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Straight to the Consumer

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If you've been in the Boston area in the past year, you might have heard Dr. Giles Boland's voice on the radio. As the spokesman for Massachusetts General Hospital imaging services, he's tasked with helping raise awareness and strengthen brand identity for the MGH imaging department.

Direct-to-consumer advertising can be effective for imaging service lines, particularly when centered on promoting new technology or equipment. Nothing says "we're the best in the market" like being the first on the block to install a high-tech piece of new technology—and making sure patients and physicians know about it.

MGH has reached out to consumers directly through Boland's radio spots as well as advertisements on top of taxi cabs and bus stop placards. However, marketing to patients is only one part of MGH's overall marketing strategy for imaging. The five-person group that focuses on marketing radiology services at MGH spends at least half its efforts on reaching physicians, says James H. Thrall, MD, chief radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. "Our goal is to make sure that they know what's available from us and how best to access it."

Some of the most effective strategies are as basic as relationship building. The radiology marketing department meets with every new physician who comes to MGH to establish a relationship with the physician as well as his or her office staff. "That program has been extremely well-received," Thrall says. "It turns out we're usually the first people that show up and say, 'Hi, we're so delighted you're now on the staff.'"

—Elyas Bakhtiari

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