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Physicians Take Live Calls and Online Messages During TV Segment

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, September 29, 2010

When OSF Healthcare System in Peoria, IL, partnered with a local TV station to create live, weekly health segments, marketers knew it would foster community engagement. The segments focused on different OSF service lines and featured two physicians who took live viewer calls. But soon marketers began to wonder how they could encourage more participation.

So the health system teamed with Kansas City, MO, agency hippo to make the TV segments even more effective. The two teams decided that adding an online live chat feature to the show would allow viewers with privacy concerns reach out to OSF physicians during the program.

To do this, OSF began sending four physicians to each health segment; two to take phone callers' questions and two to answer questions coming in online. Marketers promoted the live chat option by posting information on Facebook and Twitter, as well as banner ads on its website.

"Once or twice during the segment they would shoot over to the doctors answering questions online and ask what kinds of questions they were getting and they rattle off one or two," says Chad Milam, interactive director for hippo. "They incorporate the live-chat doctors as well as the live-call doctors."

OSF and hippo chose an online chat vendor that allows the administrator to converse with up to three people at a time. Milam said he trained the OSF web director on the software.

"He then turned around and found two cardiac doctors who would be good and who were somewhat fast typers and did a training session with them," Milam says. "It wasn't too time intensive on their side and cost-wise it wasn't too bad either."

Though the online chat physicians don't receive a very high volume of chats, OSF believes the feature is valuable.

"The marketing director told me, 'The chats that we did were surprisingly high in quality,'" Milam says. "The quantity might not have been there, but the quality was there. There was one individual whose chat lasted 45 minutes."

That patient hadn't seen a doctor in many years, Milam says. After his lengthy chat with the OSF physician, he decided to make a follow-up appointment. OSF has participated in seven segments since February.

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