Vicksburg (MS) Medical Center is using video games to introduce its services to shoppers at an area retail mall. Although they're a far cry from Nintendo, the two games help consumers assess their risk of heart attack or need for a checkup, then provide information on relevant programs at the 144-bed hospital.
"This system gets the hospital's name out front," says Wick Baker, administrator at Vicksburg. "It also allows people who want more information to either leave their telephone number or address.
The system relies on interactive video technology developed by Argosy Network Corp., Nashville, TN. To play, consumers simply touch the screen.
Consumers find the games an interesting break from traditional hospital advertising, Baker says. "Hospitals in our market use a lot of newspaper advertising. This is a real pleasant medium to get the message out to folks."
High response rate. The hospital placed the video system in the mall in early December. During the first month, more than 500 shoppers played the games and about 150 requested additional information from the hospital-a 30 percent response rate, says Baker.
"As the newness wears off, I'm sure we'll see a decrease in contact," Baker adds. "Then we'll evaluate moving this to another place."
Other hospitals that have installed the system in shopping malls reach as many as 1,200 users monthly and average a 13 percent response rate, says Kent Simpkins, president and CEO of Argosy. Hospitals that place the system in their lobby or in a medical office building typically generate a higher response rate but a lower overall user rate, he adds.
The video system, including games and a kiosk, costs $900 a month for a 12-month contract, Simpkins says. Argosy provides the hospitals' marketing departments with monthly reports on "leads" generated by the system-a player's name, age, address, phone number and all of the hospital services that a user is interested in.
Argosy also customizes the system for each hospital, Simpkins says. "Our program listing and the specialty listing is specific to Vicksburg Medical Center," Baker adds.
Argosy updates the system at no additional cost, Simpkins says. "We can change these over the telephone lines. If a hospital wants to focus on its weight-loss program, we can dial the system over the phone lines and deliver the program into it."
Although the system targets adult shoppers, Baker says, "You do get some kids playing with it. That's OK. If their health awareness is jogged just a little bit, we've accomplished something." - Julie