The Story of a World Record on the World Heart Day

World Heart Day was on Sept 29th this year and I was on tenterhooks.

Fortis Healthcare was aiming to create a Guinness World Records (GWR) record of the maximum cholesterol tests done in a city on a single day and I was nervous. We had been preparing for this day for the last four weeks and the day of reckoning was here.

The previous night I had slept late, mentally going through a check-list of things that we had closed, wondering about all that which may go wrong and hoping for the best the next day. Once, I had ticked off most things on  my mental check-list, I slept well and was up bright and early. It was time to see how the last 4 weeks of intense effort would now fructify.

The idea to attempt a world record of cholesterol tests came from Dr. Ashok Seth, the Chairman of Cardiac Sciences, at Fortis in New Delhi. Dr. Seth knows how to throw a challenge to the team. My colleague Jasrita and I had met him to discuss about the World Heart Day and Dr. Seth immediately threw down the gauntlet. He got us excited and committed. He got us thinking and wondering. A simple cholesterol test can serve as a warning sign for heart disease, we can use the test as a marketing device to create awareness about the disease. We hoped to get a few thousand people to come (fasting) to our hospitals on a warm Saturday morning to get their cholesterol levels checked.

Jasrita, Arnab and I got down to serious work. We had to plan and organise the campaign, get the hospitals excited and aligned, find a media partner who can drive home the message and have a diagnostic lab join hands with us in doing the physical testing. Fortis has more than half a dozen hospitals in the National Capital Region, who had to come on-board to participate in the activity. Most importantly, we had to find the money for a big campaign like this.

The Partners

Crayons

We roped in our advertising agency in Delhi as the key partner in developing the communication and for media planning. Crayons, has been working for many years and the CEO of Crayons, Ranjan has been a personal friend for over a decade. The Fortis team and the Crayons team met in their office for a detailed briefing. We took them through the idea, they loved it and saw great possibilities. They were raring to go. Two weeks later, Jasrita and Arnab trooped into my office with the first set of creatives, neatly printed and mounted on boards. The agency was surely putting its best foot forward. Also, they had churned out a lot of work. We had 4 different communication routes and tonnes of creatives. Jasrita, Arnab and I went through all the material calmly, debated and discussed each route and decided to sleep on it. I also asked Arnab to leave it lying around in my office overnight. We also agreed that, while we were attempting a World Record, it would not be appropriate for us to talk about it in our advertising.

The next morning we again went over the entire pile. We discarded two routes and shortlisted two for further discussions with Dr. Seth and Ashish, who is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Fortis. We met them on a Wednesday afternoon in Ashish’s office and took them through the ideas and the creatives. We unanimously agreed on a creative route. The die was now cast. Jasrita, Arnab and I would later fine tune the communication, pour over commas and full stops and agonize over every word written in the copy of the communication. We needed to get it just right and we knew that even a single word left out-of-place can leave a bad taste in the mouth.

The Hindustan Times

The Hindustan Times group is the second largest media company in the country and they rule Delhi. We called in the HT team for a briefing early on. They loved the idea as well. Of course, they were keen on our business as these are lean times for folks in the media business, but I would like to believe that they liked the idea more than the commercials. I have always believed that a partner delivers the best, when they buy in an idea. This is exactly what we did with the HT team. Of course, it helped that I knew them well as HT is my former employer and these guys are friends. While we negotiated hard, they eventually gave us a great deal.

SRL Diagnostics

SRL Diagnostics is a subsidiary of Fortis and is the largest diagnostic chain in the country. Jasrita worked hard with them to agree to collecting more than 10000 samples from 20 odd locations spread across the NCR. They were really a difficult bunch and the logistics of the exercise had to be meticulous. The last thing we wanted was to have people having a bad experience while giving samples, or the samples getting mixed up or reporting going haywire. Jasrita nailed everything down. Our favorite term during these days was ”idiot-proof”. We planned to make the entire process idiot-proof, dumb it down so that even the last person in the line should have no difficulty in understanding the process and following it. We meticulously calculated the number of phlebotomists needed at all the sample collection facilities, provided each of them with clear directions and fervently hoped that all will turn-up at the appointed hour. Jasrita wrote mails after mails detailing out a simple process over and over again so that everyone understood.

Guinness World Records (GWR)

Guinness World Records has a process for every record. They sent us reams of information about what all they needed to certify our record. They made us go nuts with their demands about arranging assessors, video-recording of all the sessions, the strict time-keeping, physical inspections of the sites and finally collection and evaluation of all the data. Boy, they are really thorough. They made us go through hoops but we complied on every single count. Jasrita, handled them adroitly, understood their detailed instructions and passed them on faithfully to the operations team. We were always fearful that we may fall foul of their elaborate process and miss out on the record on a technicality. What a pity that would have been.

The BTL Folks

We had a couple of ”Below the Line’ marketing agencies supporting us. They promoted the concept of a free cholesterol test directly to consumers. They went around parks looking for morning walkers, spread awareness in the hospital neighborhoods by distributing pamphlets and getting people to sign on for the test. Thus, one afternoon my wife and I were accosted by a young man at a Barista Coffee Shop, who explained to me what a cholesterol test was and how I can get one done free on Sept 29th at a Fortis facility. Bravo!, we both gladly registered.

Salt Mango Tree

You may wonder, what they are. Salt Mango Tree is in fact our agency for digital advertising. They trawl the internet for us. They also run our digital campaigns. For World Heart Day they promoted us on the Google sites, Facebook and Twitter. They created excitement in the digital world and got us a huge fan following on the net.

While, we had the partners lined up, a big challenge was to get each hospital charged up. We called meetings of the sales people from all the hospitals and, explained to them what we were attempting and asked them to contribute. Each hospital came up with ideas on getting folks to come to the hospital to give their samples. We met many times as a group, discussed progress, new ideas and revised plans. Goals were set, targets were mutually agreed upon and shared. The teams came together. The Corporate Sales teams too joined in. The word spread. We loved it. Aditya Vij, who is the CEO of Fortis Healthcare spoke with me. His big concern understandably was not the record but the customer experience that we were geared to deliver the next day. I assured him that we were ready.

Sept 29th 2012

I reached Fortis Escorts Heart Institute at around 0630 in the morning. I ran into Ashish, who too was wandering in. We had asked him to be the first donor of the day. The program was to begin at 7 in the morning and end at 1230. Even at 0630, we had the waiting area full, with people waiting for the tests. We began with Ashish and there was no looking back. Soon, I started receiving reports of a large turnout at almost all our facilities. The campaign had created a huge amount of excitement. We had people trooping in everywhere. Yet, the processes held up. We did not encounter any chaos anywhere.Everything went according to plan and by 11 we knew we were ahead of the existing record.

By the time we stopped at 1230, we were confident of having set a new GWR record. The GWR assessor took the entire afternoon in ascertaining our claims. He went through reams of physical data, the forms that we had collected and footage from across all our 20 locations. It was a mammoth exercise.

In the evening we assembled for a small function. The GWR representative asked Ashish to hazard a guess about the number of people who came for the test. Ashish who is usually ahead of the curve answered with a broad smile ”14161”. The GWR assessor looked a little abashed, smiled and said ”a very well-educated guess indeed”.

World Heart Day 2010-The State of the Heart Report

Today is the 10th anniversary of the World Heart Day. To commemorate the occasion the World Heart Federation (WHF)  has released its ‘State of the Heart’ report. The report has been put together by the WHF in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WHF has put out this report ‘ to reflect on the great achievements in cardiovascular disease (CVD) over the past decade, and raises awareness of the challenges still ahead of us in the fight against the number one killer worldwide.’ 

Every year more than 17 mn people die of Cardio-Vascular Disease (CVD). 82% of these deaths are in developing countries like India. Many of these deaths can be easily prevented if adequate awareness is created about the lifestyle modifications needed to combat CVD’s. A balanced diet, regular exercise, management of stress and avoiding tobacco can itself help save many lives, but many people particularly in the developing world either do not know about these simple measures or do not attach much importance to them, until of course they fall prey to the disease. 

The CVD report traces the contours of the global fight against CVD’s and lists ten of its most significant achievements. It also highlights some important challenges, which continue to obstruct the global effort in combating CVD’s.  

The key achievements listed in the report are categorised under 

Policy  

Recognition of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) of which CVD is the number one killer, as an urgent public health priority by the United Nations (UN). On 13th May 2010 the UN General Assembly voted unanimously for UN Resolution 64/265 to hold a Summit on NCDs in September 2011  

The widespread adoption of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which catalyzed global action towards a smoke-free world

The launch of awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of diet and physical activity on heart health

Expanded efforts by organizations to mobilize companies to invest in workplace-wellness initiatives to promote health amongst employees

 Medicine 

Improved recognition of the symptoms and treatment for heart attacks

The introduction of quality improvement programmes within hospitals

Improved public awareness of, and access to, CVD healthcare in developing countries

Science
 
Statin therapy which ‘revolutionized’ the treatment of elevated cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and heart attacks in people with very high cholesterol levels 
 
The development of monitors to assist in the correct diagnosis of atrial fibrillation
 
Advances in diagnosing and treating congenital heart defects.

The report also highlights the ongoing challenges in combating CVD’s and seeks ways and means to partner various stakeholders in this effort. The challenges identified are the following. 

  1. Secure an outcomes statement at the UN High Level Summit on NCDs, taking place in September 2011
  2. Enhance benefits of smoking cessation and implement affordable smoking cessation programmes at the community level
  3. Increase access to affordable, quality essential medicines for CVD in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC’s) 
  4. Close disparities in CVD health
  5. Increase the prevalence of workplace-wellness initiatives
  6. Integrate CVD prevention, detection and treatment into primary healthcare setting.
  7. Increase the CVD health workforce
  8. Strengthen global, regional and national partnerships
  9. Improve data collection and monitoring of care provided to coronary heart disease patients

It is easy to see some of these challenges in the Indian context and they do have a ring of truth about them. We need a sustained and concerted effort along these lines to make some progress in fighting CVD’s. We need money, a dedicated task force, governmental support and a single-minded focus to make a serious difference. 

The fight must go on. 

Ref: http://www.world-heart-federation.org/what-we-do/awareness/world-heart-day/world-heart-day-2010/state-of-the-heart-cvd-report/ 

  

   

    

 

World Heart Day

Today is the World Heart Day.

World Heart Day is observed the world over on the last Sunday of the month of September. World Health Organisation estimates that annually over 17.5 mn people die of cardiovascular diseases. It is the world’s largest killer.

The theme of this year’s World Heart Day is ‘Know Your Risk’. Heart Disease is largely a consequence of the lifestyle choices that we make. True, some of us are predisposed to this disease because of our genetics, many of us make unwise lifestyle choices and suffer the consequences. Diet, Exercise and avoiding smoking are the simplest ways of keeping heart disease at bay. Yet so few of us pay attention only to regret later.   Continue reading