Waiting rooms as educational tools


Digital health programming aired through a doctor’s office waiting room is becoming more prevalent, with more providers expanding their networks. It’s an opportunity for retail pharmacies to reach that captive audience satirized by comedian Jerry Seinfield: “There’s no chance of not waiting [in the waiting room.] That’s the name of the room,” he said as part of a rant on doctors. “They finally call you and it’s exciting … but you’re just going to the little waiting room.”

One company making a major push in this space is AccentHealth, a point-of-care media company featuring health education television content, which recently expanded its feature programming produced by CNN’s Medical Unit. One point of difference for AccentHealth: It is able to supplement its programming with local advertising. One obvious target for those ads is local pharmacies near the physician offices that are part of AccentHealth’s network.

“Because we’re a digital network, we can actually geo-locate our offices to our pharmacy partner’s stores and offer just these doctors’ offices, for example, that are within a 5-mile radius of that store,” noted Edith Hodkinson, president of AccentHealth’s media division. The messages can be tailored to identify the nearest pharmacies and include a short code patients can use to download directions. 

AccentHealth collectively reaches more than 173 million viewers annually across more than 12,300 physician waiting rooms nationwide, including 9,800 general practitioner offices. The balance of the networks is split between OB-GYN waiting rooms (1,000) and pediatric waiting rooms (1,500). 

In April, the network expanded its condition-specific networks to include arthritis pain, COPD, smoking cessation, gout, low testosterone, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and overactive bladder. The new networks are in addition to AccentHealth’s nine other condition-specific networks: allergy, mental health, asthma, diabetes, GERD, rheumatology, heart health, men’s health and senior women’s health.

On average, patients are in the doctor’s waiting room for some 27 minutes, Hodkinson noted. That’s almost one-third of the average time a person spends seeking medical care on a day that they need it. 

AccentHealth research found that 90% of patients visiting a doctor’s office go shopping after their visit, and 64% of these viewers will purchase a prescription medication.

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