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Oct30
Targeting A Captive Audience: Marketing To Patients In The Waiting Room
UPDATE:  See this post for Phreesia's response to the controversey surrounding its service. 

An interesting article published late last week on the Hastings Center blog Bioethics Forum focuses on how pharmaceutical companies are marketing to patients in the waiting room.

The author of the article, Adriane Fugh-Berman, cites a number of firms that specialize in helping pharma companies reach this captive audience.  One major company in this space is Healthy Advice Networks, which has "installed at least 95,000 [television] screens in waiting rooms across the country."   On its Website the company promises that pharmaceutical company sponsors of its programming will see new drug prescriiptions increase by an average of 8 - 12 percent. 

For pharmaceutical companies, marketing  to patients in the waiting room makes a lot of sense.  They are guaranteed that they will have access to an interested and engaged audience. In addition, physicians may welcome the opportunity to provide their patients with important educational information about heart disease and other chronic and acute conditions.

In her article Berman says that marketing in the waiting room represents an "assault" on patients.  She also implies that it:

- May increase the odds that patients will request medications from doctors they don't need

- Helps pharmaceutical companies collect market research data from patients who are unaware they are providing (non-personalized) information to drug firms

From a personal perspective, having a pharmaceutical company market their products to me in the waiting room does not bother me that much.  I see lots of drug-related information when I visit the doctor anyway -- pens, posters, samples, brochures and magazine advertisements.  Viewing a commercial on a television screen -- especially if the sound is turned off -- is not a big deal.

Berman also says that drug firms are collecting market research data from patients via WebPads, which they use to provide physicians with information about why they are visiting the doctor's office.  I have never used a WebPad. However, I would be disturbed if I found out that I was providing data to a pharmaceutical company without my knowledge.  I assume that my medical information is used by the hospital, physician and managed care company -- not a drug firm.  If data from me was provided to a pharmaceutical company I'd want to know about it and have the right to opt out of the market research.

For me, waiting room marketing is fine, provided that I:

- Received balanced, accurate educational materials

- Get clear, in-depth information about the risk and benefits of advertised products

- Understand when and how I am participating in market research so that I know who is getting it, what it will be used for and how to opt out


Oct25
Trust, Transparency & Knowledge: A Conversation With OrganizedWisdom's Unity Stoakes
Over the past few weeks, I have been talking extensively about the benefits and drawbacks of health-focused user-generated content.  In a couple of posts, I focused on OrganizedWisdom.com, an innovative new social networking Website that encourages people to develop and... Continue Reading
Oct23
Online Depression Searches Spike; Website Highlights Online Pharma Ads
As reported previously, on this blog, the pace of pharmaceutical advertising has increased this year, partly because of robust marketing efforts for sleep medications like Ambien and Lunesta.  However, according to an article published today by eMarketer, while ads for... Continue Reading
Oct19
Pharmaceutical Marketing: Media, Critics Honing In On Pharma-Advocacy Organization Alliances
Over the past decade or so, pharmaceutical companies have worked with advocacy organizations and medical societies on a range of projects designed to raise awareness of illness and educate physicians on issues relating to products they manufacture.  These “cause alliances”... Continue Reading
Oct16
Sermo, Inc Physician Social Network Illustrates Best & Worst Of "The Wisdom Of Crowds"
UPDATE: See this post for Sermo's response to this article.  Earlier this year Sermo, Inc introduced an innovative Website, sermo.com, that taps into the collective wisdom of physicians to identify trends in medicine before they become widely known.  The company... Continue Reading
Oct12
The Rise Of Crowdsourcing & Healthcare
One of the hallmarks of the so-called Web 2.0 revolution has been the explosion of social networking Websites like Wikipedia and YouTube.  These online forums enable people to share and create content on a range of subjects, including entertainment and... Continue Reading
Oct11
Pharmaceutical Marketing: DTC Ad Spending Up
In the wake of the Vioxx scandal and the industry's adoption of new guidelines governing direct-to-consumer advertising, some thought that spending on direct to consumer (DTC) advertising would decrease.  However, new data indicates that drug firms have not started advertising... Continue Reading
Oct10
Patient Advocacy Organizations: When Does It Pay To Play Together?
Today’s Wall Street Journal features an interesting article (subscription required) about how the numbers of patient advocacy organizations has exploded in recent years.  While this may be good news for patients, the glut of healthcare non-profits is making it more... Continue Reading
Oct 8
Social Media News Nuggets
I've recently come across a few news nuggets about social media that I found interesting.  While they don't focus on healthcare, they have implications for people looking at how social media can be used in this area and the pros... Continue Reading
Oct 4
ChangeThis: An Innovative Way To Share Ideas; Your Support Needed
A few weeks ago, I announced that I published an e-book, “From Command & Control To Engage & Encourage” designed to help players in the healthcare industry get a handle on social media.  I’ve been very happy with the response... Continue Reading
Oct 3
Bad News For Newspapers = Bad News For All Of Us – Especially In Healthcare
Today, Erick Sass of Media Daily News reported on more bad news for the newspaper industry.  In his article he takes a look at the findings of two reports from Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank.  Sass says: “Print advertising is... Continue Reading

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