Heart Failure Therapy Awareness Program Honored as Best Health Campaign

The “Thanks to an LVAD…” National Awareness Campaign, developed and implemented by St. Jude Medical and SignalWest Public Relations, has won the award for Best Health & Fitness Campaign in Ragan’s 2016 PR Daily Awards competition. Ragan Communications, a leading publisher of corporate communications and public relations resources, announced the award on April 10.

Of the five million people in the United States who live with Advanced Heart Failure (AHF), as many as 100,000 could benefit from a medical device known as a left ventricular assist device or LVAD (el’-vad). Referred to by some as a “heart pump,” an LVAD is an implant that helps circulate blood when the heart alone is too weak to pump adequately. While research shows LVADs can extend patients’ lives and improve quality of life, less than 5,000 AHF patients receive an LVAD each year. One key reason for the disparity between the number of those who could benefit from an LVAD and the number of annual recipients is the lack of awareness.

LVAD manufacturer St. Jude Medical retained SignalWest Public Relations to help develop greater awareness of LVADs as an effective therapy option among AHF patients and their family members, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. Focusing on the power of patient stories, the appeal of connecting with loved ones in medical decisions, and the growing use of user-generated video content, SignalWest and St. Jude created “Thanks to an LVAD…,” a national video contest and campaign intended to inspire AHF patients and educate them about LVADs.

The contest invited LVAD recipients to submit short videos (30-60 seconds) sharing what they believed was the best thing about having received an LVAD. Working with non-profit partner Mended Hearts, the world’s largest heart patient support network, St. Jude Medical incentivized participation in the contest by making a donation to the work of Mended Hearts for each video submitted.

From a field of more than 250 video submissions, the independent judges panel selected five winners. St. Jude Medical and Mended Hearts made each winner the subject of a local awareness campaign in their hometown area. The first-place winner was the focus of a national PR and social media awareness campaign in which she worked with an advanced heart failure cardiologist to grow LVAD awareness and educate the public about LVADs as a therapy option. The campaign’s reach extended broadly via dozens of broadcast interviews, hundreds of media stories, and direct communications to the members of Mended Hearts.

To learn more about the campaign, please visit the multimedia release announcing the winners and the “Thanks to an LVAD…” website.

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