“Have you seen the reports in both the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and The Washington Post of how, 16 years ago, the NRA managed to get Congress to pull funding on gun violence studies at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Since then, JAMA reports, '… at least 427,000 people have died of gunshot wounds in the United States, including more than 165,000 who were victims of homicide. To put these numbers in context, during the same time period, 4586 Americans lost their lives in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.'”—Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, writing in NRA’s Vision: A Nation Packing Heat
Taking a Stance
Looks like the American Medical Association is finally taking a stance and condemning photoshopping. A little late, but better late than never.
The AMA this week formally denounced retouching pictures and asked ad agencies to consider setting stricter guidelines for how photos are manipulated before becoming advertisements. “We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software,” said AMA board member Barbara McAneny.
Last year in France, members of parliament advocated attaching warning labels to imagery that had been digitally enhanced; lawmakers in England have also dabbled with the idea. Perhaps the AMA’s new stance will be the nudge America needs to follow our European friends’ lead. Unfortunately, our staggering eating disorder statistics seem to not be enough.
For the full article, click here.
Important Inquiries Involving Insurance
Sorry, guys, I couldn’t resist an amazing alliteration. Tee hee. Anyways, since tax dat just passed, I thought a conversation about money was warranted. This is in no way a comprehensive review of all things cancer-and-insurance-related, but it’s based off of my experience. Shout-out to my newly diagnosed lovelies - this one is especially important for you. Ask questions before you start.
Chris and Liam bring getHealth to America: Part 1
On Wednesday 12th October, Chris was doing a Google search on the US wellness industry and he came across the Annual Corporate Wellness Conference which was being held in Chicago in two weeks time from the 26th to the 28th of October.
The conference was the largest corporate wellness conference in the world bringing together 1500 attendees from all over the world as well as many of the experts in the industry to share their knowledge. We quickly realized that if we were going to try and validate our business idea we needed to attend this conference. Also, because we were applying to a number of accelerator programmes in San Francisco we thought, “sure, if we’re going to Chicago we may as well pop down the road to San Francisco.” So our plan was that that would become the second part of our trip (see “getHealth does America: Part 2”)
Things started to happen very quickly with flights and hotels being booked, business cards being printed and meetings being set up, and despite Chris frantically trying to renew my passport we got everything organized very quickly. On Tuesday 25th we headed off for the morning flight to Chicago O’Hare International.
After the 8 hour flight and getting to the hotel in Schaumburg, Illinois, we quickly assessed our surroundings and our itinerary. Our first engagement was a networking cocktail party in the hotel where the conference was being help. Armed with business cards, a few flyers and pure adrenaline we headed off to the cocktail reception to commence our networking barrage of the US wellness industry. With palpable enthusiasm for our new idea and our Irish accents in full swing, we got a lot of positive feedback from attendees at the conference.
Following a few glasses of wine and some business card collecting, we headed off to dinner with Marcia Reid, a Healthcare Consultant (with quite a large following of her personal blog on healthcare), whom Liam had connected with via Twitter. It was good to relax and chat about our idea with them and talk about our strategy for launching this service in the US market. Amidst the food and chatting, we quickly realized that our jetlag was catching up on us and we headed on back to our hotel to rest up for the next day.
Not adjusting to the jetlag meant we had an unexpected early start to the morning. However, this allowed us to get some good research done on some of the individuals we were due to meet later in the day.
Throughout the morning we spoke to HR managers, health insurance providers and wellness coordinators about our business concept and, like the previous day, the response back was extremely positive and a number of the companies expressed an interest in piloting the service for whenever it launches.
As well as speaking to individuals about our concept, the conference was also a fantastic opportunity to learn about the corporate wellness industry and to see what challenges companies faced. Particularly notable speakers included Dr. Cecil Wilson, President of the American Medical Association, who spoke a lot about various legislation which are either in effect or coming into effect in the next couple of years. Also of note was Pani Tademeti who talked about the ‘Return on Investment for Web Based Enrollment System Implementation’. This session was interesting from our point of view, as it let us hear from other experts how they can create a culture of change for wellness coordinators through the use of software and online technology.
Our meetings went very well throughout the day and perhaps the most productive time was spent going round the stands chatting to people, finding out what they do and also identifying any potential competitors.
With the day coming to a close we were able to relax and reflect on what had been a great day of networking for us with new friends and a delicious steak.
Up early again to finish off our demo. Some of the attendees we had met the previous day had expressed an interest in being able to view it and so we spent a bit of time adding the final touches to it before heading off to the conference.
The first talk this morning was Donald Trump’s first apprentice, Bill Rancic. The talk had very little to do about wellness but it was interesting to hear about his experience of the show and about his business life in general. After he spoke there was a Q&A session, where Liam went up to the mic got up to ask a question in front of this room of 1500 people.
He started off, “Hi, my name is Liam Ryan. I am from Ireland and I’m working on a new online solution for the wellness sector. What impact do you think technology will have in healthcare moving forward? “Bill didn’t hear the question properly. So Liam repeated the entire question, “Hi, my name is….” The answer to the question didn’t matter. What was important was that we just advertised ourselves to the entire conference, and boy did it work. People were coming up to us after saying, “Oh, you’re the Irish guy who asked the question. I’d love to hear more about what you’re working on.” Result!
Bill’s talk was a nice way to ease into the day but it was followed up with a fascinating talk from John Casey who is director of international benefits at Google. John is Irish and a graduate of UCD, and he gave an insightful account of Google’s approach on wellness. It was very clear to see that innovation touches all aspects of their organization.
Thursday proved to be even better than Wednesday with some great contacts acquired and a lot of interest generated in getHealth. We also got the opportunity to attend a couple of sessions which allowed us to get a Corporate Wellness Certified Accreditation which we know will be extremely useful to us as we develop the business.
The end of conference event held on Thursday evening was a truly strange affair; dinner at the world famous Medieval Times. If anyone has seen Jim Carey in The Cable Guy you’ll know exactly what I mean. In this “magical” place you sit around a medieval arena watching as horse men perform tricks and fight each other, while we all sit there and eat half a chicken with our hands. The food was pretty awful but the show was entertaining. I wouldn’t bother going again though!
The conference finished at 12pm on Friday and, in my opinion they saved the best session for last; Peter Saravis, CEO of Evive Health, talking about new tools for increasing employee engagement in health and wellness programs. This was extremely relevant and helpful to us as it explained how even a smallest of changes can improve employee engagement in wellness. For examples, Peter explained how changing the image used on your wellness promotional materials can improve employee engagement if it makes people feel that they can relate to it more. This session was very well attended and I think it underlined the problem wellness managers have in trying to improve employee engagement.
The conference drew to a close shortly after this session and after our fond farewells to our new friends (and hopefully new clients) we headed back to the hotel to gather our things and prepare for the next part of our trip.