Pulling In Participants
To help draw the medical and behavioral healthcare providers that they wanted to come to the symposia, Bixler was able to provide American Medical Association Physician Recognition Award Category 1 credit for physicians, psychiatrists, and others with medical degrees; American Academy of Family Physician credits for the primary care providers; Pennsylvania State Nursing Association credits for nurses; and American Psychological Association credits for the therapists, behavioral counselors, and marriage and family social workers.
Bixler says that, though her office does provide an annual social work conference and other activities with APA credit, most of what they offer targets mainly primary care and other physicians, so that was her main concentration in marketing the symposia. “We did what we could with the behavioral and mental health folks, but we relied more on Health Net and the Red Cross because of their strong ties to those professions,” she says.
Because the Red Cross works closely with mental health professionals who their services during natural disasters, it wasn’t a reach for that organization to spread the word to those disciplines, says Marjorie Kukor, PhD, senior associate, mental health, Service to the Armed Forces, American Red Cross, who took over the symposia-planning duties after Pepe retired from her official capacity with the Red Cross earlier this year. Among the many organizations to which the American Red Cross sent electronic invitations were the local hospitals and insurance companies, and health/behavioral health and professional association contacts.
Health Net reached out to its networks of specialty and primary care providers through e-mails and fax blasts, and all involved put notices on their Web sites and asked partnering organizations to do the same on their Web sites and listservs. Health Net also issued a press release on the symposia and used its legislative liaison channels to spread the word.
They also kept the pricing “low enough to be attractive compared to other offerings, but high enough to prevent excessive no-shows,” says Bixler. This strategy worked well—there were very few who signed up who didn’t actually come to the symposium.
In the end, they attracted a total of more than 250 participants to the four symposia. While the aim was to bring in both primary care and behavioral health providers, “What we found was that this was far and away of greatest interest to those on the behavioral side, which ranged from behavioral health nurses to licensed clinical social workers and psychiatrists,” says Grissom. More than half were master’s degree–level behavioral health professionals, with a good smattering of nurses, psychologists, physicians, and physician assistants. About one-third of participants had a relationship with TRICARE.