Hospital Readies Second Dose After Successful Heart Campaign

Success last year with a direct mail effort aimed at increasing heart health awareness among women has led a Michigan hospital to begin preparations this month for a second campaign.

Port Huron Hospital wants to encourage women to be concerned about heart disease in the same way they worry about breast cancer, said Barb Winters, director of strategic health initiatives for the Port Huron, MI, hospital. Though the public is more aware of the dangers of breast cancer, American Heart Association studies show that heart disease kills more women yearly, she said.

In the Port Huron area, the rate of women dying from heart disease is higher than the average for Michigan, Winters said. With help from healthcare marketing firm CPM Marketing Group Inc., Middleton, WI, the hospital is targeting women in its service area with a higher risk of heart disease.

“For most women, the top worry is breast cancer, but they know that heart disease is important,” Winters said. “Women need to push this into the front of their minds.”

Port Huron Hospital looks to build on last year's effort when it promoted a program to get women to take a heart health risk assessment at the hospital's Web site, then come in for a consultation with a nurse. Port Huron plans to use the same message and creative in the new campaign with some updates, Winters said.

From December 2003 to May 2004, Port Huron Hospital targeted 20,067 women in a direct mail campaign. The hospital divided the list into six groups, mailing them in waves over the six months, spread out so as not to inundate the hospital's limited response resources.

The campaign consisted of two parts, including an initial mailing to every woman on the list. After that, 11,230 women from the group who were identified as especially high risk for heart disease received a follow-up mailing as an extra incentive to respond.

Four mail designs were used, based on recipients' ages. Women who took the online assessment had the option to get a call from a hospital nurse to schedule a follow-up consultation.

A year after the campaign ended, 206 women had gone online to take the assessment, which met the hospital's goal of a 1 percent response rate. Of those, 139 had a follow-up visit with a cardiology nurse.

The hospital tracked service use by women targeted in the campaign and found they were 5.5 percent more likely to use the hospital's cardiology services than a control group. The targeted women also were 19.2 percent more likely to use any hospital service than the control group.

In choosing the women, the hospital used CPM's Consumer Healthcare Utilization Index and Patient Disease Index. These score consumers for health risks to determine the best targets, said Mark Clark, strategic marketing manager for CPM.

The data analysis used in the campaign complies with relevant health privacy laws, Clark said. Though most women don't experience significant heart risks until after age 45, the campaign targeted women older than 35 to get a broad prospect group, he said.

Though women tend to be attuned to healthcare messages, the high volume of such messages in the market make communication difficult.

“We know there's so much clutter,” Winters said. “The paper, the radio, the billboards are full of healthcare messages. You just discard some of it because you don't have time.”

Scott Hovanyetz covers telemarketing, production and printing and direct response TV marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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