Screen network as guinea pig recruiter

May 26, 2008 by Dave Haynes

I am huge fan of anyone coming into this space who decides to go at it a little differently – and the newly announced Digi-AdServices Network certainly qualifies.

This is the well-mined approach of putting screens in waiting rooms because of the defined audience and long dwell times.

But the big difference is that the screens are there primarily as a way to recruit paid volunteers for clinical drug trials by well-heeled pharmaceutical companies.

The patient waiting room is the perfect captive audience, says a press release on the new network, announced Monday. Typically a patient waits for about 10-15 minutes before being called to the exam room. During that time they can view health related information on a large screen high definition monitor. Information on healthy lifestyles, new medications as well as current and future medical research can be displayed in a way never before possible. By using full color motion or still slides, the amount of information distributed is much much more than could ever be realized in traditional media. Intermixed with this information is a “call to action” by the sponsoring pharmaceutical company to have the viewer inquire at the investigative site about participating in a medical research study.

Dr. Bret A. Wittmer, a well known leader in the world of medical research and the founder of the Digi-AdServices Network says “Digital displays deliver quality, useful information that could improve everyday lives. The network also provides a vehicle for physicians and research centers to communicate the importance of volunteering for clinical research trials to those waiting to be seen by the doctor “.

By educating the public about the clinical research process in a way that is engaging and informative, a desire to participate is created. Digital signage is playing a huge part in how medical research and health information is being distributed. Research centers that are co-located with private practices are discovering that patients who have visited their physician for years were unaware that medical research was being conducted at the same location and that they could help in the advancements of new and improved medications.

In addition to general health information and patient recruitment there is an increase in interest by locally owned and national chain pharmacies to advertise on these monitors. By taking advantage of a captive audience in a doctor’s waiting room, the pharmacy is able to directly advertise to consumers who will more than likely “opt-in” to purchase their services or products.

I have heard incessant radio spots and seen ads in newspaper, so I know there is money out there for this sort of thing. And it must take some work to find people to close their eyes, cross their fingers and hope the pills they’re getting to swallow don’t give them unibrows or scales.

The press release header actually notes: Commonwealth Biomedical Research, LLC., a respected leader in the clinical trial research industry, announces the launch of a new division devoted to clinical trial subject recruitment content and information distribution via its digital signage network.

The company pays as much as $4,800 for people to be in the trials, which involves some sleepovers and undoubtedly lots of poking and prodding. Commonwealth appears to be tightly focused on deploying in just the surrounding area, presumably within reach of their labs.

So … interesting approach, and certainly one tapping into marketing dollars few people in this space gave a second thought about.

It’s also a pretty testy subject area, with one point of view that they are necessary to advance drug research and another that they are fraught with risks and prey on the disadvantaged. That’s a big subject, and not for this blog.

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