Love ‘em or Hate ‘em: Creative QR Codes in Hospital Marketing

HSS QR Code Quick Response, or QR Codes, just might be the fastest-growing marketing and advertising tool in quite a while. And it could be your new best friend for more efficient hospital marketing.

The trouble is, they are still new. They are a cause for celebration in some professional marketing ranks, but they remain a complete mystery to some consumer segments. A survey by UK market researchers Simpson Carpenter suggests that a majority of consumers (64%) don’t know much about QR codes, and only 11 percent of their respondents had used them.

Meanwhile, the Comscore research people say about 14 million US adults used QR on their mobile devices in June this year. What’s more, the frequency of use is growing, and better than half the audience has an up-scale household income.

It remains to be seen if this will be thought of as The Year of the QR Code. But the new capability in QR—connecting the offline world of static media (print, outdoor, direct mail) to the trackable online world via a smartphone—is a remarkable advancement.

Bigger Than Life QR Code Success Stories

Creative QR Code applications for hospital marketing should include uses beyond in the corner of a print ad. Some recent QR success stories from retail serve as inspiration:

  • Calvin Klein replaced three prominent outdoor billboards with a bright red headline reading “Get It Uncensored” above an equally red QR Code. They helped launch the campaign for new products via a 40-second commercial that played on the smartphone.
  • placed QR Codes on billboards around Chicago blending QR Codes with Groupon-type daily deals nearby. The first billboard was a 600-square foot code in the South Loop. Pedestrians would show the downloaded coupon on their phone to receive the discount.

How Hospitals Are Using QR Codes

Some hospitals have successfully jumped on the QR Code bandwagon to make it easier for their patients to connect with them:

  • TriStar Health System in Nashville announced that it would begin incorporating a QR code in its Fast ER Wait Times campaign that links consumers to information about the average emergency room wait times at hospitals in Middle Tennessee. This enables people to get real-time information when every moment counts.
  • Athens Regional Health Services in Georgia started including QR Codes in its print ads that encouraged women to sign up for mammograms through their smartphones. The result? They’ve noted that 15 percent of the request form’s traffic is coming from QR Codes.
  • BlueCross BlueShield began adding QR Codes to their billing statements and a few of their other printed pieces. How is it working? They’re saving money because a QR Code can consolidate information into a very small area that you would print on multiple pages.
  • QR Codes are used to launch maps and directions to local farmer’s markets as part of Inova Health System’s Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign in the Northern Virginia region.
  • At Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center (and elsewhere), QR Codes are used along with directional signs to allow a visitor to download a facility map to their smartphone.

Because of their growing popularity and consumer acceptance, QR Codes are finding creative applications in hospital marketing and advertising. For smartphone-equipped audiences, they are a trackable means to proactively connect and engage with an audience.

For more about QR Codes, read 6 Things You need To Know About QR Codes For Healthcare Marketing and Advertising and Why You Need to Explain QR Codes in Physician Practice Advertising and How to Do It Right.

Please let us know how you are using Quick Response Codes in hospital marketing and advertising. Some people are getting mighty creative. Where does this fit for you?

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director at Healthcare Success
Over the years Stewart has personally marketed and consulted for over 1,457 healthcare clients, ranging from private practices to multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, he has marketed a variety of America’s leading companies, including Citicorp, J. Walter Thompson, Grubb & Ellis, Bally Total Fitness, Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan. Stewart co-founded our company, and today acts as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. He is also a frequent author and speaker on the topic of healthcare marketing. His personal accomplishments are supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.



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