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Ice Buckets Don’t Drive Long Term Change


Jason Berek-Lewis
Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups [at]health


Sergey Brin, Larry Page from Google get iced. Image courtesy of

Why has the Ice Bucket Challenge been a huge success? It is a laser focused, brand new, easily relatable, highly visual 'stunt' that breaks through the noise - RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.

But, like so many of these 'viral stunts', the impact of raising awareness will dissipate very, very quickly. Raising fleeting awareness is one thing - but where is the long term engagement strategy for these campaigns?

Getting a huge spike in social media followers, social media shares and web traffic is a great outcome, but driving sustainable, ongoing and long term funding/ behaviour changes is quite something else. I'd like to see some hard data around outcomes - ie money raised for research, corporate partners/ sponsors secured, volunteers signed up and engaged. I don't disagree with these sorts of tactics and I don’t for a minute begrudge the campaign for its successes against short term metrics - I congratulate them for being daring and innovative - but I believe the healthcare communications, marketing, PR, social media industry needs to come up with longer term strategies too.


What the Ice Bucket Challenge Tells Us About The State Of Healthcare Marketing


Old ways of doing healthcare marketing are stuffed. In 2014 it’s not enough to hire a ‘celebrity’ to do a community service announcement on radio, put up some billboards, send fundraisers with collection tins to the local shopping mall and hope for the best. Even the telethon, that staple of fundraising campaigns, is losing its lustre as younger demographics shy away from traditional ways of supporting healthcare awareness and fundraising campaigns. And please use the comments section below to tell me when you last bought a raffle ticket...

Sure, these Ice Bucket Challenges are being undertaken by ‘celebrities’ and maybe that brings eyeballs, but the definition of celebrity is changing in 2014. Participants in the IBC include staid CEOs, news readers, washed up pop stars, YouTube/ social media wannabes, politicians. The reason the participants are so diverse is part of the attention deficit disorder remedy that the campaign has deployed.

Not only is the idea of celebrity changing, so too is the concept of supporting a charity or awareness campaign - once again driven by the decline of attention. Where my grandparents and parents once gave a donation by check (or cheque as we spell it here in Australia), Millenials feel that clicking the Like button on a Facebook post or sharing an image to Snapchat or Instagram is the best way to rally behind a cause.

Because of this battle for attention, health care campaigners are having to ditch the long term strategy to drive real, sustainable change in favour of the ‘How Do I Get Washed Up Celebrity X To Retweet My Gosh I Hope It Goes Viral Video Right Now’ strategy.


How To Break Through The Short Term Syndrome


There are some ways we can reach out to people engaged in an Ice Bucket Challenge style stunt to build longer, deeper and richer conversations/ relationships that drive ongoing change:

  • The video is the home base - what are you doing to deepen engagement on the outposts?

  • Are you sending the video to long time donors/ corporate supporters through social media and email marketing?

  • Are you using the video to build your email list or drive viewers to your website or social media channels?

  • Have you thought about how to use the video to introduce and/ or extend the story?


Where’s Bono?


By the way, do you have Bono’s phone number? I want to give him a call and assure him that no H2O molecules have been intentionally harmed in any celebrity Ice Bucket Challenge.

Lastly please use the comments section below to post YouTube links to your Ice Bucket Challenge videos and I will include the videos at the end of this post.



Health heroes assemble! @ #hic14

Jason Berek-Lewis
Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups [at]health



What a week at HIC 2014, Australia's premier digital health, e-health and informatics conference. We've talked digital health, big data, e-patients, design, participatory health, workforce issues, innovation, open access to health information, startups, electronic health records...

I was lucky enough to attend the event on a press pass courtesy of the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA), which gave me access not only to a thought provoking conference and workshops, but the opportunity to meet more of my health heroes.


Jack Andraka and Jason at HIC 2014

Why we need health heroes

It's one thing to repeat the slogan that 'healthcare is broken', and it is, and it is another thing to put yourself out there and do something about it. The many, many people that I look up to in healthcare are all on similar paths to change the 'system'.

We need health heroes because they lead the innovation and reform charge, but also because they place a 'human face' on the causes they champion - and one of the biggest issues confronting healthcare (especially as we move into the era of big data) is the decline of humanity in healthcare.

When I talk about the decline of humanity in healthcare, I am not pointing fingers. The way that our health systems have evolved to being system cenrtic instead of patient and doctor centric is a product of many factors and not the 'fault' of any one group or profession (except maybe politicians - that's a joke). However, we have two choices as how we respond to this 'systemization' of healthcare: accept it or change it. 


Jason and Regina Holliday and ePatient Dave at HIC 2014

Health Heroes Assemble!

Just as The Avengers are a group of superheroes who unite to bring their abilities/ powers together to face a bigger threat the challenges facing our health systems have become too large and intractable to be solved by any one group or individual. That's why we need organisations like the Society for Participatory Medicine, which I hope will soon have a pressence in Australia and conferences/ events/ meetings like HIC 2014 that bring together difference professions in and around medicine, innovators and patients to develop a united path to tackling health challenges in a collaborative way.

Jason and Dr Danny Sands, Society for Participatory Medicine at HIC 2014 

Give a shout out to your health heroes

Who are your health heroes? I have many and on my list are people who have founded/ work in startups, doctors, patients, researchers, hackers, programmers, activists, policy makers, futurists, etc. I have been lucky to meet with many of the people who inspire me including John Nosta, Gary Fingerhut, Martin Kelly, Regina Holliday, ePatient DaveBertalan MeskóBart Collet, Jack Andraka...

Who are your health heroes? 


#hic14 Interview with ePatient Dave

Jason Berek-Lewis
Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups

Despite technical/ wifi/ battery issues and speaking with 'ePatient Dave' deBronkart in the middle of a crowded conference venue... here is my first ever video interview on Healthy Startups.

I couldn't think of a better person to interview for #1. ePatient Dave is a passionate, funny, driven advocate for patient voices in healthcare, empowered and informed patients and for 'revolutionizing the relationship between patient and health care providers, which in turn will impact insurance, careers/jobs, quality of life and the distribution of finances across the entire spectrum of health care.'

The video quality isn't great, the sound isn't great and my phone stopped recording, so there is an abrupt end to the interview, BUT... Dave's message is vital and doesn't warrant any air brushing. I am so pleased he was invited by the Health Informatics Society of Australia to be part of HIC 2014 and I am so lucky to have been able to meet with a true champion for empowered patients.



LIVE from HIC 2014, Australia's largest e-health conference

Jason Berek-Lewis
Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups

Right now I am letting the awesomeness of the last few days wash over me. I am at HIC 2014, Australia's largest e-health conference where I have been lucky enough to meet up with some of the world's preeminent thought leaders around e-health, e-patients, technology and startups in healthcare.

I will write more about the event in the next few days, but here are some cool pics!

Dr Bertalan Mesko (aka Berci) speaking on the Guide to the Future of Medicine - Courtesy Richard O'Leary/

WiFi is slowing me down, I have to fly to a session - more to come! 




AliveCor beats at the heart of the empowered patient

Jason Berek-Lewis
Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups


This week, I had the chance to interview David Albert, Founder and Chief Medical Officer at AliveCor. The power of the internet allowed us to connect, but completely failed when it came to recording the interview - lucky I took detailed notes!

Jason: G’day Dave, thanks so much for your time and for doing this interview. Who are you and what do you do?

Dave: I’m David Albert, Founder and Chief Medical Officer at AliveCor. By way of background I am a cardiovascular researcher and have worked with corporates like GE Healthcare. I founded AliveCor three years ago.

So, what is AliveCor? What does it do? How does it work?

AliveCor is a heart monitor that attaches to your smartphone and allows you to record your own electrocardiogram/ ECG (a test that records the electrical activity of the heart). An ECG shows how fast your heart is beating, whether the rhythm of your heartbeat is steady or irregular and the strength and timing of electrical signals as they pass through each part of your heart.


It's the AliveCor!

Using the AliveCor monitor together with the app on your smartphone enables you to share your ECG with your doctor, health professional or caregiver. For a small fee you are able to have your AliveCor ECG reviewed by US board-certified cardiologists or cardiac technicians*. This service is also available in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

* You can read more about this service on the AliveCor website.


Report provided in the AliveCor iPhone app

I was lucky enough to have a quick ‘hands on’ with the AliveCor at the recent HealthXL Global Gathering in Dublin. It struck me as to how portable and accessible the device was. And how easy it was to use and set up.

 You attach the AliveCor Heart Monitor to your mobile device. Then download the AliveECG app from the App Store or Google play. You sign up for your account and then record your ECG.

It seems to me that one of cases for the AliveCor would be in developing nations, even in developed nations, where access to care is difficult. Can you share some thoughts on that?

 Absolutely!. Improving access to care is a key part of what we are looking to achieve with AliveCor.

When it comes to access for mobile health in the developed versus developing world, it seems that Android is the way to go. Can you share some thoughts on iOS vs Android in terms of mobile health?

Firstly, we are platform agnostic, so AliveCor wants to be on as many devices as possible. iOS and Android are making plays in wearable devices (and) we are focused on supporting both platforms.

I’m conscious of time, so finally how can we find out more about AliveCor?

Our website is at

Thanks so much Dave, I really appreciate your time.


You can also follow AliveCor on social media: