Friday, February 12, 2010

GE Offers Hope--Does Anybody in DC Remember Hope?

As we have observed here at SMS many times, Washington DC seems determined to take all the drama and excitement out of medicine. Instead of the adventure of inquiry and the intensity of the life vs. death struggle, we get drab and dreary debates over "health insurance reform." And the American people, as we have seen, have reacted about as well as anyone might be expected to react to the drab and the dreary--they don't like it.

But happily, amidst all the grim news about rationing and restrictions, one company, General Electric, is going the other way--it is offering "hope." Does anybody remember "hope" in DC?

GE has launched a "Healtymagination" website, full of interesting ideas for healthcare, especially in the realm of Health IT. That's an area where GE hopes to make a lot of money in the years to come. To which we at SMS say, "Good!" We hope that GE, and lots of other companies, find healthcare to be a profitable area to work in. And if they do, all Americans will enjoy the benefits of greater invention and entrepreneurship.

We might hope, indeed, that GE's willingness to go "long" on healthcare and medicine. That's a point touched on by New York Times writer Stephanie Clifford in her report on the GE ad campaign. As Clifford's reporting indicates, this is a big push, even for a company as big as GE:

As the Olympics begin, the company is introducing its biggest campaign ever aimed at consumers. Called Healthymagination, it publicizes G.E.’s role in the world of doctors and hospitals. In the United States alone, G.E. expects to spend more than $80 million this year on the campaign.

Its role in health care is technical: G.E. makes and sells medical devices, like machines that measure bone density and perform M.R.I. scans. But the advertising focuses on the personal. “In the past, we have always shown the hardware, and that’s great — it works on one level — but we wanted to make a point here that this was about better health for more people,” said Don Schneider, executive creative director for BBDO New York, the Omnicom Group agency that created most of the ads.

1 comment:

  1. There's so much opportunity here -- the "me too" political class could easily jump on board and start talking about better equipment and making it easier for smart and innovative and well-trained doctors and medical experts to use it, and making it more attractive for private capital to fund accelerated development and training. Same goes for drugs. Rep. Tauzin, having defeated cancer, was a great spokesman for PhRMA (not to mention a nice and genuine guy, no matter how one might feel about his strategic choices) and now PhRMA has an opportunity to find another leader who can talk about medicine as an area for hope and excitement and progress -- not a zero-sum game. With the '95 and '09 zero-sum health reform failures behind us, perhaps the third time will be the charm and we'll see genuine policy and legal reform that achieves the goal of better medicine for all. (I seem to recall that GE gave an eternal optimist who went on to end global economic malaise and win the Cold War his start in the public policy arena what -- a half century ago? That alone gives GE an unusually good track record for a behemoth.)