OK, Fine Dep’t: Startup Says It Will Go From Zero To 700 Medical DOOH Sites In 2013

March 22, 2013 by Dave Haynes

AdMerge Media

A startup called Admerge Media is the latest to have a crack at turning Canadian medical clinics into media environments.

“Place-based media is new to healthcare, and the benefits are becoming more obvious every day,” says Dr. Hany Demian, an emergency room physician and founder of Toronto-based Admerge. “Our mission is to help healthcare professionals and brands to strengthen their relationships with patients and provide value-added healthcare information where it matters most.”

Well, no, actually. Place-based media is anything but new to healthcare.

Digital OOH networks have been running in 100s of Canadian clinics and lab waiting rooms for the better part of a decade, via companies like the Professional Health Services Network, aka PHSN. There are several others that have been around in hospitals, dental offices, and on and on. Many of the credible ones fall under the umbrella of CHMN.

Admerge was announced in a joint press release with Canadian software provider ScreenScape.

Demian says in the release he sees an opportunity to capitalize on a growing trend in the healthcare industry towards paperless waiting rooms.

“Physicians know that magazines and brochures, once a mainstay of patient waiting areas, are an easy means for germs to spread,” says Demian. “At the same time, the delivery of effective healthcare services has become more knowledge-based, more infused with the sharing of good information. So, we need a new way to educate and entertain patients that is both safe and smart. Intelligent digital displays will become an indispensable feature of waiting rooms in healthcare facilities across Canada over the next few years. Admerge Media, in collaboration with our technology partner, ScreenScape, will lead the way, enabling more than 700 venues this year alone.

ScreenScape is a software platform that connects businesses and helps them engage audiences inside real world places using Internet-enabled digital displays. ScreenScape’s network-centric approach represents a shift in the way digital signage networks are built as well as in the way digital content, such as online video, is distributed to places of business. Using a ScreenScape Group, Admerge Media can form its own network consisting of healthcare venues or any other business that is a member of the ScreenScape Community.

ScreenScape – because of price point, ease of use and the shared content philosophy the company promotes – is likely a good fit for this. The challenge, of course, is shifting from SAYING you are going to roll out to 700 clinics and actually DOING that. The “enabling” reference in the press release may be at play here, at least a little, as ScreenScape has healthcare clients and Admerge could in theory become a service provider without actually installing anything.

The Canadian health care system is very different from the US, and so is the geography. You can’t do a deal to get 100 clinics at once. You mostly get them one by one. And many are already taken by competing networks, or have had such networks in the past and bailed on the concept. There’s also a lot of cost in covering a country as large as Canada, but with only 10% of the population of the U.S.

I haven’t even mentioned how freakin’ hard it has been for companies who have been selling medical Digital OOH for many years.  These concepts always look awesome in presentation decks and spreadsheets, but are really hard to actually get running and profitable. Though logic would tell you digital is far more compelling, there’s still way more, easier money in posters and pamphlets in waiting rooms.

The “coming soon” state of the media company’s website suggests the hill to climb is a steep one for Dr. Demian. Genuinely, I hope it goes well, but a Digital OOH start-up is not a prescription I’d write. We’ll see where it goes.

Leave a comment