March 17th, 2008

Another Thing The Doctor Ordered

By Burt Helm
BusinessWeek

Flat-screen TVs that deliver child-care advice—and ads—are popping up in pediatricians’ offices. Tampa’s KidCare TV uses a broadband connection to transmit two-to-five-minute segments—on proper feeding techniques and sleep positions for infants, for instance. Interspersed among the segments: 30-second spots for Capri Sun juice, Gerber Life Insurance, and other brands. KidCare TV, which was officially launched in late November, has installed LCD screens in about 1,000 U.S. doctors’ offices.

Pediatricians who have put in the free service seem to like what they’ve seen so far. Bernard Berchin, who practices in New York, says the health-care segments are “an adjunct to what I try to accomplish here in the office,” though he’s keeping an eye on the types of ads that run. Because the commercials are delivered digitally, KidCare TV can withdraw any that prompt complaints at specific offices, says company CEO Philip Cohen, adding that all the advertisers are vetted by the company’s advisory panel of seven board-certified pediatricians.

American Academy of Pediatrics spokesman Donald Shifrin, however, is skeptical about KidCare TV’s waiting-room broadcasts. “It seems to be more of a service for advertisers than for parents,” he says, adding that it’s “rather odd that we’d talk to parents about the appropriate amount of ‘screen time’ for their youngsters and then have a 32-inch screen in our waiting rooms.”

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