The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently moved to make its content more interactive, engaging, and accessible by inserting QR codes into its articles. QR codes (or quick response codes) were originally designed by a Toyota subsidiary for tracking cars throughout the manufacturing process, but have more recently found application as marketing tools for everyone from Walmart to small mom-and-pop shops.

There are numerous smartphone apps that interpret QR codes, such as Google Goggles. For JAMA, these codes will allow readers to access podcasts of study discussions, other relevant content, and more – promoting a conversation rather than the simple delivery of information.

Dr. Howard Bauchner, JAMA’s editor-in-chief, explains that popular magazines peaked his interest in implementing the QR codes.

“I was reading the New Yorker one week, and on the first ten pages there were five QR codes. So I took out my smart phone and voila, they had the first few chapters of someone’s new book. The JAMA tech staff told Bauchner they could create QR codes for their website within the week.”

While popular culture has embraced the QR code, the healthcare field has been slow to adopt them. According to a Medical Marketing (MM) survey, 65 percent of physicians don’t know about this information resource, and less then 20% have QR reader software on their smartphones. In fact, 95% of physicians do not currently use QR codes.

Given other data suggesting early and pervasive smartphone adoption, this is fairly surprising particularly with the potential benefits. Certain professionals believe the marketing potential for doctors and healthcare facilities is immeasurable. Some of the practical applications include linking to physician contact information, promotional codes for medical screenings, maps of the doctor’s office and post procedure instructions, to name a few.

According to the post from Kaiser Health News,

“In addition, Bauchner says JAMA along with the other Archive journals will launch a Web app tailored for tablets in that same month. ‘So in addition to QR codes we are going to have more modern technology of tablet-ready materials.’ The editor-in-chief says that publishing for the iPad and other tablets will be a huge leap for medical journals, because it will merge print and Web readers closer together. The journal is making other changes including new cover art, which Bauchner says can drive more readers to the site and eventually to the QR code. ‘As one reader told me, I guess this is not your father’s JAMA anymore.’ “

Source: Kaiser Health News