Hospital videos give patients a feel for the people behind the lab coats

Unlike New York-Presbyterian, most hospitals can't afford to pay for pricey Super Bowl ads, so they turn to the Web

Graphic designer and artist Noma Bar received rave reviews for his 60-second Super Bowl ad for New York-Presbyterian Health System. Explaining immunotherapy to a nation of football watchers is far from easy.

The ad, called "Unmasking a Killer," engagingly explains the science behind immunotherapy by forsaking "talking lab coats" and difficult technical jargon in favor of "metaphor and storytelling, brought to life in striking animations," according to Dutch Uncle, the U.K. talent agency for the artist.

This is the second straight year that New York-Presbyterian ran a Super Bowl commercial, which can cost $5 million for a 30-second national ad.

Of course, most hospitals and doctors don't have New York-Presbyterian's millions to spend on television advertising, let alone the Super Bowl. For them, there's online video.

Providers increasingly have joined other industries in promoting their services on YouTube or videos embedded on their websites. Digital is predicted to overtake television as the biggest media category in the country this year, with $66 billion in revenue, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Producers such as Video SEO Pro are poised to benefit. On a much smaller scale than Presby's Super Bowl ad, videos made by the Hawthorne, N.Y., company are a marketing tool that also can drive patient volume. One client is Weill Cornell—not the institution itself, but a group of oncologists who used some discretionary marketing money to create a video without involvement of an advertising or public-relations firm.

"Memorial Sloan Kettering spends a lot on marketing. They are everywhere. But no one realizes that Weill Cornell is No. 2 in cancer care," said David Vogel, president of Video SEO Pro.

Doctors from Weill Cornell's lymphoma program, he added, "came to us and said, 'We do great work, and no one knows we're here.' ''

In August 2014, Video SEO Pro was approached by Dr. John Leonard, chief of the Lymphoma Program at Weill Cornell Medical College. The company produced four videos for the lymphoma team: a three-minute branding spot about the lymphoma program and three patient testimonials, each focusing on a different kind of lymphoma. The videos, as well as the Super Bowl ad, can be seen here.

"Every hospital has a story to tell," said Vogel. "On a doctor level, a patient level, hospital level. Every story is different. These aren't scripted."

When patients choose doctors, they expect them to have strong credentials. But a bio and head shot "don't give the full story," added Vogel. "A video conveys a doctor's personal side. Why did he become a doctor? It helps a patient choose a doctor."

Leonard said the videos are helpful in giving patients "a sense of who we are as clinicians and researchers, and a sense of the excellent patient care they will receive. We tried very hard to tell patients what we're like as individual physicians."

There were no specific targeted metrics for the videos, which cost in the "five-figure range," he said.

More than a year after the videos were embedded on Weill Cornell's site, they appear on the much-desired first page of Google results for a search for "lymphoma treatment New York"—right after results for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

"Hospitals use online video to give patients a feel for the people behind the lab coats" originally appeared on the website of Crain's New York Business.



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