Mend offers a new advertising solution targeting captive audiences via telehealth. Media buying agency Bigeye discusses it with Jessica Neyer, VP, Strategy.
IN CLEAR FOCUS this week: Telemedicine has seen greater adoption since the onset of COVID-19. This week’s guest is Jessica Neyer, VP of Strategy at Mend, a patient engagement platform. Jessica shares Mend’s newest offering, the enhanced waiting room, in which content is available for patients to view as they wait for their provider. Jessica explains how brands can utilize the Netflix-like library of content and advertising on this platform to directly target captive audiences.
Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS:
Jessica Neyer: I don’t know of any other telemedicine company that is doing what we’re doing, but essentially we just launched what’s called the enhanced virtual waiting room that’s both content and advertising in the virtual waiting room.
Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye. An audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. In the last couple of episodes, we’ve looked at the ways in which COVID-19 has accelerated changes in the way film and TV content is produced, and the uptake in shelter animal adoption as people sought companionship from pets during the stay in place orders. This week, we’re focusing on another industry that has seen significant growth during the pandemic. Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, is the use of electronic information and communication technologies to provide care when a patient and a doctor are not in the same place at the same time. Provided the patients have a smartphone or other device with internet access, it’s possible for them to receive medical care and services through telemedicine. Since social distancing has been required for almost a year now, telemedicine has enabled people to talk to their doctor from the safety and comfort of their own homes without having to visit the doctor’s office. Because telemedicine limits physical contact, it reduces potential exposure to COVID-19, but using telemedicine can also shorten the wait times to see a doctor and expand access to specialists. Our guest this week has deep experience in the medical industry and is an expert on telemedicine. Jessica Neyer is the Vice President of Strategy at Mend, a leader in telemedicine and patient engagement, headquartered in Orlando. Prior to her current role, Jessica worked as the Head of Strategy for PatientPop, a Los Angeles-based medical practice software firm, as well as in senior leadership roles with Pager, Heal, and FitOrbit – in addition to positions with Ortho Molecular Products and AstraZeneca. Jessica graduated from the University of California Davis with a bachelor of science degree. Today, Jessica is joining us from her home office in Los Angeles. Jessica, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!
Jessica Neyer: Thanks for having me.
Adrian Tennant: Jessica, first of all, could you tell us what Mend is and who it serves?
Jessica Neyer: Absolutely. So Mend is a patient engagement platform. So what that means is that we have all the different features that a practice could need within their workflow to engage with a patient. So we have telemedicine, we have digital payments, we have digital forms, we have SMS messaging with a patient, patient scheduling. It’s all there. But our bread and butter is really our telehealth solution. It’s what all of our customers have. And we are primarily a service for practices and providers. So they implement Mend on their end to serve their patients.
Adrian Tennant: Jessica, what does your role with the company entail?
Jessica Neyer: it’s pretty varied. So, you know, with a title like VP of strategy, that could mean a lot of different things at a lot of different places. But what I do is everything from, you know, working with our team on pricing structure, and packaging, and all of that, but you can think of me almost as the GM of a brand new experience that we’ve launched to our providers and actually the advertising world called the enhanced virtual waiting room.
Adrian Tennant: I mentioned in the introduction that telemedicine has seen broader adoption during COVID-19. What kind of growth has Mend seen over the past year?
Jessica Neyer: What we saw as a company was that we were gradually improving over time. There was more and more adoption with telehealth in general, right? Every company was sort of seeing the same thing. But in healthcare, it takes a while to adopt any practice. It’s a really slow-moving machine. But with COVID we saw our sales skyrocket overnight. So practices went from having telemedicine as a nice to have to all of a sudden needing to have telemedicine, in order to keep the lights on. So we saw our sales increase tremendously at that time. And the great thing is our software, our solution never went down in that process. We increased sales. We increased production. I myself was brought into the team as well as a couple of other VPs to truly handle the growth and scale the company and we’re seeing tremendous growth even now, 12 months later after the pandemic hit.
Adrian Tennant: Well, it’s certainly the case that COVID 19 seems to have accelerated that adoption, for sure.
Jessica Neyer: You know, telehealth was interesting. I’ve been involved in this conversation for a while cause everyone was trying to understand, is this just a fad? Is this something doctors needed to adopt because of COVID and they’re going to go right back to their old ways afterward? And what we’re seeing is that we’re kind of in a situation where patients have now experienced telehealth whereas before they hadn’t, in most cases, and now they’re realizing how incredibly easy telehealth makes certain, you know, appointments with your physician and they want it now they’re demanding it. So physicians have to keep it in place in order to continue growing their companies. And there’s a lot of benefits on the provider side as well, that helps with their workflows and efficiencies. So it’s just continuing to grow and turn into this whole other industry that really wasn’t there a couple of years ago.
Adrian Tennant: While conducting background research for this interview, I was surprised by the variety of care that it’s now possible to receive through telemedicine -from general health care, like annual wellness visits to prescriptions for medicine, dermatology, nutrition counseling, and even urgent care conditions such as sinusitis, back pain, urinary tract infections, and common rashes. Jessica, are there any services that don’t translate well to telemedicine?
Jessica Neyer: The only things that really don’t translate well to telemedicine are types of visits that require physical touch. So a surgeon, for example, cannot perform surgery via telemedicine. Or a chiropractor can’t do an adjustment through telemedicine. But everything else works in one capacity or another in telehealth. So, you know, we’re finding all of these new use cases and ways that providers can adopt telehealth for their own individual needs.
Adrian Tennant: Obviously a doctor will ultimately decide whether telemedicine is right for a patient’s health needs. Jessica, have you used telemedicine as a patient? And if so, what was the experience like?
Jessica Neyer: Oh all the time. So I am a mom of a two-and-a-half-year-old, which means I’m probably in the doctor’s office every three weeks! Whether it’s a rash or a this or that, and who knows what’s going on with my daughter? But, I’ve used urgent care quite a bit for her. And primarily I’ve used urgent care through telehealth as a part of it. And my experience has been twofold. So I’ll start with the positive and then I’ll go into the negative. But the positive has been, it’s just been so easy as a consumer to get care when I needed it. So, the last time I used telehealth, for example, I said my daughter had a rash. It was Saturday at seven o’clock, you know, it’s not when her pediatrician was open. So it was so easy for me to just make an appointment for a telehealth service that was available in my area because there are certain legal restrictions of where you can visit a provider on what state they’re in. And I was able to schedule right then and there, I didn’t have to wait, you know, three weeks, a month to get a visit, which could happen in some scenarios. so that was great. And the provider was great. You know, there were no issues getting connected with them. So that was wonderful. The con, across most, telehealth platforms that patients end up using numbers are a little bit all over the place but, the average wait time for telehealth is between 21 and 30 minutes for a patient. So I, myself went to the visit, went to the waiting room and I was staring at a blank screen for 21 to 30 minutes. In this case, it was about 15 till I could see my provider. All things considered not that much time, but patients staring at a blank screen for that long. I didn’t know if I was in the right place. It was pretty boring. I was trying to entertain my daughter at the same time while making sure I was still connected to my virtual visit and that was a challenge. So I think that is definitely a negative that needs to improve in this space. But we’re working on that.
Adrian Tennant: Jessica, Mend has made a major announcement about a new offering. Could you tell us about that?
Jessica Neyer: Yeah, I’m very, very excited about this. And quite frankly, it was one of the huge, huge reasons why I decided to come to Mend because I don’t know of any other company that is addressing this problem or doing what we’re doing, but essentially we just launched what’s called the enhanced virtual waiting room. So, what it is is a Netflix-like library of Mend media. So that’s both content and advertising in the virtual waiting room. So for those 21 to 30 minutes, I told you about before where a patient’s waiting, that’s a captive audience, right? So not only do they have content and they can click around just like they do on YouTube or anything else. But before their video plays, there’s a 30-second advertisement. Uh, and that can be a number of different advertisers, whether it’s pharma or a meditation app or a pharmacy delivery, or, you name it, there’s typically a place there. And so we have been piloting this for a while and it’s been going really, really well. And we just launched to all of our customers, like you said this week, and we are officially launching to the advertising community about it as well.
Adrian Tennant: well, thank you very much for making us part of this announcement. In a fragmented media landscape, of course, it’s harder than ever to capture consumers’ attention. So knowing that the audience is captive is a clear point of differentiation. What was the insight that led you to develop this new platform?
Jessica Neyer: Yeah. So it was really interesting. It was kind of a happy accident, honestly. What happened was we were getting all of this feedback from our customers, our providers, saying that we have a big problem. When patients get to our waiting rooms, they’re staring at a blank screen. They don’t know if they’re in the right place. So they end up, you know, exiting out of it and then they can’t navigate back. And then the doctor doesn’t end up seeing them. And then the doctor doesn’t get paid and that’s wasted time. Or the doctor ends up being, you know, tech support and that’s not what they’re supposed to do. They went to medical school for a reason, right? And we want to make sure they can deliver care and not spend 40 minutes saying, okay, you know, Susie, make sure you’re pressing this and have you checked your microphone and everything else? So we sought out to, you know, figure out, okay, what can we do that’s more engaging for a patient? That entertains them and keeps them in the right place before their visit actually happens? and while we did that, the light bulb went off, for our CEO. This is brilliant, but he said, okay, I think there’s a big opportunity here. This is a captive audience. Why don’t we utilize this space for advertising? And it allows us to subsidize some of the other incredible features that we have. Like, we have live chat support for both the provider and the patient, which is critical and no other telemedicine platforms are doing that. So the advertising revenue allows us to subsidize those costs. So we ended up testing it like I said, the first couple months of this summer, not even to the level we’re doing it now with that Netflix-like library, I explained, um, we just threw up a basic advertisement to see, okay, do advertisers like this? Do our providers like it? Did their patients like it? And legally, can we do this in a sound way, where there are no issues for the provider or for the advertiser at all? And the answer was “yes” to all of those. So that’s what led us really down this path. And we spent the last couple of months tinkering and figuring out from a product perspective, what does this look like? What is the experience? What is the flow? And it’s just been an incredible result.
Adrian Tennant: Well, you mentioned that you’ve piloted this offering prior to launching it. What kinds of reactions did you see from patients?
Jessica Neyer: Patients loved it. So finally, it’s engaging content for them. And if you think about it, it’s the exact same scenario. Better! It’s the exact same scenario though, as when they’re going to a physical waiting room for a doctor. There’s typically a TV screen in the corner and you know, advertisements will play. The difference is although they’re used to that scenario, so it’s nothing crazy or alarming for them. The difference is in a physical waiting room, patients can be on their phones, they can be opening magazines, they can do a number of other things. So the advertiser kind of has the same issues they have with like TV or something else. It’s not truly a captive audience. Versus this: you are truly captive. When you go to a telehealth visit, you’re now looking away. It is critical, right? Cause your care is going to start at any minute. You kind of are at the provider’s mercy. So why not take advantage of that time? And patients love that it’s finally something entertaining to look at versus a blank screen.
Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after this message.
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Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Jessica Neyer, VP of Strategy with telemedicine company Mend which has just launched its enhanced virtual waiting room – a Netflix-like library of content and advertising delivered to a captive audience. What kinds of targeting are possible within the platform?
Jessica Neyer: Great question. Legally, as I mentioned before, there are all of these complications with healthcare that we needed to avoid when it came to targeting. So we made sure that we were protecting first and foremost, our customers, which are providers, since we are a HIPAA compliant platform, we had to jump through certain hoops. although it’d be nice to target based off of individual patients and their visit reasons and everything else, that’s considered PHI. That’s against the rules and we can’t target for those reasons. Instead what we do is we target based off of publicly available knowledge. So we can target based off of the provider, their license number, their specialty, and their geography. Which opens up a number of different opportunities. You can use it, let’s say, in pharma. You can say, okay, I want to target cardiologists and all their patients, because they are typically going and they’re going to see patients with these sorts of, you know, AFIB issues. So that is perfect for this certain drug of mine or whatever it is, or, you know, I’ll give you a different example. We have a campaign running right now. We just launched it in the state of Florida, that’s a PSA. And that’s not specialty-specific at all, but it’s focused on a certain geography. So it’s open to all the providers in that geography, but it’s limited to Florida. So there are so many different opportunities and you can really make it as nuanced as you want while also feeling confident that, both the advertiser and the provider are being protected at the end of the day.
Adrian Tennant: Jessica, what kind of reach does the platform have?
Jessica Neyer: Currently we have over 14,000 providers and growing. We have a number of strategy initiatives, actually another area where I’m focusing my attention to increase our base of physicians, even more beyond our sales outreach, which is fantastic but to help more so on the advertising side. If we know with an advertiser that their focus is a certain specialty, right? And we want to get numbers up in that area. There’s a number of different things that we’re working on to help get those numbers up really quickly, that we’re really excited about.
Adrian Tennant: As an audience-focused agency, Bigeye maximizes the effectiveness of ad campaigns based on a combination of targeted media and dynamic creative with messages designed to resonate with consumers, attitudes, and behaviors. So what creative formats does the platform support?
Jessica Neyer: Currently we support video advertisements as well as banner ads. So that is within the virtual waiting room for telehealth itself. Now, as I mentioned, at the beginning of this, we have a lot of other features that our platform like digital intake forms, appointment reminders via SMS and email. So we’re beginning to explore what other opportunities there are for advertising. But the main thing right now that’s available right away are those video ads and those banner ads.
Adrian Tennant: how does an investment in Mend’s advertising platform compare with other forms of online advertising? Do you sell based on cost per thousand, cost per click, cost per lead, or cost per action?
Jessica Neyer: That’s a great question. Uh, we’re a little different, we charge based off of cost per impression. That’s a unique visitor and they’re then viewing the advertisement. So it’s different than typical forms of advertising where you’re just trying to reach the masses because maybe only a certain percentage of those will convert to actual sales for the advertiser at the end of the day. So it’s kind of just this mass announcement out there and you, you take what you can get. We’re a little different again with how captive our audience actually is. You are targeting a very, very specific demographic or location or whatever it is, and you know you have their attention. So, we do charge per impression.
Adrian Tennant: Is there a skip button available to the user?
Jessica Neyer: There is, but they can only skip after five seconds of viewing it. just like YouTube. We modeled this a lot off of YouTube where the patient has to watch something for a certain amount of time before they can skip it. And something I should mention too, with this notion of YouTube I keep bringing up, we have on each advertisement, it says ad with a countdown clock. So it operates in the same sort of capacity as everything else. And patients know what they’re watching when they’re watching it, and what their opportunities to skip or not are.
Adrian Tennant: So it’s transparent to the user.
Jessica Neyer: Correct.
Adrian Tennant: Are there particular types of products or services that you feel would be a really great fit for the platform?
Jessica Neyer: The opportunities are endless and my mind goes in a thousand different directions. Um, think Peloton, right? The Peloton bike would be phenomenal for all populations. But I think some easy wins are obviously in pharma being able to get in front of the right patients at the right times, right before they end up seeing the doctor. Any sort of wellness solution. There are so many categories associated with that too. You know, for pediatrics, for, uh, a patient that’s going to see a pediatrician, maybe a diaper video, right? Or a certain ointment or a certain cream. It goes in so many different directions, that, you know, really allows the advertisers to be creative and to, you know, think about what could potentially translate and how could I make this work?
Adrian Tennant: Jessica, what do you think telemedicine will look like when COVID-19 is less of a concern? Do you think patients will ever want to return to their doctor’s offices after they’ve been using telemedicine?
Jessica Neyer: It’s a great question. I had to go to a follow-up appointment that I have to do regularly with my doctor. I’m in LA. So there is a ton of traffic, and it takes me an hour to get there. Then like 20 minutes to park and I pay for parking. And then I wait in the waiting room for an hour, and then I see the doctor and it’s only five minutes, but then I have to go through the whole thing again. This time, I was able to just log on, see my provider. It took maybe 15 minutes. I didn’t have to leave work. I didn’t have to leave a whole day to do this. I’m not going back. I want this forever when it comes to follow-up appointments. So we’re about to see a transition for patients where they’re going to want this for a majority of their visits, but not at all. I think we’re going to see a lot more things open up. There will still be some face-to-face, but therapy is a huge example where that’s primarily going to be telehealth moving forward. Because there is no need to be physically with your therapist. Telehealth really solves it all. For most use cases, I should say, I am not a therapist. I don’t know every use case. But it solves most.
Adrian Tennant: How do you see telemedicine and related technologies developing over the next three to five years?
Jessica Neyer: Great question. I am constantly surprised by the innovation that there is. I’ve seen some incredible things just in the last five years alone. So I can’t imagine what the next five years we’ll see for healthcare in general, not only tele-health, but for tele-health I really see us moving into an era where tele-health solutions will be working alongside remote care monitoring services, if not including them. So the doctor will have the full ability to see a patient. So beyond certain use cases that exist today for a provider, a provider will also be able to do something that does require, maybe a slight check of, you know, heart rate or an ear check or eye checks or anything else they’ll have that functionality in those services built into their solution. And we’re already seeing it with certain wearables. Like, for example, I’m wearing an Apple watch. And on that, I can tell my heart rate, I can tell my oxygen levels, a couple of other things, and that can be directly translated through the telehealth visit to the provider so they can continue on with their visit and get certain things under control or be aware of certain levels.
Adrian Tennant: So Jessica away from work, what inspires you? Are you a reader, a podcast listener, a music fan?
Jessica Neyer: Oh, gosh, all of the above. So number one, my daughter inspires me. She is so funny and so creative and constantly keeps me on my toes, which is great. But, work and family aside, I love working out. I’m a bit of an exercise junkie. It’s my therapy. And I’m like a walking billboard for this company, but if anyone’s ever heard of Barry’s Bootcamp, I love it. I do it religiously every day. So that’s what keeps me going. And, you know, as my own little hour away from the insanity of everything else to just unwind.
Adrian Tennant: If IN CLEAR FOCUS, listeners would like to learn more about Mend and how to place advertisements on your platform, where can they find information?
Jessica Neyer: So a couple of different places. Number one, you can go to our website, Mend.com. Or you can email email@example.com or even myself, firstname.lastname@example.org and we’re happy to help you.
Adrian Tennant: Jessica. Thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS.
Jessica Neyer: Thank you so much.
Adrian Tennant: Coming up next time on IN CLEAR FOCUS.
Kathie Baptista: I think that they all inspire me, in different ways. Latina women who are trying to find their own path and be entrepreneurs and do their own thing. It’s very inspiring to be a part of a community that’s all trying to fight for, you know, our place in the world.
Adrian Tennant: That’s an interview with Bigeye designer, Kathie Baptista, next week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. Thanks to my guest this week, Jessica Neyer, vice president of strategy at Mend. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeye agency.com under insights. Just click on the button marked podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or your preferred podcast player. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.