Something that is obvious to me and my physician colleagues, but seems to surprise some advertising agencies, is that HCPs don’t use their smartphones nearly as much as folks in other industries. At least not at the POC (point of care). There’s a reason for this: In the hospital and clinic, HCPs are constantly interacting with the EHR (electronic health record). When we’re already at a desktop, it’s easier to pop open a browser window than pull out your phone.

Sure, doctors are using smartphones more—but at POC, desktops aren’t going anywhere. At MDCalc we’ve seen this trend: Mobile use has increased tremendously over the last five years, but still represents less than half of our total use. That’s because MDCalc is used at POC—when doctors are making clinical decisions—not while they’re at home. A challenge is that hospital browsers are famously old, clunky versions of MS Internet Explorer, and are always behind a firewall. It’s insanely common—laughably so, even among the most prestigious medical systems. Good old hospital bureaucracy!

It’s so evident to me as a doctor that I’m surprised at how many folks in the healthcare advertising industry have little insight into this phenomenon. Ads, aimed at HCPs in the POC space, will often not be optimized to these old browsers. Sometimes the UI even breaks. One extreme story: MDCalc was accused by an ad agency’s verification company of having bot traffic—after an investigation, we discovered their system was confused by old hospital browsers and firewalls, and actually prevented the ads from being shown exactly where the advertiser wanted them to be seen. We helped them look into the two other “POC” references that they were using, and, interestingly, they discovered that those sites were rarely actually being used at POC (social media reference, and another that’s only used by mobile).

In other words, analytics companies that position themselves as experts aren’t aware of this common issue—that’s painfully obvious to doctors. So, if you’re trying to reach docs at the point of care, a few words of advice:

  1. Make sure you’re advertising on sites that are actually used at POC.
  2. Design creative that goes on both desktop and mobile and that is optimized for old browsers.
  3. Use an authentication provider that knows about these issues.

Good luck. I’ll see you in the hospital (through my old, slow, IE browser).

  • Joseph Habboushe

    Joseph Habboushe, MD, MBA is CEO and Co-founder of MDCalc. He is also an Emergency Physician at NYU Langone & Bellevue Medical Centers. A serial physician entrepreneur, Dr. Habboushe is passionate about finding creative solutions to healthcare problems. He is a practicing emergency medicine physician, the CEO and Co-founder of MDCalc—the largest physician owned and run medical reference—and the founder of Vitalis Pharmaceuticals.

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