Offering unreimbursed medical services puts radiology in a new market: the consumer market. In order to reach this market, centers must go beyond the standard physician-to-physician marketing that has served radiology so well in the past.

To help new scanning centers market their services. Fireball Marketing, an El Segundo, Calif, advertising agency, has set up Fireball Imaging to help both entrepreneurs and medical professionals launch their new businesses. Medical advisor Carrie Becks, a former radiology technologist and capital equipment salesperson, says the firm has already created programs for five centers, and is currently working with five others on customized brochures, as well as radio, TV, and print advertising targeted to consumers. It also provides site design and training services.

Radio has proven an effective medium for attracting clients to Imaging for Life. It has been running 60-second spots on three New York area news and business stations, WINS, WCBS, and WBBR. A news story in the New York Times created widespread interest, but advertisements placed in a local lifestyle magazine were ineffective, according to George Berk, MD, a cardiologist who launched a whole body scanning center in White Plains, NY. He plans to use the Wall Street Journal to announce his first Manhattan center.

HealthScreen, a Jacksonville, Fla-based center offering heart and lung scans as well as virtual colonoscopy, has been using newspapers and magazines, and reports good success airing a 30-minute infomercial on cable TV. AmeriScan reportedly has been spending $30,000 a month to market its Scottsdale location, and has created an extensive Web site.

One of its promotions is targeted to corporations, recommending they fund health screening for top executives and subsidize employee discounts. It also has offered benefits packages to clubs, resorts, and conventions.

Richard B. Elsberry is a contributing writer for Decisions in Axis Imaging News.