SourceMedia turns to virtual reality for latest offering
Oct. 16, 2012 -- Last week, SourceMedia’s Health Data Management brand premiered the Healthcare Innovation Center, a virtual experience showcasing the latest products and stories on new healthcare technologies. The Center, simulating virtual games like The Sims, is initially presented as a floor plan of a typical hospital. Visitors can click on any of the eight hospital units (Patient Room, ICU Unit, Emergency Department, Radiology, Surgery, Administration, Medical Records and Data Room) and find fully equipped rooms with cutting-edge products. Users can then click on products to get an overview, read articles, watch videos and more. The resource aims to give Health Data Management’s readers -- senior-level administrators, clinicians and IT staff -- an engrossing yet non-intrusive look into the hospitals of tomorrow.
“As publishers, we have an obligation to our readers to always come up with engaging ways to present content,” says Rob Whitaker, a SourceMedia senior vice president and group publisher. “We wanted an immersive environment that would let our readers ‘experience’ content. Unfortunately, that platform didn’t exist, so we started building it by bringing together the folks who had experience in different areas.”
To create the environment, SourceMedia teamed up with Decision Counsel, a design firm who has developed virtual home experiences for Hanley Wood. To make sure the virtual hospital was consistent with reality, the company partnered with Earl Swenson Associates, an architecture firm that specializes in healthcare facilities. As the groups collaborated, they were inspired by characteristics of three trends: the platform slickness of virtual events, the reality level of virtual home environments and the engagement factor in gamification. Once developed, the Web-based Center was optimized for tablets and mobile.
Greg Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Health Data Management, says the Center is a perfect match for the complex healthcare market today. “The healthcare industry is at a dizzying pace,” says Gillespie. “There is a lot of money being put into the healthcare market, and a lot of that is going into technology. It’s so confusing – there are a lot of pieces involved. You can even look at our virtual hospital – there are all these different rooms. What we’re trying to do is break out the technology stories in every area and roll that up to see how they tie together.”
Gillespie is in charge of managing the content in each unit, which he says is updated daily. Most of the content, which includes staff-written stories, guest blogs, case studies, videos and slide shows, can only be found in the Center. Twice a week, HDM sends out a newsletter that includes the Center’s content to drive traffic to the environment.
Products found in the Center are based on sponsors (current sponsors include GE Healthcare, Ambir Technology, NetApp and Proofpoint). At any given time, there may be one to 28 Center sponsors, broken down into three tiers, which determines how much products and other content sponsors can contribute, as well as how much data sponsors receive in return. The Center is free, notes Tony Carrini, publisher of HDM, but it is sponsor-based. All HDM requires is that users register before exploring the environment.
Sponsors contribute content, but more importantly they receive analytics for lead generation. Data, based on sponsorship level, includes who enters the environment, what they view and how long they spend viewing it. HDM also uses the data to determine if they should expand topic coverage or produce more of one type of content.
“When you launch something you think of it one way,” says Carrini. “Look at the way TV shows go: You think one character will be the best character and as time goes on you think, ‘Whoa! That character is actually the best character. Let’s write more parts for him.’ Same thing with the environment; we’re going to see how the community reacts to it.”
HDM wants the Center to become a campus for those in healthcare. Already featured is a community forum and social-sharing capabilities for content. The brand is looking to expand with new rooms and social events (Twitter chats, expert Q&A sessions, etc.).
SourceMedia intends to develop virtual environments for its other groups. Whitaker describes an accounting environment, featuring Main Street that provides consulting on small to midsized business, Town Hall that provides ongoing government and regulatory updates, Luxury Estates that provides content on wealth management and retirement planning and Silicon Alley, providing information on the latest technologies to run practices more efficiently.
“We are also exploring environments that take our readers into more conceptual-type experiences like product development lifecycles,” says Whitaker. “This platform also lets us create custom environments for our marketing clients. We see this experience becoming a very powerful new complement for the traditional microsite.”
A video explaining the Healthcare Innovation Center can be viewed below.
By Elizabeth A. Reid