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Symptom-Targeting and Other Healthcare Marketing Trends for 2012 Watch List

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

With the approaching New Year, we like to look ahead for emerging trends in healthcare delivery and medical marketing. On our “new technology” list, there are three concepts (among many) that we’ll be watching closely in 2012. Marketing savvy doctors, administrators, dentists, hospital marketing and advertising professionals might want to keep these topics on your personal radar.

The Virtual Doc: We’ve been watching the world of Telemedicine or TeleHealth grow in popularity over the past couple of years, and 2012 may be a break-out period in both healthcare delivery systems and medical marketing. As one example, a few innovative physicians now schedule “Skype Consultations” for prospective new patients—this in addition to those practices providing online “office” visits with established patients.

The retail pharmacy industry has taken a page from this IT playbook. In the coming months you’ll hear more about NowClinic, the first-of-their-kind virtual clinic kiosks that Rite-Aid is installing in store locations. A real-time, online conversation with a nurse is free, and talking to a doctor is $45 for a 10-minute session. What’s more several health insurance systems provide similar online consultations.

Symptom-Targeted Advertising: Watch for more inroads by the startup company Sickweather, a site that you can visit here.  Sickweather is an interesting spin on social media as an informal, crowdsourcing health network. They describe it as “sickness forecasting and mapping.”

We haven’t seen advertising on the beta site yet, but hospital, healthcare and pharma marketing and advertising folks and even doctors’ offices will be watching for an opportunity to tap into a specific audience-in-need that is tracking and reporting symptoms from colds and flu to pink eye and allergies.

The Doc in Your Pocket: As smartphones continue to proliferate far and wide, the “incredible shrinking provider” phenomenon puts more healthcare services in the consumer’s pocket. One example from this trend list is the mobile app Dental Anywhere. Obviously, this one is for dentists and dental offices, but the concept transfers easily across the professional disciplines.

Patients who are smartphone enabled—BlackBerry, iPhone and Android devices—can communicate with their dentist about pain, request an appointment, do paperwork, get directions and reminders, along with other features and benefits. Patients can even recommend their dentist to others.

We have several other trends and tech-advances on our watch list for the New Year and we’ll be writing about them as developments break through. What are the hot topics on your medical marketing radar for 2012? We’d love to hear your ideas.


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