Category Archives: Public Relations

HC Policy Power Players Series: National Quality Forum

By: Annie Martello

National Quality Forum

At TogoRun, we pride ourselves in finding and telling the untold stories—stories about important people and organizations who have not received the recognition they deserve.

When it comes to healthcare policy in the U.S., the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Food and Drug Administration and the White House are household names; however, there are many other groups frequently overlooked despite their influence in building the future of healthcare.

In this edition of HCPolicy Power Players, we focus on profiling the non-profit/non-partisan National Quality Forum (NQF).


The National Quality Forum is a non-profit and non-partisan membership organization whose mission is to drive improvements in healthcare. The NQF was established in 1999 based on recommendations made by the President’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry. These recommendations concluded that an organization was needed to promote and ensure patient protections and healthcare quality through measurement and public reporting. Its current President and CEO is Christine K. Cassel, who previously held the same title at the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the ABIM Foundation.

The NQF is comprised of more than 400 member organizations that represent a vast range of healthcare interests. From consumers and physicians, to government and public health agencies, to pharmaceutical and medical device companies, the NQF spans the spectrum of healthcare.

What It Does

The NQF works to achieve its mission by setting and shaping national quality improvement priorities, endorsing and setting national standards, advancing electronic measurement, and promoting outreach and education programs.

Shaping Priorities

Through NQF-convened partnerships, like the National Priorities Partnership (NPP), the NQF helps to set and shape national healthcare improvement priorities and then determines the best course of action to meet them. The NPP is a cooperative of 52 major national organizations with a shared vision to create a healthier population through a safe, effective, equitable and value-driven healthcare system. Through the NPP, the NQF was able to establish a national blueprint for achieving this high-value healthcare system—The National Quality Strategy. The NQS sets clear goals to help the nation focus its efforts and have a coordinated plan of attack.

Setting Standards

The National Quality Forum uses a rigorous and formal process to evaluate and endorse several different kinds of standards—performance measures, best practices, frameworks and reporting guidelines. NQF’s “Consensus Development Process” involves eight steps:

  1. Call for nominations
  2. Call for candidate standards
  3. Candidate consensus standard review
  4. Public and member comment
  5. Member voting
  6. Consensus Standards Approval Committee (CSAC) decision
  7. Board ratification
  8. Appeals

Advancing Electronic Measurement

The National Quality Forum has developed health IT initiatives to support the prevailing move toward electronic measurement. In 2011, the NQF converted 113 of its endorsed quality measures into an electronic format—eMeasures. eMeasures provide greater consistency and standardization in measuring performance results. In 2011, the NQF also released the Measure Authoring Tool, which allows for the development of standardized eMeasures for use across electronic health records (EHRs) and clinical IT systems.

Additionally, the NQF has developed the Quality Data Model (QDM). The QDM is an information model that acts as a guide for the effective automation and standardization of electronic health record use. The QDM makes data entered into EHR systems more easily measurable and identifiable.

Outreach and Education

The NQF provides reportstools, events and information for use by physicians, healthcare communicators, consumers and others in the healthcare industry. Some of its main outreach and educational materials include: a directory of reports, endorsement summaries, endorsed measures, graphics, a Health IT knowledgebase and an action registry.

The Impact

Why Quality Standards Matter

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine estimated in its famous “To Err Is Human” report, that as many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in U.S. hospitals each year as the result of medical errors. More recent studies report that these numbers are actually much higher than previously believed. According to a 2013 estimate published in the Journal of Patient Safety, more than 400,000 Americans die annually in part because of avoidable medical errors.

These errors also have a serious fiscal impact. One of the most recent studies to measure these expenses found that medical errors cost the country around $19.5 billion annually, most of which is spent on extra care and medication.


Due to its stringent and involved consensus process, NQF-endorsed measures are considered the “gold standard” for healthcare measurement in the U.S. The federal government and many other private sector organizations use NQF-endorsed measures above all others and nearly all are in use.

Apart from its endorsed standards, one of the initiatives the NQF is best known for is the creation of its report on Serious Reportable Events (SRE) in 2009. Serious Reportable Events are “preventable, serious, and unambiguous adverse events that should never occur.” These events usually end in death or serious harm to a patient due to medical error and are often referred to as “never events,” as they should never happen. The NQF has compiled a list of 28 SREs in six categories— surgical, product or device, patient protection, care management, environment and criminal. By identifying these SREs, the healthcare industry can work to eliminate them.

Today, the NQF continues to push for the reduction and proper handling of medical error. One of its recent initiatives includes advocating for legislation that would require hospitals to adopt written policies that address the management of adverse events.

The Bottom Line

The NQF persists as one of the strongest voices in championing the enforcement of quality in all areas of healthcare. It can be counted on to advocate on behalf of all major legislation and initiatives that focus on improving the healthcare system. Its strong advocacy for policies to promote safe and high-quality healthcare coupled with its leading-edge efforts makes the NQF an organization to know and follow.

Let’s Talk About Cuba

By: Emma Berry


The word of the day is “Cuba.” With the restoration of Cuban-American relations, Cuba is re-entering the U.S. media stream in no small way. In the past month, America has been excited about the re-establishment of the embassies, enraptured by the U.S.-Cuba showing in the Gold Cup quarterfinals and abuzz with discussion of President Obama’s foreign goals for our neighbors to the South. We talk about what America can do for Cuba, but what are we not talking about? After over half a century of silence, what is still unheard?

Healthcare is a universal necessity that affects quality of life, both mentally and physically. The conversation it sparks bridges cultural gaps and unites even conflicting nations under a common goal.

World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Dr. Margaret Chan called the elimination of the transmission of a virus one of the “greatest public health achievements possible.” Now, Cuba has done just that. The island nation has a history of successful disease interventions: Medicines for diabetic foot ulcers, lung cancer and hepatitis B. It developed a meningococcal vaccine more than 20 years before America did. And, in early July, the WHO announced that Cuba had effectively eliminated mother-to-child HIV transmission, a massive stepping stone towards an HIV-free generation. With 1.2 million Americans infected with the virus and an estimated 12 percent unaware that they are ill, this is a topic the U.S. should be talking about. But we’re not.

As Ebola ravaged nations in West Africa last year, international providers traveled to the region to lend a healing hand. America sent 65 health workers to Liberia. Cuba sent 165. Cuba, whose cultural approach to medicine teaches a sense of responsibility to help people in need, simply asks students of Havana’s Latin American Medical School (ELAM) to work in underserved world communities in exchange for their education.

Cassandra Curbelo, an American ELAM student, said that the school teaches students to “better understand what patients’ lives are like.” As America strives to achieve equal access to healthcare and transition to patient-centered care, this is a topic the U.S. should be talking about. But we’re not.

So why isn’t it a topic of discussion?

Healthcare isn’t sexy. The top social media influencers in the healthcare space are not celebrities or glamorous public figures. They are educational institutions, renowned doctors and top tier news outlets. When social media users discuss Cuba on Twitter, they aren’t talking about HIV or Ebola- they are talking about soccer, travel and Obama.



Healthcare doesn’t have the “wow” factor that many other high-profile topics have in today’s media landscape. What it does have, however, is need. The world needs healthcare; it needs access, treatment and resources. Healthcare deserves to be talked about so that it can continue to be improved.

America has a population of over 300 million people, a GDP per capita of over $50,000 and spends 17.6 percent of its total GDP on healthcare – more than any other nation. Cuba is home to just 11 million people, only slightly larger than New York City. It has a GDP per capita of about $10,000. For every $20 that the U.S. spends per capita on health, Cuba only spends about $1.

But we have comparable age structures and life expectancies. Birth rates in both countries are significantly lower than the world average. Infant mortality rates are even closer – Cuba has the 33rd lowest rate and the U.S. has the 34th.

To put that into perspective, New Jersey, one of America’s wealthiest and healthiest states, has a comparable population size to Cuba and spends over $1,000 more per capita on healthcare than the U.S. national average. Yet, the health outcomes are surprisingly similar. New Jersey’s life expectancy is only three years longer than Cuba’s and its infant mortality rate, in the lowest 15% of America, is still higher than the Caribbean country’s.

When it comes to public health, Cuba and the United States have a great deal in common despite our socioeconomic differences.

The question now becomes: What can we stand to learn from Cuba and what, in turn, can Cuba learn from us?

America’s public perception of Cuban relations is historically negative, but this new relationship provides both countries with an opportunity to collaborate for the first time since 1961. Collaboration, however, requires an open flow of both communication and information.

Regardless of personal or political beliefs, Cuba’s healthcare system is something we should be talking about because improving the quality, safety and effectiveness of the global healthcare structure is beneficial to all. Maybe we can learn from Cuba’s low-cost public health system and maybe they can learn something from our emerging health tech revolution.

As President Obama strives to foster a sense of friendship with Cuba, it is important to remember that this means an open dialogue between both nations. America needs to continue to discuss Cuba in order to understand what that friendship will mean for our country, exchange ideas on what healthcare can and should be and recognize opportunities to learn. After over half a century of silence, we can’t afford to sacrifice more.

When Brands Bark: A Genuine Voice Always Resonates

I can’t help it. I love the work that Edelman does around the trust barometer. Yes, I know, they are a competitor, but I respect great work no matter who does it. And Edelman’s brand work is great. Their latest study nicely articulates the evolution of how we should be thinking about brands. Consumers want “meaningful” interactions with brands. This goes beyond having their desires met (i.e., product reliability) and feeding their emotional needs of safety, love, esteem, etc. Consumers want brands focused on societal demands. This “cultural currency” is emerging as a key brand preference.

This is a perfect dovetail with the great work FleishmanHillard is also doing on the Authenticity Index. It released research in 2013 about the behaviors of authentic companies. Consumers identified nine drivers that can be grouped in three essential strands: management behavior, customer benefits and society outcomes. The research showed that for consumers, attributes related to corporate behavior (management behavior and impact on society) matter as much as those associated with customer care.

That is one of the reasons I think TogoRun resonates with clients – we are authentic. We know that success is not a matter of size but of daring and determination. We truly are inspired by the untold story of Togo, the husky who saved an Alaskan town in 1925. Across all our offices, the spirit of Togo is in everything we do and we challenge each other to mimic the courage, craftsmanship, creativity and commitment he demonstrated to accomplish his heroic feat.

We borrow from Togo’s rich cultural currency. Our commitment goes well beyond our drive to provide clients the best agency experience of their careers. We love helping our clients change the world. We dig deep to find their untold stories – about how they are innovating to fight disease, helping patients and improving the quality of life. We are masterful navigators working to connect their direct value to patients with the larger impact on public health, including lowering the cost to the system.

We also deliver breakthrough strategic communications that incite change. Great research, good intentions and being on the right side of an issue is simply not enough to illicit the massive societal change many of our clients can achieve. We get great satisfaction creating campaigns that move the needle on a public health issues like infectious disease, diabetes and cancer.

We do it because we love it. Our success is not measured in the many awards we’ve won but in knowing that our efforts have disrupted the status quo and improved the health and well-being of others. Although, I will say, it does feel great to be recognized by our peers with PR WEEK’S International Agency of the Year and to be a finalist for PR NEWS award for Best Advocacy Campaigns. And did I mention they voted us a Best Place to Work?

I love the TogoRun brand. It inspires me every day. Thank you FH and Edelman for giving me a framework to articulate why. Woof, Woof!

P.S. We are growing by leaps and bounds in all of our offices – NY, DC, LA and London – so if you want to jump on the sled, email us your resume!



About TogoRun

TogoRun ( is an award-winning, full-service global health and well-being communications and public affairs agency with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and London. The agency specializes in integrated marketing and communications, branding and positioning, advocacy and government affairs, issues and crisis management, and corporate communications and social responsibility.

Analyzing the Success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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TogoRun Named “International Agency Of The Year” Finalist By PRWeek

First-ever PRWeek Global Awards Recognize Agency for Transformative Work Across Multiple Countries and Best-in-Class Corporate Social Responsibility Campaign

NEW YORK, May 15, 2014 – TogoRun, a global health and well-being communications and public affairs agency, has been shortlisted as International Agency of the Year by PRWeek for this year’s inaugural PRWeek Global Awards. The agency has also been named a finalist in the Corporate Social Responsibility award category for PATH B, a Hepatitis B patient and professional engagement and education program developed for Bristol-Myers Squibb.

“We are honored to be among the outstanding agencies that have been shortlisted for these prestigious international awards,” said Gloria M. Janata, J.D, TogoRun president and senior partner. “We focus on providing our clients the best agency experience of their careers and don’t stop until we deliver the results that make a positive impact on the lives we touch and the organizations we support.”

Over the past year, TogoRun has expanded its business offering with StudioTogo – a full-service global creative shop, a growing global public affairs capability, and a U.S. West Coast office. The agency also revamped its branding, restructured its global management team, added professionals across its four offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and London, increased its client roster, and achieved an 80 percent new business win rate.

New Leadership and Client Offerings

Janata joined the agency in November 2012 and established a leadership team including TogoRun veterans New York Managing Director and Senior Partner Liliana Coletti; StudioTogo Lead and Partner Dennis DaCosta; London Managing Director Tim Geldard; and Washington, D.C., Managing Director and Partner Anne Woodbury. New talent was also added to deepen key specialty and geographic areas, including StudioTogo Creative Director Joe Gorelick; U.S. West Coast Lead Angeline McCarthy; Medical Technology Lead Ian Race; Non-Profit/Association Lead Andrew Sousa; Digital Lead Jon Tilton; and, Quality Assurance Lead Amra Turalic. The agency also created a Global Media Relations Council led by Mary Coyle that includes media experts Bryan Blatstein, Mariann Caprino, Peter Collins, Andrew Sousa, Banks Willis, Veronica Yao and Pulitzer Prize-winning/former Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal journalist Michael Waldholz.

In addition, TogoRun D.C. launched the global public affairs resource and published the Freshman Healthbook – an in-depth overview of the newly-elected members of the U.S. Congress and their positions on healthcare policy issues, which will be updated following this year’s elections.

About TogoRun

TogoRun is an award-winning, full-service global health and well-being communications and public affairs agency with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and London. The agency specializes in integrated marketing, branding, advocacy and government affairs covering the pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, health insurance, hospital, non-profit/association, medical aesthetics and beauty industries. TogoRun was shortlisted by PRWeek in 2014 for International Agency of the Year and Small Agency of the Year. TogoRun is also the recipient of the 2013 Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Silver Anvil Award for Excellence in Public Affairs; PRSA’s NY Chapter Big Apple Awards for Public Affairs and Best Use of Research, Measurement and Evaluation; and the 2012 Communiqué Excellence Award in International Media Relations. TogoRun is a sister agency to FleishmanHillard and is a part of Diversified Agency Services, a division of Omnicom Group Inc.

About Diversified Agency Services

Diversified Agency Services (DAS), a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC) (, manages Omnicom’s holdings in a variety of marketing communications disciplines. DAS includes over 200 companies, which operate through a combination of networks and regional organizations, serving international and local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries. 

Media Contact:

Mary Coyle
+1 212-453-2089

Tim Geldard
+44 20 7554 1864

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Closing the Balcony – RIP Roger Ebert

On April 4, Roger Ebert, the first-ever Pulitzer-Prize-winning film critic, died after a long battle with cancer. Working in healthcare, we often meet patients battling a disease and become inspired by their stories, ones we often use to educate the public about a particular disease state. Ebert was definitely a patient whose cancer journey inspired millions. Despite being unable to speak in the traditional sense, due to cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands, his “way with words,” via a computerized voice system, continued to resonate.

Most of us recall Ebert from his movie review television show with “rival critic,” Gene Siskel. The two reviewers would comment on a movie’s strengths or weaknesses – sometimes agreeing, often arguing. But Ebert actually began his cinematic commentary in print at the Chicago Sun-Times nearly five decades ago, and it was in those pages that he began to shape how America sees the movies. Continue reading

Using Twitter for Good


Michelle Belieber Conley
Michelle Belieber Conley rocking the classic swept bangs.

Justin Bieber, one of pop culture’s legendary “tweens” in the game right now, has more than 33 million followers on Twitter – that’s half the population of the United Kingdom! With this type of following comes massive reach, so my question is: how can “the Biebs” leverage Twitter and really do some good in the world?

There are celebrities out there that do it – actor Edward Norton (Fight Club) is one of them. He frequently tweets about charities to donate to and even shares a link on his Twitter profile section to his CrowdRise page, a digital fundraising platform, where anyone can fundraise and donate to a charity of their choice. Continue reading

From Intern to AAE
Jesse Tarlton at TogoRun. Photo: Jen Scattereggia

The word “intern” is often synonymous with getting coffee, running errands and other menial office tasks — but this is not the case with TogoRun’s internship program.

I regarded the internship program as a tryout; a chance to prove myself, and I was given the opportunities and resources to do so. I immediately became involved in different account work, working closely with all levels of staff, and doing work that had a purpose — I was creating an actual communications “product,” and that is the best thing you can ask for as an intern.

Continue reading