"Although we can't attribute this growth exclusively to the mall display, our growth and expansion reflects the commitment of the system's administration to support the program and showcase what we provide," says Malech. "I would say that the growth is multifactorial. It includes increased public awareness, marketing, additional physicians being trained, and trained physicians increasing their usage of the robot."
The number of surgeons being trained on the da Vinci system has more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, according to LaSalle. Fourteen of those surgeons (gynecological, urological, and general surgeons) were on hand to rotate through the robotic exhibit as hosts in 2012. Their names and exhibit times were advertised on the print ads and posters about the display, in case patients were interested in speaking with a particular surgeon.
The synergy between the marketing department and the physicians is what's been really incredible about the robotic display, Malech says. More physicians volunteered in 2012 to work the two-day exhibit, donating an hour or two, but usually staying longer, says LaSalle.
In 2012, the marketing department upped its goal to 500 as the number of visitors who would test each robot. "A big part of this display was demystifying robotic surgery," says Malech. "Many observers had either already been operated on by the robot, they were about to have surgery, but most just wanted to understand how it worked."
In 2012, the robotic surgery display expanded to include other interactive exhibits showcasing different physicians and the services and procedures the hospital offered that were aligned with more consumer-based decisions, says Malech.
The promotion benefitted the mall and the hospital, but it's clear the robots were the star. The mall has already requested that Saint Barnabas bring them back for the 2013 holiday season.
Chelsea Rice is Associate Editor of HealthLeaders Media. This article was originally published in Healthcare Marketing Advisor.