West Hartford, CT: With webcasts of live surgical procedures becoming a lucrative PR vehicle for hospitals and medical device makers, one company, Slp3D, is looking to grab the lion's share of the market.
Hospitals are using the webcasts partly as an educational tool and partly to market themselves, said Ross Joel, EVP of sales and marketing at Slp3D.
From a PR standpoint, "It's a great educational tool for patients to find out the latest and greatest treatment," Joel said. "It's a great way for doctors to communicate with their colleagues."
Slp3D, a production company that claims to own 90% of the surgery webcast market, has relaunched its website, www.OR-live.com, upped its media relations efforts, and teamed with professional medical associations to increase its profile.
In addition to production, Slp3D works with the PR agencies of pharmaceutical and medical device companies to find websites that want to broadcast the videos.
"They've all faced the problem in keeping their products in front of consumers and physicians," Joel said.
At Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey, 30 patients signed up to have a gastric bypass procedure after viewing it first over the internet.
"That's an outstanding outcome," said Randy Lerner, director of relationship marketing for Atlantic Health System, the parent company of Morristown Memorial.
Lerner added that although most of the procedure's 15,000 viewers were consumers, "It's really an excellent way of promoting our physicians to other physicians."
Atlantic Health System is currently under contract to air eight webcasts, including a heart bypass similar to the one former President Bill Clinton had, which aired October 29.
Lerner noted that the videos cost roughly the price of a full-page advertisement, "but the payout is much greater."
"More and more, healthcare is becoming consumer-driven. It's not just where your doctors tell you to go," Lerner said. "The beauty is they are able to speak to a surgeon as it is going on."
The goal is for the videos to ultimately increase referrals to the hospital, he added.
Joel noted that, unlike advertising, the videos also attract significant media coverage.
"It's a great media driver," he noted.