This article, written by HealthLeaders Media Associate Editor Chelsea Rice was originally published in Healthcare Marketing Advisor.
By 1 p.m. on December 15 and 16, 2012, the 6,100 spaces in the parking lot at The Mall at Short Hills in Short Hills, N.J., were filled to capacity. Approximately 1.3 million people visit the mall monthly, coming from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania to shop for tax-free apparel 23 miles from Manhattan. Thousands of shoppers paused their holiday shopping for an exhibit just outside Macy's, and it wasn't for pictures with Santa.
Men, women, and children—ranging from as young as 4 years old to folks in their 80s and 90s—lined up to operate two da Vinci robots, put on display for the second consecutive year through a collaboration among Intuitive Surgical, which designs and builds the da Vinci robot surgical systems, the mall administration, and the nearby 597-bed Saint Barnabas Medical Center.
Physician-based community presentations and "Ask the Doctor" booths, which Saint Barnabas has offered in the past at the mall, provided a more personal connection with potential patients, but by letting patients interact with the robots and the surgeons, the hospital hoped to demystify a technology most patients don't ever see and in turn show them what is possible at Saint Barnabas.
By building an exhibit space at The Mall at Short Hills, Saint Barnabas created a setting for those connections at one of the largest malls in the country during the peak of the holiday shopping season.
One of the oldest nonprofit hospitals in New Jersey, Saint Barnabas is also the flagship hospital of Barnabas Health, one of the largest integrated health systems in the state. Its campus, which admits 33,114 patients annually, is located five miles from the mall.