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At the Forefront of Healthcare and Marketing: What does experiential marketing have to do with 3D printing?

As you may already know (and if you didn’t, now you do), I am a regular columnist for Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Authority Magazine, with the fantastic opportunity to interview thought leaders in a variety of industries—healthcare, marketing, and technology—just to name a few. From my interviews with these leaders, I’ve immersed in a mix of […]

As you may already know (and if you didn’t, now you do), I am a regular columnist for Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Authority Magazine, with the fantastic opportunity to interview thought leaders in a variety of industries—healthcare, marketing, and technology—just to name a few.

From my interviews with these leaders, I’ve immersed in a mix of worlds, and I became curious to see what happens if we add healthcare + the idea of the future of work + marketing. And so here you have it, an ongoing series exploring the cross intersections of healthcare innovation, the future of work, and the evolution of marketing.

In each article, I will choose two cutting edge concepts—one in the complicated world of healthcare, and another in the creative field of marketing—and highlight unique ways the two worlds can collide. 

For the most exciting, most pioneering, most amazing innovations only exist when worlds collide. 


You are in for a lucky treat! Today, we will explore the role of 3-dimensional printing in the healthcare industry and ways that experiential marketing can be applied.

So, first and foremost…

WHAT IS 3D PRINTING

Imagine a typical HP office printer. It is large, sits in the corner of your office, next to rows of pens, papers, highlighters and post-it notes.

Except, instead of spitting out hundreds of papers for your 1:00pm report (or sitting in your office) it spits out a heart. Or a leg. Or an arm. 

3D printing is a cutting edge innovation that can attribute it’s an anomaly to a process called additive manufacturing. In short, it is the process of creating a three-dimensional object from a digital file.

WE CAN PRINT BONES, BLOOD VESSELS, AND HUMAN EARS

How is 3D printing applied in the world of healthcare? A lot, actually. 3D printershave already been used to print (practically from thin air—but not really), finger splits, educational anatomical models (such as a tumor or organ model), personalized plaster, skin, and organs. 

BONES

Human bones have been printed in the world of medicine. Scientists, engineers, and bioengineers have discovered ways to print hyperelastic bones. 

Scientists Dr. Ramille Shah and Dr. Adam Jakus from Northwestern University has created a corporation called Dimension Inx. The bones printed are made of the same mineral as in your teeth and your bones. The hyperelastic 3D printed bones not only encourage bone growth, but it can grow once implanted.

The research is still very new but has enormous implications for the future.

HUMAN EARS

Yes, those things on the sides of our head. Cornell scientists Dr. Jason Spector and Associate Professor Lawrence Bonassar are on a mission to provide hope to thousands born with microtia, a deformity of the ears.

The formidable duo and team have created a technique to print human ears using stem cells derived from fat. 

The process is incredible! “It takes half a day to design the mold, a day or so to print it, 30 minutes to inject the gel, and we can remove the ear 15 minutes later. We trim the ear and then let it culture for several days in nourishing cell culture media before it is implanted” 

— Associate Professor Lawrence Bonassar

And finally, if not last…

BLOOD VESSELS

A team of engineers in sunny and beautiful Southern California is on a mission to print complex blood vessel network. Dr. Shachen Chenand a group of engineers at the University of California has received support from NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).

Why would we want to print blood vessels, you may ask? Well–

“Almost all tissues and organs need blood vessels to survive and work properly. This is a big bottleneck in making organ transplants, which are in high demand but in short supply,” says Chen. “3-D bioprinting organs can help bridge this gap, and our lab has taken a big step toward that goal.”

Now that we’ve had a toe-dip in how 3D printing can—and already have—been applied in the science fiction-like world of healthcare, lets quickly pivot to the more creative, art-plus-science marketing universe.

EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING

In this article, I wanted to explore the newer evolution of experiential marketing. Experiential marketing or engagement marketingis a strategy with the goal to immerse YOU—the consumer—into our world. Our product. We want you to live, to breath, to touch, to feel and to see who we are. What we do.

WHAT ARE EXAMPLES OF EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING

JUMPING FOR DERRICK ROSE

In 2013, Adidas and Derrick Rosepartnered to open a pop-up store in London. The 6’3 Chicago Bulls point guard challenged guests to jump a foot in the air and win a pair of free shoes.

ICE-RACING MY ASTON MARTIN 

Imagine that you are in an Aston Martin. Most likely yours. You rev your engine. You smell the leather. All around you, you see the ice, snow, and more ice. And then they say ‘go!’

In 2014, a group of very lucky Aston Martin owners had the opportunityto test drive several models in the Colorado Rockies. The experience was shared widely on social media and was so successful that Aston Martin planned a similar experience the following year.

So how can our favorite doctors apply the exciting and –frankly—fun method of marketing to their products once it is commercially available?

HOW DO WE APPLY EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING TO HEALTHCARE

BONES

Create an Escape Room set in an Emergency Room. You are Dr. Smith, and a new patient just came in with a severely broken leg. To escape the Emergency Room of terror, you and your team must discover the secret codes to enable each step of the bone-building process, print the right bone parts, and implant in the patient appropriately. Within 1 hour. 

BLOOD VESSELS

There is a long table. On the table lays a dummy body with an open chest. Next to the body is an artificial beating heart. Next to the heart is a giant bowl of cooked spaghetti with tons of gooey tomato sauce. 

A large timer is placed over the body, with a 5-minute count down. Your audience is challenged to use the strands of noodle to create vessel passageways for the heart transplant, or the dummy body buzzes. 

Create a gamification strategy. Each time the vessel falls or is placed in the wrong location, have a buzzer. Make it progressively harder. Film the events live on Facebook. Share, share, share on Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn. #hashtag 

HUMAN EAR

Birdbox Style! We are in the Netflix thriller birdbox. We are in a giant gymnasium with an obstacle course. There is a row of customers with blindfolds. They must use their ears, and their touch, to navigate the obstacle course.

So there you have it! Drop me a line, and share any other ideas for how our doctors can use experiential marketing to infuse fun and immersion into the world of medicine.


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