Posts tagged ‘health care’

July 16, 2012

Lessons We Can Learn From The Candidates – How To Reach Hispanics

With more than 21 million registered voters, Hispanics represent almost 10 percent of the total population registered to vote. It’s important the presidential candidates reach this critical segment because federal decisions about healthcare and immigration will impact Hispanics more profoundly than just about any other segment of the population. Wherever the candidate stands on these issues and how well they communicate it to Hispanics will greatly influence whether they get the Hispanic vote, and possibly, the presidency.

A recent Gallup Poll has Obama with a two-to-one lead over Romney in his support from Hispanics and it’s not hard to see why. I’ve been advising U.S. firms how to reach Hispanic audiences for more than 20 years. This summer, I have been watching the presidential campaign closely and have rendered an assessment for both candidates.

Here’s a peek into why Obama is doing better, with a list of my six best ways to reach this influential audience and how each candidate is doing in that effort.

6. Use mobile phone apps and texting to reach the 18-30 year olds. Use English.

  • Obama – He scores an “A.” Obama’s sites are optimized for mobile phones. He has an official mobile app for Hispanics. Has a texting campaign: Unidos.
  • Romney scores a “C.” Romney has a mobile optimized website. Some SMS texting. No mobile app.

5. Use influential celebrities to reach women over 50.

  • Obama – Obama gets an “A+” for releasing a series of 30-second TV ads featuring the “Spanish Oprah” Cristina Saralegui. He could not have picked a better celebrity.
  • Romney – Romney gets a “C” for obtaining an endorsement from Florida Senator Marc Rubio. Yes he is Hispanic, however, according to Massachusetts State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, most Hispanics don’t even know who Rubio is. As a hard line Republican, he may not give the Hispanic voters the warm fuzzies Romney needs.

4. Use the American Dream as a central theme – it’s still the most powerful force drawing Hispanics to settle here.

  • Obama – Obama gets an “A+” for directly using the American Dream phrase in its Spanish-language TV ads through the context of immigration and education. As a child of an immigrant himself, his sensitivity and compassion to their plight comes through in his speeches naturally and with sincerity.
  • Romney – Romney gets a “B” He has promised to focus on jobs for Hispanics, however, he has tread too lightly on American Dream phrasing, possibly due to its connection to immigration. He gets points for his latest ad featuring his son speaking fluent Spanish about another theme central to the Hispanic culture, family.

3. Use Hispanic TV and Radio to reach Hispanics in America. Univision and Jorge Ramos are considered the single most influential media outlet and news personality among Hispanics in America.

  • Obama – Obama gets a “B” for his efforts. Although he is outspending his opponent with nearly $3 million of his $100 million in TV and radio ads on Spanish language ads like “Estamos Unidos” in key Hispanic states of OH, CO, FL, and NV, Obama crossed a line in using Jorge Ramos’ image in some ads without his permission. Arguably the most influential celebrity in the Hispanic American culture, Ramos retains a fiercely independent stance on the campaign and refuses to make an endorsement. He was not at all happy with the Obama campaign for the misstep.
  • Romney – Romney gets a “C”. As of early July, Romney had spent only almost $500K on TV ads like “Juntos Con Mitt” in NC and OH, and on radio ads “Unidos Con Mitt” in AZ, CA, FL and NV. Most recently however, his son has been featured speaking fluent Spanish in a series of ads, with messaging about family. It’s a really smart move for Romney, but it’s unclear yet whether this will have the necessary impact for the candidate that he needs.

2. Focus on access to affordable healthcare and/or messaging about health. Hispanics are the single largest segment of the population without access to affordable healthcare and some of the most prone to diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

  • Obama – Obama gets an “A+” for a healthcare law that provides access to affordable healthcare for all Americans.
  • Romney – Romney gets a “D” for opposing Obama’s plan, for planning to repeal it, and for flip-flopping on the topic altogether. It has been reported that Obama’s plan was the same plan Romney modeled the Massachusetts healthcare law from when he was governor there.

1. Focus on immigration reform that balances security with humanity.

  • Obama – Obama’s recent executive order to forgive children of immigrants who came to the states illegally earns him an “A+” as it shows his compassion and focus on smart, effective reforms.
  • Romney – Romney gets an “F” here, for wavering frequently on how he plans to address immigration reform. He’s historically been a staunch opponent of Obama’s Dream Act though the popularity of the president’s Executive Order has caused Romney to back off. He is losing not only Hispanics with this lack of clarity, but members of his own party.

April 19, 2012

Equal Health Care For All?

April is National Minority Health Month, and the current debate over health care in America has me thinking about the kind of care my parents received. I am not talking about co-pays and deductibles or in-network or out of network issues. I am talking about an issue that has not been given much focus in today’s debate – the role of quality communication and interpretation, if needed, in the provision of quality health care.

One of the main things that I remember about my childhood (besides music), was spending a lot of time in hospitals visiting my mother. And then as an adult, I spent a lot of time in hospitals visiting my father. My mother had many different surgeries during my youth, including an appendectomy, gall bladder issues, and passing kidney stones, to name a few. She even got a concussion once from slipping on ice. Needless to say, she experienced many health issues and needed a lot of care. My mother passed away seven years ago.

My father was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 46. Soon after, he developed cardiovascular disease. Only 20 years later, after significant health issues, my father passed away. That was 13 years ago.

Both of my parents were originally from South America. My mother was from Ecuador and my father was from Argentina. Their English was not great. I remember they relied on me quite a bit in the doctor’s office starting when I was about 10 years old to assist with interpretation, and I worried what was missed when I was not there. I worried then and still often think about now, whether they received all the care they needed, given that language barrier.  I know they would have benefited from receiving translated information about their illnesses in their native language – Spanish, and by having an interpreter at the doctor’s office or at their bedside in the hospital, when I, their only child, wasn’t available. There wasn’t a lot of that available several years ago. I wonder now, to what degree the language barrier affected their long-term health. Would they still be here today? Consider your own experience. What if you couldn’t read the doctor’s instructions written for you? What if you couldn’t ask all the questions you wanted to of the doctor or pharmacist, or understand everything perfectly that your doctor said? How do you think it would affect your health?

So amidst all the talk lately focusing on the equity of cost and quality of our future health care, I am wondering about another part of that equity equation – whether we’re adequately addressing the needs of all of our citizens, including our immigrant citizens, like my parents. This article from Reuter’s Health highlights the importance of having professional interpreters in a hospital setting, especially based on how “[a]n estimated 25 million Americans have limited English proficiency — that is, they say they speak the language less than “very well.””

Did my parents receive the same quality of health care that non-Hispanic Whites receive? Or was there a disparity in care? Communications is such an integral part of good, quality health care. How can we be sure that an appropriate effort is made to address communications barriers to ensure equity of health care for all Americans? Bringing light to this issue through my Blog and social media channels is how I choose to mark National Minority Health Month. You can mark the event by helping  me to keep the conversation going, or share how you will mark the occasion.

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