Virtual colonoscopy billboards make a big deal out of screening

2003 07 24 16 04 36 706

You might think of virtual colonoscopy as a small part of colon cancer screening, but in parts of northern Florida it's much, much bigger than that. In fact, VC has become billboard-sized in three bedroom communities surrounding Tampa, where Community Hospital in New Port Richey has launched an outsized campaign to advertise virtual colonoscopy to commuters.

"We've gotten about 15 calls so far and scheduled three procedures," said imaging services director Sandra Seibert.

At $598 a pop, they're hoping for a lot more. In addition to the screening procedure, diagnostic virtual colonoscopy is offered by referral.

2003 07 24 16 07 57 706
One of three billboards advertising a new virtual colonoscopy screening program at Community Hospital, New Port Richey, FL.

The group uses a four-slice LightSpeed scanner (GE Medical Systems, Waukesha, WI) equipped with Voxar Colonscreen software (Voxar, Edinburgh, Scotland) for the 20-minute exam. Patients are prepped with Phospho-soda kits (C.B. Fleet Company, Lynchburg, VA) and are given manual room-air insufflation prior to imaging.

Members of the group studied the procedure at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where they learned that invasive exams can be quite unpopular with patients. The goal of the marketing campaign is to appeal to the 80% of the eligible population who choose not to have conventional colonoscopy, according to Seibert.

Given the large number of retirees in Florida, offering virtual colonoscopy services in a big way seemed like a good idea. The campaign also includes newspaper ads.

"We don't just want the retirees, we want to get the 50-year-olds driving by, too," Seibert said.

They may get their chance, since the ads are almost too big to ignore. And considering the project's massive dimensions, the group put a lot of thought into the design before deciding to keep it simple.

"We had a lot of fun visualizing what the billboard might look like," Seibert said.

By Eric Barnes staff writer
July 25, 2003

Copyright © 2003

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