Health care’s new direction?


(This post updated at 1:48 p.m.)

HealthPartners has unveiled a new Web site for its members, which includes same-day test results, and prescriptions online. In her online presentation, Mary Brainerd, the CEO, said “We want the experience to memorable, unique, and fun.” But, of course, there’s nothing fun, usually, about waiting — or often, getting — test results, so HealthPartners has created a new mascot, Petey P. Cup.

HealthPartners says if they created a marketing plan that looks and sounds like its competitors, people won’t be able to tell one healthcare provider from another. That, apparently is where Petey comes in — and Pokey, the needle. They’ve created a Web site for the pair.

The YouTube video also features the slogan, “go with the flow.”

Petey the Peecup also has a Facebook page with 83 “friends.” Think about that: A person dressing up as a pee cup, has people who follow him…it…whatever. Can’t wait for the Twitter feed.

I’m trying to track down the person who came up with the idea. That must’ve been some interesting meeting.

Health care organizations tend to be pretty conservative. So how does the concept of a pee cup mascot make it through? Meet Kevin Palattao, HealthPartners’ vice president of patient care systems. He was involved in the meetings in which the idea surfaced.

“We had this really creative group that was working on this, we had a bunch of Gen X’ers in the room working on the project and one of the things we set out as a goal in the beginning is we wanted to break the healthcare mold of relatively same healthcare advertising that you see all over the place,” he said. “The more we thought about this, the more this thing grew legs and enough of our leaders thought this was a good idea. We’re trying to make this so memorable that it will inspire people to use our online services.”

Mission accomplished, but didn’t the idea of a pee cup mascot make people a little nervous?

“We definitely heard that and that’s one of the things we were trying to be sensitive to. We didn’t want anyone to perceive this as a denigration to the industry or the profession. At the end of the day we felt it was so important to get this message out there that it was worth the risk,” he said.

“The notion of pee cup, we had already overcome that in a ‘spectacular’ (large visuals of healthcare icons that the advertising firm had already produced), so getting to a mascot was not too far.”

The idea came from Greg Klugherz, vice president finance, planning and improvement for the HealthPartners Medical Group. The person who initially played Petey also played Santa Claus at a couple of HealthPartners functions.

What’s coming after Pokey? Pearly White, a giant tooth to promote the dental group. The possibilities are endless, and perhaps a tad frightening.

(H/T: MinnPost)