athenahealth's Unbreak campaign uses humor to address industry woes

athenahealth is on a renewed mission to expose healthcare's failures and fix them — it launched its Unbreak campaign, the purpose of which is to unbreak healthcare, which the company says is its new brand promise.

"At athenahealth, we've long believed we need to expose key points of failure — including or own — so we can set about fixing them," wrote Tim O'Brien, chief marketing officer of athenahealth, in a blog post announcing the campaign. "We're about to get up close and personal with our industry — warts and all."

Much of the campaign focuses on technology and software problems, which Mr. O'Brien wrote "[have] created as many problems for healthcare as it has solved," but athenahealth also plans to dive into the government's role in healthcare, including its "series of false starts, sluggishness and waste."

"We're not doing this to point fingers or pin the blame," according to Mr. O'Brien. "Healthcare's current state is the work of a vast array of good intentions by well-meaning people on both sides of the political aisle. But fixing healthcare is a bipartisan mission. Our hope is that with a little truth-telling and humor we can reignite the fire in the bellies of the masses to drive directed and meaningful change."

The humor to which Mr. O'Brien refers is a series of short videos meant to satire breakdowns in healthcare. One video depicts a board room meeting where leaders are celebrating that the majority of healthcare organizations in the country have adopted their software, even though the systems are soon to be closed. It appears to be a not-so-subtle jab at Epic Systems, which does house more than half of the health records in the country. Mr. O'Brien's blog post even links to a Boston Globe article discussing the recent Epic go-live at Boston-based Partners HealthCare. 

Another video is set in the Oval Office during a meeting with the president as advisors inform the president that legislation meant to encourage technology adoption in healthcare has, ultimately, broken healthcare. 

The campaign encompasses three initiatives: the videos, conversations on social media to come up with a view of an unbroken healthcare system and a new web database called athenaInsight that offers a real-time view of healthcare transactions from athenahealth's physician network.

The vendor hopes to leverage these tools to develop a vision, and ultimately solutions, to unbreak healthcare.

"Everyone knows healthcare is broken," wrote Mr. O'Brien. "With the Unbreak campaign, we're just shining a bright, harsh light on it — and laughing at the absurdity of the system. But though we embrace humor, we couldn't be more serious about our desire to address and fix what's broken."

More articles on athenahealth:

Judge grants Epic, Allscripts, athenahealth's motion to dismiss patent infringement case 
 athenahealth CFO Kristi Mathus to step down 
Q1 2016 updates on Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner, McKesson, MEDITECH 

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