Precision Health Communication: Introducing Gretel®

Precision Health Communication: Introducing Gretel®

 In PR Strategy, Social Media

While JPA has been building our health communications influence data for more than ten years, today we rebranded that effort as Gretel®. GRETEL builds on what was the JPA Profiler (now GRETEL Profiler), which helps our clients understand and work with advocacy groups. Integrated with the Profiler, we now have millions of points of data that measure the influence of advocates along with journalists, healthcare providers and other targeted audiences.

Working with our partners at Graphika, JPA developed audience maps made up of tens of thousands of healthcare influencers. To see which audiences reference which publications AND to track which influencers they mention, JPA indexed and ranked this publicly available information on Twitter for more than a year.

Several years ago, we were running reports to identify which media outlets would cover a diet-related story. It brought to light the vast differences in data from distinct parts of the year. Medical conferences, publication schedules and yearly patterns, such as New Year’s resolutions and the start of the school year, all impact editorial strategy and online conversations. We also noticed that relying on historical data alone limits the possibilities.

GRETEL helps identify larger trends in healthcare (overall and around specific issues) to better target and report results to clients. GRETEL often identifies behavior that, at first, seems counter-intuitive, but on further reflection makes absolute sense. 

Many were surprised in June when the new non-profit health organization created by Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway appointed Atul Gawande to be their CEO. We looked at GRETEL for insight.

Even though Gawande is a surgeon and wrote a book on how to improve outcomes in the operating room (The Checklist Manifesto, 2009), he does not rank highly in GRETEL as someone mentioned by medical professionals. He is, however, at the top of the rankings within the patient advocate audience segment, which indicates that advocacy organizations and individual advocates reference him frequently. In turn, this tends to indicate that Gawande has a high level of credibility and trust amongst patient advocates. Understanding where he is influential may shed some light on the direction the new venture is heading as it aims to shake up the healthcare industry.

While our years of experience as communications professionals allows us to quickly identify the journalists who would be interested in a specific story, GRETEL surfaces data on which publications and journalists uniquely reach targeted audiences. This often unearths unexpected media opportunities and helps tailor strategy.

Within months of STAT News launching a few years ago, an earlier version of GRETEL showed it as one of the top-cited publications across all health audiences. This was well before STAT became the well-known outlet it is today.

At the journalist level, not every reporter at a publication reaches every audience equally. Keeping with the STAT example, Helen Branswell is one of the outlet’s most influential journalists. While cancer patient advocates cite STAT frequently, they aren’t often citing her stories. Why? Because Branswell predominantly focuses on infectious disease and global health. On the other hand, oncologists cite her more often than any other STAT reporter, even though she doesn’t directly cover cancer. Why? Because medical professionals cite her stories in peer-to-peer conversations around significant health topics that go beyond their specialization.

Gina Kolata at The New York Times has almost the opposite GRETEL profile of Helen Branswell. Kolata is highly cited by cancer patient advocates, but rarely by oncologists. These insights about audience segments within a singular topic, like oncology, help us tailor media strategy for our clients.

As the communications arena continues to grow and become more complex, GRETEL helps identify the paths needed to more precisely and efficiently reach the audiences that matter most.

To learn more about GRETEL visit