally affect their welfare (or family members') requires more nuanced form and content than simply replicating the wonderful and acclaimed Girl Effect campaign. Changing attitudes and behavior vis a vis palliative care requires a more complex and subtle approach than attempting to simply define the clinical specialty.

It's ironic, as the palliative care physicians I work with are consistently among the most sensitive, caring, thoughtful, warm and engaging people I've ever met.

This stark piece captures none of that. I do NOT advocate sappy, clicheed images of geriatric patients, Hallmark-y imagery or melodramatic music. However, I hope that successive campaigns focus on the selling point, the reason-why , real heart of the issue: the humanity, compassion and respect for the patient (and family) that defines palliative care.

Will this well-intended creation motivate people to understand and therefore consider palliative care for a loved one?
Anonymous said…
This "worded" case for palliative care is creative and well presented but will only reach a small segment of the population. Population and language diversity presents significant challenges in health care. More visual-pictorial imagery and a broader approach, with representation of the diverse members of the interdisciplinary health care team and families involved with palliative care would strengthen the case.
Gail Austin Cooney MD said…
I saw this for the first time today and think that it does a fabulous job of telling our story in a new and engaging way. It will start a conversation and I believe that conversation is essential to extending our reach. Kudos to the AAHPM for reaching out through social media, once again keeping our field at the cutting edge of communication!
Tasha Beauchamp said…
I like the piece very much and have tweets and Facebook posts planned for next week to get the word out. The style borrowed from The Girl Effect is bold and somewhat edgy, but you are trying to get people to move and change. Edgy can do that. I found that the shift to the Palliative Care Tree provided an emotional relief that mirrors the relief/solace of palliative care.

What I would love to see next is a version that targets the family caregivers. As Pew Internet and American Life data show, the patients aren't online, it's their adult daughters and sons (generally Boomer age).

Based on my work, and research, with family caregivers, issues that would resonate for them involve feeling powerless in the face of suffering; feeling hopeless in the face of progressive decline; feeling frustrated and angry with sibling conflicts; feeling tired and stressed with multiple demands on their time and energy.

I suspect that a focus on "Dad is sick. It's serious." with benefits to family members might generate even more buzz and engagement.

A thought. Great job AAHPM!

Sara Perry said…
Overall, I like this very much and think it will be beneficial in getting out the message about Palliative Medicine. As a hospice social worker for over 20 years, I also have the concern that the interdisciplinary team got short shrift. But nothing is perfect, and I hope there will be other messages like this that highlight other important pieces of information.
I voted for it and will refer to it when talking about palliative medicine.
Recent research in palliative care journals (not to mention day to day experience!) has shown that John Q. Public doesn't know anything about palliative care. It seems to me that anything that gets the word out in a positive way is beneficial to all. Sure, we'd all like to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of palliative care, (see, I call it palliative care, not palliative medicine), but the public expects us to work together in all specialties. Professional organizations are intended to advocate for their members and their specialty. I don't have any problem with that, as long as it promotes and doesn't disparage any other discipline. I belong to HPNA and I expect them to advocate for nurses and patients. Buzz is good. It educates us all. Creative spots like this one are not and are notintended to be the final word. Let's keep promoting the field and the patients. Tom Quinn, APRN
LeighSW said…
I worked in hospice and palliative care as a social worker for 5 years and now work at a children's hospital. The hospital's palliative care program is so different from my former employer- it's literally just a PC physician, who then links patients and families to other needed disciplines and specialties, just as the video shows. I can see how some people might feel slighted by their discipline's omission but the video does note that PC physicians work with a team and link people to the services they need. The highlight is on the doctor here, the gateway to the team. The general public doesn't usually know what a palliative care program entails but they do know that a doctor will be involved. From there, they learn more about the services they'll receive and get to see the exemplary teamwork in action. I think it would be great if all the disciplines could get their own video eventually! The video seems like it will do a good job of getting people to ask more questions about palliative care. It held my attention and is provoking interesting conversation.
Patrice Villars said…
It’s good to hear from everyone and particularly from Steve and Christian who have been most directly involved. What I like about this video is that it beautifully redefines “palliative care” and successfully separates it from the dreaded “D” word. The video portrays palliative medicine as individualized, caring, and holistic care. What I don’t like about this is the impression that the Palliative physician does it alone. I see HPC as a political, health care, and cultural movement that we are all in together. To have a public message that does not mention the multiple disciplines and volunteers who have dedicated themselves for decades with and without physician colleagues feels like an unfortunate oversight. Additionally, many PC services are run solely by nurses, social workers and/or Chaplains, so what happens when that newly educated public asks for a Palliative physician? I agree with Christian that “Palliative medicine teams have some of the most horizontal hierarchy in all of medicine”, so why leave that out when it comes to educating the public? And yes, many there are many other forums that are discipline specific, none (that I am aware of) that specifically targets the global public. If we are in this together (which I truly believe we are), then let’s be in this together. Thank you GeriPal, PalliMed, AAHPM and others for providing an open forum for discussion.
mikebevins said…
I agree this video is a positive contribution. I've been amazed at how many patients/families find me (a palliative care doc) through the internet. Not to pick nits, but the change in point of view partway through the video threw me off. Most of it is second person (YOU are sick, palliative med docs can improve YOUR quality of life, etc), but one very important line switches point of view, i.e. palliative docs "listen to patients and align their treatments with what's important to them." Some viewers may be unclear to whom "their" and "them" are referring. Do the doctors align the doctors' treatments with what's important to the doctors, or with what's important to the patients? I don't think this in any way detracts from the overall message, but attending to what's important to patients (and families!) is often what sets us apart.
Great comments all, so many I am not sure where to start in replying. Meryl's comments seem to need the most discussion as they get to the heart of the different approach used here.

I think an important point to remember is this is an attempt to get outside the box of our usual approaches. There may be some pain from the growth of boundaries and lessons learned along the way, but we will never make an impact before our first touch of a patient unless we try to get the advocacy ahead of things. I hope these videos are one of many new creative endeavors that tell the stories about all the different aspects of palliative care, but I do realize that not every story will be all inclusive in audience or in message. And that is the tricky part.

Leigh and Thomas,

Thanks for your words and insight on this subject.


Thanks for adding your input here, as your initial comments on YouTube were the ones that concerned me the greatest. Physicians as a discipline are relatively new to the scene in palliative care tis true. This video highlights the impact of specialty certification/expertise and the growth of physician involvement in the last decade which has been an important milestone in how palliative medicine is viewed by the health care community.

We all want better training for all of our disciplines. This is emphasizing one of those disciplines. I too am glad for having this forum online here, on YouTube and Pallimed.

(If you have not seen there is an equally rich discussion going on Palliemd.)

Can I get a shout-out for social media?
Patrice Villars said…
Social Media kicks a#@. See you at the Social Media lunchtime forum at HPNA/AAHPM on Thursday.

And come to "Conscious Conversations: Managing Conflict and Collaboration in Interprofessional Palliative Care Teams" on Saturday at 10. (pretty timely I must say)

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