Durham – City of Medicine

It’s hard to believe that there’s less than three weeks left of Duke Engage in Durham. Time definitely flies by fast, and there’s always so much to do. I guess that is the great feature about summer enrichment programs; working full time for eight weeks is a lot better than only being able to work here and there during the school year, and despite all that time there is always something to improve, something to work on.

This summer I am working at Duke HomeCare and Hospice (DHCH), a branch of Duke University Health System that deals with an important feature of healthcare that is not very well-known. DHCH works to alleviate the stress of end-of-life time period for both patient and caregiver. Also, DHCH works to provide many medical services in-home, basically eliminating travel time for the patient. Medicine in pop culture is often portrayed as graphic emergency room surgeries or a self-centered doctor determining some outrageous cause of disease in the last seven minutes of the show after 3-5 wrong guesses. However, so much healthcare and care does not involve the doctor and DHCH is a large part of this other side. As my future goal is to become a doctor, I really enjoy learning about what goes on outside the hospital.

My project this summer is to create a marketing plan for DHCH. So far DHCH has a community of clients who greatly feel the services offered are top-notch and exceedingly rewarding. However, this circle is small, and DHCH wants to bring their services to more people within its service area of a 50 mile radius of Durham. DHCH has gotten great reviews regarding its services. Hopefully a plan can be implemented to increase awareness that a) Services like Hospice and HomeCare actually exist and b) DHCH is a leader in providing these services.

My first task was to create a Presentation just detailing general features of DHCH. The goal of this presentation is to have it be used in speaking engagements with community groups. DHCH does have volunteer and staff go to different public groups and present topics not only about DHCH, but also about general caregiving and stuff of that nature. My presentation will have all the basic information centralized so the presentation can be used whether a group wants a talk about DHCH in general or about effective communication in end-of-life time period.

My current goal is to start implementing a marketing plan to reach out to the community. I think something like DHCH has a very personal and heart-felt message that can only be communicated in a similar manner, not through a small ad space in the 3rd page of the newspaper. Thus, I plan to use direct marketing to community groups (churches, service clubs, senior living centers) to target the appropriate audiences. However, my goal is to have these groups want to invite DHCH speakers to come and talk about issues like end-of-life care or stress coping in general. Another feature I am working on related to social media. A large number of homecare and hospice programs utilize social media, and I think this can be a really effective way to communicate DHCH, almost like a real-time, interactive newsletter. Although I won’t be able to implement all my ideas or see the results of direct marketing fully in the next two weeks, I hope to be able to construct everything I can and see where it goes from there.

-   Eason

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