Public radio listeners across the country recently heard the following commercial: “Destroying cancers based on each tumor's genetic fingerprint. The promise of discovery. More information at VanderbiltHealth.com.”
“I heard the advertisements on drive-time radio,” said Dr. Mark Boguski, chief medical officer of Boston-based Precision Medicine Network, a for-profit outgrowth of Harvard Medical School's genomic medicine initiative.
Why was Vanderbilt in Tennessee beaming its message to National Public Radio listeners in Boston and other markets across the country? Jill Austin, Vanderbilt's chief marketing officer, said it was to educate the public about what personalized medicine has to offer and to raise the academic medical center's profile, which could help recruit faculty and staff. This is about “leading-edge kind of work,” she said. “Your message is on every station where NPR plays.”
Other health systems also have taken to the airwaves, print and the Internet to market their prowess in precision medicine. Boca Raton, Fla.-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America recently ran ads in O, the Oprah magazine and on CBS' “The Good Wife.”
The personalized medicine marketing wars are on. From national chains to regional powers, hospital systems are spending millions of dollars to claim leadership in this new field, which got a huge boost in January when President Barack Obama used the State of the Union Address to tout the promise of what he called precision medicine.