Sunday, July 17, 2016

Can QR codes finally find a place in healthcare marketing?

Let’s go back in time shall, we? Remember in 2010 when QR codes were all the rage? QR codes promised a vast mobile-tagging world where the consumer could reach out and just scan the QR code to access information or buy stuff. 

It was back then that I authored a post in Healthcare Marketing Matters explaining what QR codes were and how they could benefit healthcare marketing. It was really about the engagement and experience of the healthcare consumer or patient. The post was published on December 13, 2010, entitled, Using QR Codes in Healthcare Marketing and it’s a live link for your convenience should one care to revisit.

That sure was a long time ago.

Well, like all things in our “what have you done lately for me” society, the excitement soon fell by the wayside at the lack of consumer adoption. Occasionally one will see a QR code here and there (see Snapchat), but it never really caught on with the general consumer for a variety of reasons. But maybe it was because one had to download a QR code app scanner and people were too busy downloading and playing Subway Surfer or some other game of the moment.

For Apple and Samsung, it would be great if I could just turn my camera on and scan the QR code without an app.  No charge either for the useful product update suggestion.

But maybe that is about to change?

What’s funny about all of this is the adage that nothing is new in healthcare marketing, it's either been discussed and tried to varying degrees of success or failure in the past, or somebody is already doing it today. Staying abreast of changes in the market, even if it’s another vertical and putting the old’ thinking cap on, can keep the healthcare marketer ahead of the game.

And isn’t that what healthcare marketing is supposed to be all about, identifying a need and providing a solution? Especially in consumer/patient engagement and experience, which we all know providers excel at all the time.

Food manufacturers, GMOs and what they have to do with all of this.

In an article by Greg Trotter, Chicago Tribune published on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, QR CODES? Consumers may need to scan packages for GMO information, summarizes the attempts by the food companies to use QR codes in place of on-packaging labeling in a bill before the U.S. House. The passage of this bill could very well alter the consumer perceptions and use of QR codes opening a new world of engagement and experience possibilities for providers. Here comes the customer using QR Codes because they do like to eat, but not necessarily eat GMOs.

What are QR Codes?

As a memory refresh, QR codes were developed by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994 for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing.   QR Code means Quick Response Code because it is intended for its content to be decoded at high speed. The QR Code is a two-dimensional code consisting of black modules arranged in a square on white background. It is readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera and smartphones. QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Incorporated.

A convenience application aimed at mobile phone users. And they fit very well into Inbound Marketing too. 

I think QR Codes have great application potential for use in the healthcare industry.

Tag you’re it!

Mobile-tagging provides the ability to communicate information to a user, be it the URL to your website or microsite, phone number of an account representative, display text or used to compose an email or text message. The QR Code can be placed nearly anywhere and in just about any medium you can think.

Immediate Response for Return on Marketing Investment

Now instead of asking someone to dial a number, go to a website, your QR Code in whatever medium you are using can be scanned immediately with the user’s phone. It could even connect the user’s phone to a wireless network and place the call to you.  It could be to a website, specific page health information, the patient portal. Find-a-Doc or anything else one is marketing.

Use your imagination!

Six years ago the thought of using QR codes for in healthcare marketing for engaging the healthcare consumer or patient and managing the experience may have been a wee bit ahead of its time. 

It could be the use of QR codes time has finally come in healthcare marketing.

Maybe I should be a futurist too.

Don’t think so, see, “How to Use Patient Satisfaction Data to Improve Healthcare Quality”, by Ralph Bell Ph.D. and Michael J Krivich, January 2000, ASQ Press. A book back-in-the-day that explored the uses of patient satisfaction data to improve quality, a full ten years before the healthcare industry figured out it can be a game changer in care. And if you go back into the archives of Healthcare Marketing Matters, I have written on strategic marketing topics and strategies that are three to four years ahead of where providers are today.

Michael is an independent healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters has over 20,000 page views a month.  He is also a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

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