Rocking the world of traditional healthcare marketers

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The doctor will see you now. From the convenience of your cellphone.

Doctor on Demand is a new app that lets you arrange video-based doctor visits on the fly. The iOS and Android app – designed for short-term medical problems like the flu or a migraine – connects patients within minutes to a doctor for a 15-minutes-or-less visit. Doctors (currently about 1,000) can also prescribe medicine, though not narcotics or other potentially addictive drugs.

DOD is a win-win for both physicians and patients. Physicians can make about $120 an hour for four visits (DOD takes a $10-per-visit cut). For patients, Doctor on Demand fills the gap between what’s much desired and sorely lacking in our current healthcare system: immediate gratification.

To put the opportunity into context (or put another way, to dimension the potential revenue risk) for traditional healthcare providers, consider these CDC FastStats from 2010:

• Number of physician office visits: 1.0 billion
• Number of physician office visits per 100 persons: 332.2
• Percent of visits made to primary care physicians: 55.5%
• Most frequent principal illness-related reason for visit: cough

The implication for healthcare providers is that for more routine patient needs, they are no longer the center of their patient’s (rather their customer’s) universe. Routine care is increasingly everywhere – urgent care centers, drug stores, super stores, cell phones.

The only defense, ultimately, is a brand that is different, better, special and constantly evolving. Hammering away each day to create the emotional attachment to your organization that drives the majority of purchase decisions. The challenge for healthcare marketers is finding (and operationally delivering on) that emotional link that makes your brand your customer’s first, and only, choice.