The Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3), led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs, had a dynamic year in 2013. HC3 aims to strengthen the capacity of organizations to implement more effective health communication programs around the world, specifically in developing countries. And with partners as diverse and far-reaching as MSH, NetHope, Ogilvy Public Relations, PSI, InterNews, and ForumOne Communications, HC3 is well-positioned as a global thought leader in health communication, one able to provide guidance and support for effective social and behavior change communication campaigns on the ground.
NetHope, a core partner in HC3, contributed to many year one achievements, particularly around innovations in health communication and community building. NetHope co-authored a soon-to-be-released report on building, maintaining, and evaluating communities of practice. The report integrates evidence from peer-reviewed and grey literature with guidance from experts on the subject to provide concrete recommendations on how to create sustainable, engaging and productive communities. The report highlights the usage of technology as a complementary tool in creating modern communities that blend the virtual with the face-to-face; it also points out other techniques for engaging audience members and creating positive outcomes.
In addition, NetHope created and implemented an ongoing webinar series on innovations in health communication. The first webinar focused on leveraging social networks to achieve improved health outcomes and brought in panelists who spoke about web sites such as SmartPatients and HealthTap. These virtual networks create specialized communities around health issues that encourage social capital and ultimately improve adherence to treatment and other health behaviors. The second webinar focused on research methodologies and discussed new methods to research and evaluate health communication topics and initiatives. Panelists spoke not only about foundational theory, but also about the shifts in research paradigms required for successful integration of technology with health communication. Technology allows for reaching a large number of people in a short period of time, and accordingly, research should turn to what messages are most appropriately tailored to the medium. The most recent webinar, hosted in December, focused on serious games that spur health behavior change. During the webinar, NetHope Program Director Sherry Youssef presented OurCity – a Facebook game that encourages civic engagement among Jordanian youth. Other panelists presented games that help train paramedics or target teenagers to improve treatment for chronic illnesses. The webinar series will continue in 2014; the topic for the next installment is youth campaigns.
NetHope also participated in a variety of other HC3 activities. For instance, HC3 has gotten involved with the UN’s Commission on Life-Saving Commodities’ Recommendation 7, which calls for an increase in the demand for and utilization of life-saving commodities. NetHope crafted a media selection guide to facilitate the pairing of information and communication technologies with new media for greater generation of that demand in the space of maternal and child health. Through the exploration of the process of selecting the appropriate media for messaging and health behavior frameworks, the guide illustrates how health campaigns are currently utilizing media and what can be done in the future to effectively leverage the potential of technology and media for generating demand.
HC3 also engaged with the broader NetHope membership and facilitated a workshop at the Global Member Summit in St. Charles, Illinois. Many NetHope member organizations had expressed an interest in health communication and behavior change so participants were brought together to discuss common barriers to health communication interventions and to brainstorm potential shared technological solutions.
NetHope is excited for the year ahead and continuing as a core partner in HC3. To sign up for project news, visit the Health Compass website. This is a great way to stay tuned for information on how to participate in the project’s upcoming activities.