February 28, 2008, 12:00 AM

Spend ‘til you mend: bedridden hospital patients to shop online

The GetWellNetwork, which lets patients in some 50 hospitals use their TVs to access educational and entertainment content, will market to a captive audience when it adds access to online shopping in a partnership with The Paquin Group.

Shopping therapy will take on a new meaning when an online marketing and e-commerce project debuts this spring in an effort to bring bedridden hospital patients into online shopping through their television sets.

The project is a collaboration of the GetWellNetwork Inc., which lets patients in some 50 hospitals use wireless keyboards to access educational and entertainment content on room televisions, and The Paquin Group, which helps hospitals identify revenue-generating retail opportunities. Paquin will host the online store that will offer more than 250,000 products, including items aimed at expectant mothers, diabetics, heart patients and other types of patients.

The Medical University of South Carolina, which has been using the GetWellNetwork service for two years, plans to add the e-commerce functionality to patients’ TVs when it becomes available this spring. “Giving access to the online store from the patient bedside is a wonderful convenience for patients, allowing us to deliver a better hospital experience-one that is becoming increasingly expected by patients,” says David Bennett, director of web resource services at the hospital.

Once the e-commerce feature is added, the GetWellNetwork will prompt patients upon admission, prior to discharge and after viewing prescribed educational videos to visit the hospital’s online store to purchase product and service packages recommended by the patients’ physicians.

“Patients will enjoy the ease and convenience of ordering products and services to aid in their recovery before they even leave the hospital-while hospitals will benefit from the potential revenue opportunity,” says Michael O’Neil, Jr., founder and CEO of GetWellNetwork.

“In recent years, the online health care industry has grown to a billion-dollar-plus market,” says Tony Paquin, CEO of The Paquin Group. “By integrating online shopping into the delivery of patient care, hospitals are able to not only improve the patient experience but also effectively generate additional revenue streams.” The hospital’s share of the revenue from online sales was not disclosed.

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