5 online 'marketing opportunities' hospitals are missing

From the Nobody Asked Me But Dept. ...

Doctor-Thumbs up

Doctors twittering from the operating room is so yesterday.

(2011's 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries)

"Brain Surgery Cam"? Now that one got my attention when reading The Sunday New York Times:

The point of Shila Renee Mullins's brain surgery was to remove a malignant tumor threatening to paralyze her left side. But Methodist University Hospital in Memphis also saw an opportunity to promote the hospital to prospective patients.

So, a video Webcast of Ms. Mullins's awake craniotomy, in which the patient remains conscious and talking while surgeons prod and cut inside her brain, was promoted with infomercials and newspaper advertisements featuring a photograph of a beautiful model, not Ms. Mullins.

While "Brain Surgery Cams" are all the rage on YouTube, medical industry ethicists quoted by the Times did raise concerns about such practices. These ethicists apparently do not understand today's health care marketplace ... nor do they watch much reality TV.

Tony Cotrupi, a health care marketing consultant, said hospitals "have come to marketing dragging and kicking, but because things are so competitive they have to." Patients "used to go like sheep wherever the doctor sent us," he said, and spent "more time researching what kind of toaster to buy."

"But now, you have the curious consumer," Mr. Cotrupi said, "and hospitals are doing all they can to open up the kimono."

They most certainly are not doing all they can ... but, fortunately, I am here to help. Whereas Cotrupi would charge a healthy arm and a leg for this kind of advice, I offer the following marketing concepts free to any hospital willing to name a wing after me.

Who's Faking Cam: We've all seen those hospital pain charts: scale of 1 to 10 ... 1 is realizing it's Monday morning, 10 is a kidney-sized kidney stone. Our "Who's Faking Cam" will watch as 10 patients describe their pain and pick a number. One contestant is actually an actor trying out for a part on "House." You get to vote on who's faking. (Standard text messaging rates apply.)

Covered or Not Covered Cam: Designed for anyone who's been screwed by an insurance company, meaning audiences get no wider. Watch as on-site adjusters remove the uncertainty from the process by tossing darts to determine whether that post-accident facial reconstruction is considered necessary or elective. (I'm thinking there's a "Deal or No Deal" angle here, but will leave that to the professionals.)

Triage Island Cam: If survival of the fittest should apply anywhere, it should be in the emergency room. If your choices are to compete with your fellow ER arrivals for the next available doctor or risk an excruciating eight-hour wait, well, my guess is that we're in for some mighty fine entertainment. (Truly life-threatening cases excepted, of course ... damn lawyers.)

You're Going to Die Cam: Oh, stop, we've come this far and already established that people will spill their brains all over YouTube for 15 minutes of fame. "You're Going to Die Cam" will capture those unimaginably tense conversations where the physician breaks the bad news. But, no longer will "How long do I have, doc?" be met with medical mumbo-jumbo and a pointless range measured in years. Instead, doctors will be required to pick an actual date and time of death. ... Gripping, I know. But here's the twist that puts this one over the top: a predictive market where investors can buy and sell shares based on the doc's call. Who wouldn't want to bet a few bucks that tough old Uncle Thad will easily outlast the 4 months, 13 days, 10 hours and 47 minutes he's been given Dr. Doomsday?

Life in the Staff Bunk Room Cam: Doctors and nurses work long hours. They need "rest." Need I say more?

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