A very cool branch of webcasting is associated with live broadcasts of surgeries as they are being performed. Last week, I saw some press associated with a webcast showing cryoablation of a six-year old's heart to cure a rapid heartbeat.
Monday at 4pm Eastern US time you can watch live footage of Endovascular Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair (whatever that is). Now admittedly, the comedian in me loves the idea that the doctors are using something called a Gore Excluder (wasn't that the name for the Bush re-election committee in 2004?) and that the website URL is www.or-live.com/gore (which seems to be a remarkably fitting address).
But the webinar evangelist and marketing guru in me is fascinated by the idea that the webcasts are not just training aids for doctors, as I initially guessed. This article from IndyStar.com points out that the webcast is preceded by its own marketing campaign and is part of a revenue generating strategy for the hospital to attract patients in need of "high-margin, high-prestige procedures." Webcasts such as this show off the hospital and the doctors as cutting-edge (did the author intend that pun?) for prospective patients and referring doctors.
The article states that a medical webcast such as this, hosted on the specialized or-live.com website can cost from $30,000 to $45,000 to put on. Think about that the next time you are bellyaching about the $5,000 it is costing you to put on your marketing webinar! The company that runs the website (hardly an objective observer) says that an average of 10 to 20 surgeries attributed to the webcast are booked within three weeks of the event. They run the whole thing as a business venture with press releases, banner advertising, and direct mail. They also put links on the webcast viewing frame allowing doctors to immediately refer a patient or for patients to book an appointment. There are links to information about the surgeons, the hospital, and the medical equipment.
Web conferencing in its many forms is invading all sorts of business niches. This is a nice example of a company that has created a model for high cost/high return business use of webcasting in a field you wouldn't normally associate with public internet broadcasting. We should see more and more unexpected uses of webinars and webcasts as comfort levels rise with the technology.