Using QR Codes: Where, When and Why for Hospital and Medical Practice Advertising

HSS QR Code There are several PR dynamics at work in the Athens Banner-Herald article titled QR Technology Helps Women Schedule Mammograms.

First, it’s a sterling example of good hospital public relations for the Athens (GA) Regional Health Service. The high-tech spin (about Quick Response codes) draws women (the target audience) into the story about mammogram screenings. Women can quickly and easily book an online mammogram request. And overall, the article educates readers about the workings and benefits of QR codes for a smartphone-equipped audience.

The use of QR codes in hospital and healthcare advertising is still relatively new. Thus the explanation of the 2-D bar codes for the public helps the adoption curve. Sectors of the general public are still getting acquainted with the business of scanning the codes that appear with increasing frequency in advertisements.

If you’re planning to use QR codes, consider an educational step or simple line of adjacent text to encourage a scan. The bar codes digitally store a lot of content in a small space, enabling smartphone code readers to connect the user with a website page, maps, phone numbers, email or other QR capability.

Consumers have seen bar codes in supermarkets for years. But now that smartphone ownership—with QR reading ability—is reaching mainstream status, the number of adults using QR codes is on the upswing.

Among the benefits to marketing and advertising is that the use of QR codes typically occurs at the moment when the reader is most interested in the subject matter and likely to act. (Often this activity can be tracked.) In many applications, the objective is to provide an easy means for the reader to act now.

Consider the audience profile in your QR planning

About 14 million US adults used QR codes in June of this year, according to digital business analytics company comScore, Inc. Although this was the first time that comScore measured QR code use, industry observers expect continued growth among America’s mobile audience.

The primary user qualifier with QR codes is, of course, ownership of a smartphone. Presently, smartphone ownership tends to be more upscale. But if your target audience doesn’t have a smartphone, doesn’t have a bar code reader installed and/or has never used a QR code, this tool isn’t likely to be helpful.

That said, some QR code user demographics are emerging. The comScore survey data says QR code users are more likely to be male (60.5%), between the ages of 18 to 34 (53.4%) and have a household income in excess of $100,000 (36.1%),

Magazines and newspapers are the preferred vehicle for scanning QR codes (49.4%), followed by product packaging (34.3%). The preferred place to scan was at home (58%) and then retail stores (39.4%).

Where, when and why QR codes are useful

Above and beyond appearing in the corner of traditional print ads and packaging, here is a wide-ranging roundup of other marketing, advertising and public relations moments where QR codes can be found in the retail sector.

Depending on the business circumstances and marketing objectives, some of these ideas can be useful in healthcare marketing, hospital advertising and medical practice applications. Admittedly, some may be more useful than others, but a wide range of ideas inspires brainstorming and creative adaptation.

In random and sometimes overlapping order, QR codes may be useful on or with:

  • Billboards and outdoor signage
  • Brochures, flyers, newsletters, coupons
  • Community event display tables (health fair, chamber functions)
  • Custom logo adaptations
  • Customer/patient feedback and satisfaction survey on receipts and checkout papers
  • Dental office ceiling or similar unexpected site
  • Directional signs, maps, event info boards
  • Email (signature block), business cards, name tags
  • Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or other social media connection
  • Inside signs, posters, labels
  • Journal and publication articles
  • Launch a podcast
  • Links to patient education or how-to videos
  • Online advertisements or special web pages
  • Print advertising (newspapers, magazines, direct mail)
  • Product data, specs or user reviews on displays and/or labels
  • Product reorder or service recall schedule
  • RSVP on event direct mail
  • T-shirts, clothing
  • Windows, showcase, reception area displays

A related article, 6 Things You Need to Know About QR Codes for Healthcare Marketing & Advertising, is available on our blog as additional reference.

We’re available to help you decode QR codes

Wherever they are used, QR codes pack a lot of additional marketing and advertising capability and leverage. They can connect, engage and convert a prequalified audience, or provide an easy and immediate action step for the user. We can help you decode QR codes in defining objectives and integrating QR codes in your healthcare, medical or hospital advertising.

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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