A bold new direction for Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts

Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts both have a long history of service and accomplishments to be proud of. It’s a strong foundation to build a promising future upon. And now there is even more reason to be excited about the future of both Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts.

Heartbeat magazine spoke with Mended Hearts Executive Director Michele Packard-Milam, CAE, about the bold new steps the organization is taking to serve even more heart patients and families than ever before, and to expand our impact on the communities we serve.

Heartbeat: Explain how the theme of “independence” impacts Mended Hearts and the new direction the organization is taking.

Michele Packard-Milam: We have been affiliated with either the American Heart Association (AHA) or the American College of Cardiology (ACC) for the past 19 years. While these were terrific relationships that helped us immensely in their day, we weren’t able to stretch our wings as much as we would have liked.

Being tucked up under other associations’ wings also kept our brand from becoming as well-known as it should be, given that fact that we’re 63 years old and have visited literally millions of patients and families! We need the Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts brands to be ubiquitous — meaning that people need to recognize them as readily as they recognize the American Heart Association, with whom we are often confused.

Because of this confusion, we are creating new logos and slogans for both Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts. These new logos will give us a springboard to express our broader mission, of helping patients who are dealing with all types of cardiovascular disease.

HB: What are some concrete examples of how that might play out in the coming months?

MPM: We will launch the new logos in August 2014. We will redesign our websites in the fall, not only to include the new logos, but also to make visits to our sites more interactive and productive. We will also be designing the new HeartPack, which will debut in January 2015. The next-generation HeartPack will be interactive and will serve as an organizational tool for patients and caregivers. It will help them organize their paperwork, plan their conversations with healthcare providers, and assist with medication management. The new HeartPack will also be interactive on the website, and for the first time, we’ll be developing an app for both smartphones and tablets that will mirror this useful interactivity.

Being independent also means that we’re free to participate in any kind of coalition that we choose, including opportunities with AHA and ACC, simultaneously. We are no longer constrained from working with any coalition we want for advocacy or public health. We can choose what suits our needs for advocacy, funding, research, insurance coverage, patients’ rights and any other issues that help us deliver on our mission of saving lives and improving patient outcomes.

HB: What will need to change to fully embrace this new independence?

MPM: Throughout our history, the chapters have functioned independently from National, and vice versa. In this new, self-determining environment, it’s obvious that we have to pull hard, and we have to pull together. The National Office and the chapters need to agree on a course of action and pursue it with laser focus. I am hoping that the chapters will want to participate more fully in the direction the National Office is pursuing.

To express what this could mean to the whole organization, I’m rolling out a concept called “From 2 to 10 in 5.” I plan to take us from a $2 million organization to a $10 million organization in 5 years. To reach this aggressive goal, we must coordinate our energy on all fronts.

We have a wonderful system in place that touches more than two million patient lives every year. It’s a very personal, high-impact model of outreach. While personal contact sets us apart from all other organizations and it needs to continue, we need MORE. More types of patients — beyond surgical, including all cardiovascular diseases. More age groups and more diverse populations need to become part of what we’re doing. And we need to go top-to- top, at the business level, into more hospital systems. We’re going to talk to the CEOs of hospital corporations instead of individual hospitals. It’s going to change the scale and scope of what we do. And that will attract more and different sponsors and advertisers to our publications and events, which will help fund these new strategies.

HB: What will this mean for Mended Little Hearts?

MPM: Mended Little Hearts just celebrated its 10th anniversary, which is a wonderful milestone for our fastest-growing program. Like Mended Hearts, however, Mended Little Hearts is not as recognizable as it should be. MLH needs to standardize its infrastructure and help its new groups launch with guidelines and best practices already in place. Further, MLH needs to realize its funding potential, which is significant. With every one out of 110 births resulting in a congenital heart defect, there’s no doubt that the need is there, and we can address that need by getting MLH “on the map” as a strong, self-funded brand.

I believe — strongly — that we can go from 2 to 10 in 5 by pulling hard and pulling together. Let’s celebrate independence by doing more and being more.

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