Video to the Waiting Room: Just What the Doctor Ordered


Have you ever wished you could make better use of the average 30 minutes plus in the waiting room before your scheduled appointment with the doctor?

You may not have to break out the smartphone to help fill the time thanks to an innovative application of video whereby customizable and objective health education programming is piped to a big, flat-panel TV in your doctor’s office.

This use of video in the healthcare industry is fascinating because it targets patient education on a number of topics and conditions at the point of care. It can also comprise include doctor profiles and be more engaging with a news ticker and latest weather forecast bar.

The best part for doctors (and their patients) is that impressive ContextMedia Health provides a near turnkey, HIPAA-compliant, package to doctors for free. There’s no charge or commitment for the 42-inch Phillips flat-panel TV, the PC connected to the back of the TV, or the programming. Context handles equipment installation and maintenance. It pledged to repair or replace systems in seven business days.

All healthcare providers need is an Internet connection and to fill out monthly feedback forms.

The Trend – DooH.

ContextMedia is but the latest forward looking (and acting) company harnessing video to connect with consumers in situations where they are something of a captive audience. Other innovators have used gas pump-top mini TV screens to inform customers and drive sales. Retailers use in-store video systems to drive shoppers to special deals and promotions. And convenience stores use mini-screens over coffee machines and food stations to get your attention and pitch away, all including news, weather and sometimes ads.

These systems are often referred to as Digital Out –of-Home (DOOH) video networks and represent a fast-growing trend in the use of video programming among business-to-consumer communications/education and marketing.

Context Media

ContextMedia claims to have its video systems deployed in over 20,000 physicans offices and provides targeted health care programing from the likes of the American Heart Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Lupus Initiative.

Founded in 2006, Context says it is trusted by the University of Chicago, John Hopkins Medicine, The Joslin Diabetes Group and Tenet Health.

ContextMedia Health delivers actionable health information at the point-of-care. Its healthcare professional partners help it deliver educational video programming o people living with a chronic condition to help inform them on ways to manage their condition through lifestyle changes.

This challenge is address using several technology means. The organization uses smart TV systems in the waiting room, interactive tablets in the exam room, and applications built on EMRs. Primary care physicians with relatively small offices are more likely to use the smart TV based video delivery system than the tablets and apps the company provides.

The company’s parent, Chicago-based ContextMedia Inc., says it owns and operates “a suite of digital healthcare networks,” and reaches an audience of millions.

How it Works – Getting Started

Interested healthcare providers can sign up for the complimentary TV and tablet systems by calling one of ContextMedia Health’s Member Outreach Executives or filling out a simple online form. There are no contracts or obligations and you can cancel your membership at any time, according to Context.

After signing up for a membership Context provides a TV system for the doctor’s office member’s waiting room that delivers “fresh and engaging health videos” to your patients based on preferences the office gives the company at the time of sign-up. ContextMedia also offers tablets to be included with your TV system in order to provide programming to exam rooms.

ContextMedia explains that members can add their own “practice messages on both systems to share information with your patients to help them learn about their condition and to save the doctors’ time.”

The company explains its mission as partnering with healthcare providers “to educate your patients with reliable information coming directly from you, which inspires them to take charge and make healthier lifestyle choices.”

What’s on TV – Programming is King

ContextMedia says it ensures that all content is reviewed by the independent medical advisory boards of each content partner before it is distributed on the company’s networks.

The practice-specific programming can include customized videos to engage your patient audience. Segments include personal stories and lifestyle pieces, nutrition, diet and exercise tips as well as in-depth features on specific conditions and related co-morbidities.

Where’s the Money?

Like DOOH systems in other vertical markets, the efforts are at least partially funded by some form of advertising and/or sponsorships.

With ContextMedia Health, viewers won’t be bothered with numerous sales pitches from big pharma as have readers of WebMD’s magazine and TV viewers in general.

The company is funded through educational sponsorships and a limited number of messages from sponsors and PSAs from healthcare organizations will be played in between programming segments. However, Context maintains a healthcare provider need only call the company at any time to have a specific sponsor message taken off the content loop.

The good news for those with spots between programming segments: ContextMedia claims 78 percent of viewers recall show information.

Not White Noise

Having personally viewed programming on the Context system in the waiting room in advance of a doctor’s appointment, I assure you that the video segments are anything but white noise. The personal story portions are magnetic.

It’s not that hard to capture the attention of patients in a waiting room who at best read magazines to bide time. To keep their attention, however, is an important achievement that awakens them to bigger picture medical conditions beyond visits for sore throats, muscle strains and pulls, sprains and flu shots.

An informed patient is one equipped to chat about more than the weather. That can lead to far more productive doctor appointments.

The proof is in the programming.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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Founder, Fast Forward Thinking LLC

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