Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine treat people, not patients. They practice in all medical specialties. They are trained to learn a person’s complete story and provide empathetic, whole-person care.
These are some of the key messages of the AOA’s new national osteopathic awareness campaign, which launched Saturday.
The multiyear, multimillion-dollar campaign aims to raise the visibility of the osteopathic profession and will promote the DO philosophy within the pages of national magazines such as Men’s Health and Parents, on respected health websites such as WebMD.com and Healthgrades, and at major events such as the New York City Marathon.
“Not just in the months ahead, but in the years ahead, you will not have to answer the question ‘What is a DO?'” AOA CEO Adrienne White-Faines, MPA, noted on Saturday during the OMED General Session after the campaign messaging was unveiled.
Creating the campaign
In developing campaign messaging, the AOA relied heavily on market research of potential patients, DOs and osteopathic medical students. The research revealed that the DO philosophy of treating the whole person aligned heavily with what consumers are looking for.
“To me, this is really remarkable,” says Ronn Kirkwood, the senior vice president of Cramer-Krasselt, the award-winning marketing agency the AOA worked with to develop the campaign. “A profession that’s 140 years old is offering values and principles and methods of treatment that are consistent with what people are seeking in the 21st century. We heard it come up over and over again in the consumer research. People want doctors who listen, who are empathetic and who see them as a whole person.”
Consumers also want reassurance that DOs are fully trained, fully licensed physicians, Kirkwood notes. This campaign will dispel misconceptions that DOs are chiropractors and that they practice alternative medicine.
“In addition to having this very motivating, inspiring message about treating the whole person, we will also provide assurance that DOs are doctors who employ the current medical science and technology in their practice of medicine,” Kirkwood says.
A boon for the profession
Featuring real DOs from throughout the country, the national awareness campaign stands to advance the cause of osteopathic medicine in several different ways, notes AOA Trustee William J. Burke, DO, the chair of the AOA’s Brand Awareness Task Force.
“The campaign will not only serve to educate our patients and potential patients on who we are and what we do, but will also help enhance the pride of DOs and medical students across the country,” he says.
The campaign is also an opportunity to showcase the diverse face of osteopathic medicine today, Dr. Burke notes.
“Not only are we racially, ethnically and geographically diverse, we are also an increasingly young profession as well,” he says.
“We understood the importance of connecting with medically underserved populations in both urban and rural areas,” he says. “We wanted to demonstrate the diversity of the osteopathic physicians who are working to treat the medically underserved.”
The timing of the campaign is opportune because open enrollment season is starting, and many patients will be seeking new physicians. The campaign is also kicking off while the osteopathic medical profession is experiencing a growth spurt, notes Dr. Burke.
“This is an exciting time for osteopathic medicine,” he says. “We’re one of the fastest-growing medical professions in the country. One in 4 medical students is now enrolled in an osteopathic medical school. We have a public that is looking for something a little different, and we have the resources to advocate for the osteopathic medical profession. This is the perfect opportunity for us to share who we are, what we do, and why it makes a difference for our patients.”