Nov 10, 2021

Harnessing the Power of Community, with Garrett Harding

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Garrett Harding (he/him) is the Associate Director of Community Outreach at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). In this role he plans, implements, evaluates, and leads HCI’s community outreach and engagement activities, working in collaboration with the community to build capacity for projects that reduce and address the burden of cancer in Utah and the Mountain West.

Additionally, he coordinates HCI’s 36-member Community Advisory Board and manages the Community Outreach and Prevention Education program – which is composed of Community Health Educators who provide outreach, screening, education, and connection to research, to diverse and underrepresented communities. Mr. Harding received a degree in public health from Brigham Young University. He is a trained patient navigator, certified tobacco cessation facilitator, and is fluent in Spanish.

Outside of work, he enjoys cooking, playing golf and tennis, spending time in the Utah mountains, advocating for social justice and equality, and spoiling his 7 nephews and 1 niece.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How community outreach contributes to a broader public health program and what’s required to demonstrate success
  • The most effective approaches to capture an audience’s attention around scary healthcare topics like cancer and cancer prevention
  • How Huntsman Cancer Institute’s marketing messaging found success with emphasizing small steps and without utilizing fear tactics
  • Why it’s important to consider your audience needs, and how to make messaging more inclusive
  • What mistakes Garrett made with negative messaging and how he was able to adapt his approach to be better received
  • How to prioritize community outreach and education within a healthcare organization’s broader marketing and PR efforts
  • How to effectively prioritize and communicate the organization’s brand in partnership with community outreach, marketing, and PR


Additional resources:  

Show Transcription:

Intro: Welcome to A Brave New Podcast, the podcast all about how brave entrepreneurial companies are unlocking their business potential using inbound marketing. Here's your marketing expert and host, Polly Yakovich.

Polly Yakovich: Welcome back to A Brave New Podcast. I am super happy to welcome my friend, Garrett Harding today to the podcast. Welcome, Garrett.

Garrett Harding: Welcome, Polly. It's so great to see you and catch up.

Polly Yakovich: Garrett is the associate director of community outreach for Huntsman Cancer Institute. And 1000 years ago, we worked together on a branding project for the institute. So we'll be excited to talk about branding and some of the challenges with keeping a consistent brand over the years. But also, I really just want to hear from you about community outreach, PR, marketing, how all of that works in a big institution and in a big organization that's juggling lots of priorities. So I'm super excited to have you on today.

Garrett Harding: Well, I'm super excited to be here, and thank you again, for this opportunity. I can speak on behalf of the entire communications and public affairs and community outreach and engagement teams to say that our experience working with A Brave New was fantastic, and it brought a lot of really good resources and expertise to the organization.

Polly Yakovich: And we learned where to get the best cocktails in Salt Lake City, which is the most important part of any collaboration.

Garrett Harding: Exactly. And we loved welcoming you and Josh, every time you were here, when we could travel. So looking forward to the times that we can hang out again, in-person.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah, exactly. Tell me a little bit about... I like to hear people's career arc, because I know that you have done public health, health education in college, but how did you get to your current role? What was your path to this community outreach, health education career?

Garrett Harding: Yeah. So I was actually very fortunate that after I graduated with a degree in public health and a minor in communications, I was able to start as an intern at Huntsman Cancer Institute, that was almost 11 years ago, this fall.

Polly Yakovich: Wow.

Garrett Harding: So it's definitely been a journey, specifically for me, and for everybody that's part of this team. And so as I mentioned, I was very interested in public health, from a very young age and really interested in how we can improve health not only at the individual level, but at the community level. And then this opportunity arose, and I was able to intern for about six months with the cancer institute. And for those who may not be familiar with Huntsman Cancer Institute, we're located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We are a nationally recognized comprehensive cancer center, from the National Cancer Institute. And we also have a cancer hospital as well. So our mission is really threefold of treating patients, clinical and translational and basic science and population health research. And then also the education factor of training the next generation of students and fellows and residents and postdocs, but also the education that we provide then to the community, so that they can improve their health.

Garrett Harding: So that's my career trajectory. And I've served in a whole bunch of different roles or had the opportunity to be in a few different roles here in the institution. And for about the past six or seven years, I've led our community outreach and prevention education program, and then working really closely with a lot of these other programs at the institute to really increase our coordination with the community, which we're going to get into and talk a lot about today. But it's just been, I think, something I've loved. It doesn't even feel like work, because it's something that I'm completely invested in.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. One of the funnest things for us, we talked about it a little bit, but Josh, and I did some branding work with Huntsman Cancer Institute, I think, two or three years ago now. And one of the funnest parts for me is all of the interviewing that you do as part of the branding project, and talking to all the stakeholders, about an organization, about the people who work there. But when I talk to everyone that you worked with in the community, whether they were people that had come to any of your events or people who are organizers, they just, to a person raved and raved and raved about how influential you were, how invested you were, how interactive you were, how much you listened. So I'm really excited to talk to you more about what's developed over the last couple of years. So that's really fun. But also nice to know that you love what you do and people can tell because they're so drawn to you, because you are passionate about what you're doing.

Garrett Harding: Yeah. And I appreciate you saying that, and I have to say I'm surrounded by such wonderful dedicated individuals as well that are part of the team, part of the leadership team. And recently, Huntsman Cancer Institute, we updated our guiding principles. And one of those guiding principles is patient and community first. And for so many years, it was really just the patient first. And as we take on one of the greatest health challenges of our time, chronic health challenges, right? Being cancer, we found that it's so important that it's not only the patients that are being treated, but also the larger community at large, who, we need to engage with so that we can help prevent cancer before it even forms, detect cancer early, work with that community of donors, and many, many others to really fulfill our vision, which is to deliver a cancer free frontier.

Polly Yakovich: Wow. Talk to me a little bit about what function your role serves for the institute, the organization. When they're thinking, "Okay, we need to do community outreach," what problems are they trying to solve?

Garrett Harding: Yeah. That's a great question. I think we're really divided amongst, I think I would say, we have the cancer research center and then we have the cancer hospital. And with both of those entities across our entire enterprise of the institution, I would say that my role really helps span both of those things. So that we can really take what we're hearing in the community, what the community partners are telling us, helping monitor some of the needs in the community related to cancer screening adherence or even some of the barriers to care. And then being able to bring that back to the institution and bring a voice of the community so that we say we're not just this place on the hill, and both geographically, literally, on the hill in Salt Lake City, but also something that isn't unattainable, but something that can be accessed by every single person, whatever those resources may be. Whether they be clinical, whether they be focused in research and prevention, or even in education.

Garrett Harding: So I feel a lot of my role is really bringing back a lot of that information that we're gathering from the community and helping inform things related to strategy or big and small projects or ways that we can actually build capacity in the communities. So when we say build capacity, it's not necessarily just ensuring that we're partnering with someone as a one-off, but how can we build these long-term sustainable relationships with community groups, with elected officials, with business leaders, with cancer survivors and so many others who are already engaged in this type of work, so that we can collectively impact the health of our communities. And I feel like me and the team and so many others, that's really the role that we play from a community outreach and engagement space here at the cancer center and the institute and also the larger university.

Polly Yakovich: I know it serves multiple purposes, but it reminds me I was writing a blog post today about healthcare trends, and one of them was just about patient engagement. And when you were saying that it reminded me of we always talk about putting patients at the center, but sometimes we get distracted like, it's research first or it's providers first or it's technology first. And what you described bringing those community voices back and making sure that what you're doing is meeting the needs of the community and vice versa, I think is just one important part of what you're doing, but such an important reminder, as marketers that if you don't have a direct line to our audience, we're going to get off track.

Garrett Harding: Right. And being able to prioritize what those themes are or what those specific needs of that community are. I mean, I think that's one thing that we've also been able to do, is really think about, from a marketing perspective, to always have a call to action that is going to improve the health of our community, or the health of the individual and not necessarily just selling the brand from a business perspective, right? It's very vision focused, which is our vision to deliver a cancer free frontier through scientific discovery and human touch is what we like to say.

Polly Yakovich: Talk to me a little bit about what percentage of a component is healthcare education as far as community outreach is concerned.

Garrett Harding: Yeah. I would say it's a huge component. If you think about it in the context of behavior change and really thinking about how we can improve the health of an individual through that behavior change or get them to modify something for the better good for them or for their family, I would say that's a big part of what we are focused on. One thing for example is we know that over 50% of cancers can actually be prevented. We know that through research and other studies. And so what we really build into our educational programming, is that being the core message, but then there are very specific things that we know that we can do to help people change a specific behavior.

Garrett Harding: So for example, getting screened for cancer, getting vaccinated for things like the human papilloma virus or Hepatitis B, exercising, eating healthy, all of these things, which we know we should be doing. But when you look at it as a whole, it's really daunting, right? And it's really hard to think about. But if you message it in a way that's, okay, well, right now, let's pick one of those things. Let's say I want to improve my exercise and I want to increase the amount of time that I'm exercising, maybe by 10 minutes a week. That's a more attainable goal, which makes sense for everybody. But then if you think about it, you can then say, "Okay, if I'm exercising outside, maybe I should also start protecting myself from the sun." And then you think about it like the intersectionality of these behaviors and how you can actually improve your health across a variety of those.

Garrett Harding: And so it's not trying to look at it as a whole, as daunting as it may seem to improve my health. But really, it's those instrumental factors, which I think is so key to the messaging or our health education, that's really the foundation of what we want to bring into the community.

Polly Yakovich: How have you found, what have you found, I should say, are the most effective ways to capture people's attention?

Garrett Harding: Yeah. I would say really being adaptable and being able to improvise. We here in Utah, we're not the most diverse state by any means by racial or ethnic backgrounds. But we do know that we have a growing Latino Latinx population. And we also have an opportunity to reach so many people who don't live in the urban areas, right? They're spread out across the rural areas of the state. And so the approach that we have cannot be prescriptive, right? It has to be very focused on being adaptable in that moment and being able to have the core message, but the delivery and the adaptability of that message has to be culturally tailored, it has to be tailored for age groups, for health literacy, for different education categories. And so we really take all of that into account, knowing that the message is cancer prevention, right?

Polly Yakovich: Right.

Garrett Harding: But then really working on the delivery of those so that we can ensure that we are bringing very tailored messaging to these different communities. And I think that's something that may seem, I don't know, it may seem like it's known for everybody, right? But I think it's difficult in the practice, because it takes a lot of time to do that, right?

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. Absolutely.

Garrett Harding: And a lot of effort to ensure that you're not just being completely blanket statements in your messaging.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. What you said about behavior change too, I thought, is so good and refreshing. I think some of the things that we've been seeing in recent years is just a much more empathetic approach to behavior change, right?

Garrett Harding: Right.

Polly Yakovich: I think that healthcare messaging over time, as we've grown up, we've all experienced healthcare messaging, it's like, do all these things or you're going to die. Or you could get this thing and then it's your fault, and we can't do anything for you. Or it's just more of a fear based or lots of information rather than breaking that down into small pieces. You can't really act if you're scared, you need to do one small thing at a time. You also can't just disrupt your whole life, it just isn't feasible.

Garrett Harding: Right. And it reminds me so much of tobacco marketing and tobacco messaging.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah, yeah.

Garrett Harding: Which is very fear based. And we know that that specific messaging has been very effective. By saying smoking kills or you're going to get lung cancer, potentially, right? Sometimes they say potentially, other times it's very much a blanket statement of you're going to get this specific type of cancer based on your behavior. And I think one thing that we've learned that is specific to our work in the cancer institute, is we are actually treating patients who smoke, who have lung cancer. So our messaging cannot be that, right? Because they're going to see that messaging and say, "Okay, why are you fear mongering? Or why are you approaching us with this fear tactic?" Whereas an entity like the Health Department, that makes a lot of sense, right? For them to utilize that type of messaging and marketing.

Garrett Harding: And for us, we've been very cautious to be able to say, "It doesn't matter what caused your cancer," right? "Whether it was an addictive behavior, whether it was sexual behavior," like human papilloma virus, which is a sexually transmitted infection, "at the end of the day, we don't care how you got your cancer, we're here to treat it." And I think that is a very different message from other potential healthcare entities or public health entities, because we are seeing patients and we also are communicating prevention messages. And we're also doing research. And so we really have to find that balance between the fear and the positive marketing and really finding the niche, which ensures that we're being inclusive. And not, I guess, dividing.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. And I think for long-term healthcare messaging for things that are preventive, whether it's getting a screening or taking care of your skin when you're out in the sun, small steps, I think, have been proven to be more effective in actually driving that behavior change.

Garrett Harding: Exactly. And we're very fortunate we have a ton of experts, right? Who are experts in clinical psychology and behavior change and public health and translating that research into implementation science and other interventions that we can then partner with them, and we can bring that to the community, right? And the scientists can bring that science and their studies, and we can help adapt that and really message it in, and in collaboration with, I should say, so many of our community stakeholders and partners and contacts and others who are really the ones who are boots on the ground. They're the ones living in that space, and relying on their expertise.

Polly Yakovich: What are some examples of success you've seen in recent years in the community outreach space? What are some things that you've celebrated that have gone really well or have been breakthroughs for you?

Garrett Harding: There's a few. I would say one thing that's been really effective, has been in the cancer screening space. So Utah historically, has ranked fairly low for adherence to routine breast cancer mammography screening. And so in the past couple of years, we have debuted a cancer screening and education bus. So it's a mobile mammography unit, that's equipped with the latest tomosynthesis or 3D x-rays and mammography technology. And the main goal of that program was to really reach these women or women who identify as women or individuals who have breast tissue to be able to be screened and reduce those barriers to care.

Garrett Harding: And so we've been able to debut this and what we've seen over the past couple of years, even during COVID pending, is that over 50% of this population that has been screened on the bus are uninsured, underrepresented disadvantaged communities who may not have this full access to all of the services of the cancer institute and the cancer hospital. So I think that's one thing that's really been celebrated in the community outreach and engagement space, because we're actually bringing services to individuals in collaboration with so many of these partners, rather than just say-

Polly Yakovich: Do this.

Garrett Harding: ... "Go get your mammogram." It's not that simple, right?

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. Yeah.

Garrett Harding: The real reason that Utah is low in our mammography cancer screening, it's not because there's a lack of insurance, it's so many other things like women putting their families first, right? And their healthcare second. And the timing of the clinics that are open if someone is working, and they can't take the time off. And so trying to look at some of those non traditional barriers, I think is so key to the success of this work, rather than just saying, "Go get your mammogram."

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

Garrett Harding: In a marketing capacity messaging.

Polly Yakovich: Talk about something that, if you're able to share, can you talk about something that failed or that you didn't go well, that you've learned from?

Garrett Harding: Yeah. I think one thing that I've learned, I would say it's a recurring theme, is really, I think, going back to that gain framed and negative framed messaging and the binary of both of those things. I think we learned very early on, for example, with radon testing. So for those who may not know what radon is, it's an odorless, colorless gas that naturally occurs in the soil and when it decomposes, it can seep into your homes and your office buildings and schools and other things. And it can cause lung cancer over time, if it's inhaled. And so I think we learned early on that when we were messaging about radon, we started saying it's radioactive, we would use those, almost that icon that everybody knows that is the radioactive icon. And really saying radon causes lung cancer. And we were able to learn pretty quickly, I think, from the community that that was not as effective.

Garrett Harding: And so being able to switch and adapt to saying, "Okay, well, how can we actually get a handle on this?" Right? And one way is to actually test your home for radon. And so there is a step, there is a behavior that you can take to learn how much radon you have been exposed to in your home.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah, it's proactive.

Garrett Harding: It's proactive. Exactly. And so instead of taking the reactive approach or the fear based, thinking about cancer, we were able to really translate this to say, "This is something positive that you can do for the health, for yourself and for your family. And as a result, you can learn how much radon is in your home and then based on that, you can take action, and you can mitigate your home or take additional steps like retesting or other things." And really looking at, I guess, the process of all of that, to ensure that we learned from previous experience of how something was marketed and communicated in the community to now, how we are doing that in collaboration with others. And it's been almost black and white.

Polly Yakovich: That's amazing. It reminds me too, of something that we talk about when we talk about brands is when you approach your constituency in the way that you just talked about, you build trust and you build loyalty. And even as healthcare providers, I think in the old school healthcare approach that was more fear based, it's like, well, when you get sick, you have to come see us anyways. And there's not a lot of competition. So we're just going to tell you like it is and you can pick and choose, but now we all have to face competition, people have options, people have choices, they may not utilize our services. And if we want to serve people, we need people to utilize our services and trust us. And so when you do use this more proactive messaging, empowering patients or potential patients or constituents, you build a lot of brand loyalty and trust that way.

Garrett Harding: Exactly. And I will say, our brand of Huntsman Cancer Institute is very strong in the community. And I think so much of that is reflective of the patient experience and the high patient satisfaction scores that we've had since opening the cancer hospital. And people remember that, right? Cancer is such a life changing, life altering diagnosis, and being able to be there and provide emotional support, treatment physically, treatment emotionally, I think has a real impact, and as a result so much of the brand in our community has been because of so much of the word of mouth from the patients that we've had the privilege and the honor of being able to treat.

Garrett Harding: And then as a result of that, that really allows us to expand outside of the patient care space, right? And say, "Now we want to collaborate and we want to communicate some of the breakthroughs of the science that we have, the really fantastic science and the other interventions that can help benefit the communities." Because for so long people just think of the healthcare institution as treating the patient. And it is so much more than that now, right? It's the wellness, it's the community benefit, it's the community engagement. And we have a responsibility as health systems to really improve the lives of those in our communities. And I [inaudible 00:25:51] believe that. And it takes a strong brand to be able to do that.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. Talk to me a little bit about some behind the scenes nuts and bolts. So I think despite... I mean, for the best organizations, once you're a big healthcare system with, in the nicest possible way, competing priorities, right? You have a hospital, you have research, you have marketing, you have communications, you have all these things. How do you advocate, internally, to prioritize community outreach, healthcare education, things that are vital to the health of an organization? How do those things get prioritized for you? How do you advocate that internally in the organization?

Garrett Harding: Well, one way is we have an established Community Advisory Board.

Polly Yakovich: Oh, that's great.

Garrett Harding: So this Community Advisory Board is comprised of 36, it's quite large, about 36, as we like to call them, ambassadors of Huntsman Cancer Institute. And they are leaders in a variety of areas. So we have elected officials, we have business leaders, we have religious leaders, represented, in addition to those that maybe working in public health or comprehensive cancer control. And then those that have community organizations that serve the Latino community, the Asian American community, Pacific Islander, LGBTQ, our caregivers, our patients. And so we have a very large breadth of community ambassadors that are really helping us prioritize and be the voice of the communities that they specifically represent.

Garrett Harding: And so when the Community Advisory Board was established, one of the key goals of that is we want them to help guide a lot of the high level work of where we may want to put resources or what projects we need to engage in. And that has had tremendous support from our leadership and our executive teams. And I've felt very honored to be a part of that work. And that is a forum that I think from behind the scenes is really helping us guide many aspects of the work, including, as you mentioned, the health education, but also some of the screening components and some of the community engaged research projects that some of our population health scientists are engaged in. And I think that's been a model that many other cancer centers have. But for the past three and a half, four years, we've had that forum. And I think it's been really exciting, because we're learning many things, many things, that we have not had in the past.

Polly Yakovich: Well, and I think, again, just to go back to how important it is to hear from your constituency, even when you're out, hearing from them, yourself representing them, there's just things that you don't hear or there are things that you assume that are a little off course. You have to hear directly from people because there's always those missing elements that even if you have been really connected to them or representing them, you would miss things that are vital.

Garrett Harding: Absolutely. And I think the biggest mistake I think a lot of people make is that we stereotype these groups, right?

Polly Yakovich: Yeah.

Garrett Harding: And we assume that someone's life experience is the same as ours or that these diverse communities, maybe they're a new American or immigrant communities, that they're all the same, right? Or we make these assumptions about even their behaviors or what or they may think about the brand or the institution in and of itself, and what we've learned is of course, that is not the case. And every specific community, every individual has very specific needs. And I think one of the things that we really strive for which we can always work on, is ensuring that those needs are met. Because they're, Polly, to your point, if we ask the community, what they think and then we don't fulfill that, that's almost worse than not even asking them, right? So there is a sense of responsibility that we have, that we take this very seriously that if we do engage outside groups and community partners, we want to be able to fulfill that.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. Do members of your leadership or executive team also attend the community?

Garrett Harding: Absolutely.

Polly Yakovich: That's great.

Garrett Harding: Yep. Yeah.

Polly Yakovich: That's great.

Garrett Harding: They attend the semiannual meetings and then they're engaged with them across a variety of things. And I think it's just one of the great joys, honestly, of this work that we do, is being involved with that specific aspect of the board.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. Talk about how you interact with marketing, comms, PR, how do you collaborate internally? How do you lean on them? How do you get what you need out of those groups?

Garrett Harding: Yeah. I feel-

Polly Yakovich: Those famously spread thin groups, that everyone, in the nicest possible way, vying for time and resources.

Garrett Harding: Absolutely. We have a unique model here at Huntsman Cancer Institute. I would say I have a dual reporting structure. So I report up through the community outreach and engagement, but then I also report up through public affairs and marketing and communications. And that's, I think, a unique model. Because there are a lot of businesses who have that community benefit, maybe they call it community benefit, maybe they call it something else, and then they have their PR marketing. And being able to be a part of both of those groups, I think really helps bridge the opportunity because PR is working with the community, but on a different scale than it is with the community engagement, which is really the hands-on partnership building and day-to-day.

Garrett Harding: And I think it's worked extremely well for us, from my perspective, because if there is something, for example related to cancer screening, that really falls into that community outreach screening space, but then it also falls into the marketing space, because we want to increase the number of individuals coming into the healthcare system from a business perspective and ensuring that they are also screened, we have that natural collaboration to frame the messaging to think about non traditional marketing approaches.

Garrett Harding: So instead of just like the two predominantly huge newspapers here in our market or the four radio stations, we can say, actually we became aware of a really wonderful Latino newspaper that's really focused on these neighborhoods in the Salt Lake Valley, that are Spanish speaking. And wouldn't it be amazing if we actually did some marketing there, as opposed to just always thinking about the general high traffic viewership from PR sponsored ads or other things? And that's, I guess, one example of really being able to say, if we didn't have somebody in the community engagement space, knowing that that even existed, because we're already working with organizations that are working with that specific media company, we maybe wouldn't have thought about that. And so that's allowed us to really get into very tailored marketing approaches and meeting people in different languages and ensuring that they also have access to our resources.

Polly Yakovich: That's incredible. And I think, too, as a marketer, putting my marketer hat on, having access to your insights coming out of the community is absolutely invaluable.

Garrett Harding: Absolutely. And I can't thank our community enough because they're really the ones who know what their community needs, not the academic healthcare system who thinks with their academic hat rather than some of the more lay person or someone who is just living their life and not thinking about academics, right?

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. And like we talked about before having access to some of the challenges that aren't academic, that are real life obstacles to getting care.

Garrett Harding: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. And that's something that I think PR and marketing plays a huge role in, that maybe we traditionally don't think about. But I think we've had a lot of success in.

Polly Yakovich: That's great. How does the brand influence your efforts? How do you care take the brand when you're bridging across all these different departments and functions and needs?

Garrett Harding: Yeah. I think the brand at its core, it's very strong. A lot of people know the brand and the community of Huntsman Cancer Institute as a whole. We're also part of the University of Utah, and the University of Utah is the flagship university of the state and one of the most recognizable brands in the region. And so there's those things that are playing in our favor, of course.

Garrett Harding: But when we think about, I think, bridging and how that brand, I think, adds value, I will say it's made it easier for us in the community engagement space, to be able to identify prospective partners, whether they be for clinical projects or research projects. Because they know the wonderful work that is happening in the hospital and it has really allowed us to build on that.

Garrett Harding: So whatever forces, there's multiple things that are obviously contributing to the wonderful brand. But I feel like we're mostly recipients of that, because we're able to hear that not only in community events when we meet individuals and they say, "My partner was treated for breast cancer." Or, "My mom was treated for ovarian cancer." Everybody knows someone who's been treated for cancer, some of them, and a lot of them, specifically in our institution and in our health care system. And so that really plays to our advantage.

Garrett Harding: But at the core, it's also helpful for us because we know what our mission is, cancer is everything we do. And so it's pretty easy to say, "Does this fall within our scope?" And if it does, then let's go full throttle, pedal to the metal investing in resources and projects. And if it falls out of that scope, we can rely on the larger health system or the larger university to really support those efforts.

Polly Yakovich: This has been so helpful. I love talking to you. And it always gives me lots of ideas. What trends are you seeing right now? What things are on your roadmap? Like, "I'd like to try that." Or, "I've seen this working somewhere else and I think it could work for us."? Even on the marketing comm side. What are some things that are on your roadmap for next year?

Garrett Harding: Yeah. We've been really looking at what those priorities are, right? For the coming year. One thing that... We're living with COVID right now. And as a healthcare system and as part of the larger healthcare system at the University of Utah, that's something that we can't escape. And so when you think of trends, I mean, I'm going to start with one thing, specifically, and then we'll talk about some of the other things. But one thing that came to my mind was the delay in adherence to cancer screenings. We know that when everything shut down in the world [crosstalk 00:38:33].

Polly Yakovich: Actually when you were talking I was like, "Oh, I think I'm really overdue for a mammogram." It's true.

Garrett Harding: Yeah. Exactly. And what we have seen, I mean, there's been some data and there's been some models, but one model like from the National Cancer Institute, it looked at breast cancer death and colorectal cancer predictions, and they found that there would be an excess of over 10,000 deaths over the next 10 years, because of the pandemic related delays in diagnosing these tumors.

Polly Yakovich: Wow.

Garrett Harding: And so that is, I mean, that's a 1% increase over the number of expected deaths, which is huge. And so one thing if you think about trends, we really want to mitigate that. And we want to ensure that, even though that happened for the past year, we're going to nip it in the bud and we're going to really go full throttle and ensure that we are marketing the importance of getting cancer screenings, not delaying any of your health screenings. And putting a lot of effort toward even the education surrounding that. And-

Polly Yakovich: I've seen a lot of interesting positive messaging about catching up. And we know there were good reasons for this, but let's not delay further.

Garrett Harding: Yeah. So I think one of our big marketing efforts moving forward is really in that space. And ensuring that for so long, at least we don't want to see that trend, right? We want to make sure that those long-term outcomes are better and they're better managed. And we can only do that by awareness and education and marketing and all of those things that we know have been effective in getting the word out, specifically related to the pandemic caused healthcare problems, one of which is cancer, because cancer also isn't going away, right?

Polly Yakovich: Yeah.

Garrett Harding: It's one of the biggest health challenges of our time, and our teams have been fully dedicated during this entire pandemic. But now, one of the challenges is engaging the community to ensure that they're up-to-date with their screenings.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. That's so great. I have one last question, but any final thoughts before I ask you my last question? Anything I didn't cover or I should have asked or that's on your mind?

Garrett Harding: I don't think so, the time went so fast, Polly.

Polly Yakovich: I know. I love chatting with you.

Garrett Harding: Yeah.

Polly Yakovich: My last question, I love it so much, what would you say is your superpower?

Garrett Harding: Polly, that's a-

Polly Yakovich: What makes you uniquely able to do what you do and sit between two departments successfully in the healthcare system, which is unheard of?

Garrett Harding: That's such a difficult question, because it's not, what do you want your superpower to be, right?

Polly Yakovich: No. It's what is it? What is it?

Garrett Harding: It's what is my current superpower. I would say being able to build and maintain relationships with so many different type of people. And that is, I think what I find the most joy in, in my job is, I am able to engage daily, with such fantastic researchers and clinicians and providers and marketers and experts in this space. But then I also, which is the better part, I'm able to work with the community. And being able to work with so many, maybe just individuals, but then all the way up to champions and leaders in their respective fields. And I think that is unique to this role. And I think it's unique to me. And yes, I'm an extrovert, but I think so often, I find my joy just in being able to connect these relationships and build these relationships so that at the end of the day, it's working toward the larger mission of Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. That's an incredible superpower. And I agree that you have it. What do you think is underneath it? Is it curiosity? Do you just like people?

Garrett Harding: I think there's a drive that's definitely there for me to want to contribute in a positive way to our society. And I think the work in which we're engaged and that I'm engaged and leading is part of that. And I think that's at the core... I never imagine doing anything else, outside of this health space. But knowing that we have the potential to impact so many people for the better and using marketing skills and using communication skills to achieve that, is just something that brings me so much happiness and so much joy. And if you don't find joy in your work, then you probably shouldn't be doing that work.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. Yeah.

Garrett Harding: So that's probably what's running through my veins, for lack of a better metaphor. And it's really seeing that we can have an impact on our communities.

Polly Yakovich: That's great. That's so incredible. Thank you for your time. Can't appreciate it more.

Garrett Harding: You're welcome, Polly. It's been such a privilege to be able to talk with you and catch up. And we are so grateful for the Brave New team and for your expertise and friendship, and we hope to have you in Salt Lake soon.

Polly Yakovich: I know. We need to travel again.

Garrett Harding: We need to travel again.

Polly Yakovich: Tell people where they can find out what you're doing, catch up with you, keep in touch with you.

Garrett Harding: Yeah. So I guess the best way is to visit

Polly Yakovich: Great. We'll link to it in the show notes. Also, Garrett's on LinkedIn. I'm sure he will accept your friend request.

Garrett Harding: Absolutely. Please, please request all of the things that you may need, and I think this is such an opportunity to even meet other people who are engaged in this work, which is-

Polly Yakovich: Amazing.

Garrett Harding: Which is amazing.

Polly Yakovich: All right. Thank you.

Garrett Harding: Thank you, Polly.

Outro: Thanks for listening to this episode of A Brave New Podcast. Go to for more resources and advice. If you enjoyed this episode, show us some love by subscribing, rating and reviewing A Brave New Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.


Polly Yakovich

Polly Yakovich



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