When TV doctors call you to make an appointment

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Forget to make that annual doctor appointment again? Don't worry. Patrick Dempsey can call to remind you.

Dempsey, as well as other actors who played doctors, have returned to Cigna's TV Doctors of America campaign to remind Americans to get their annual check‑up.

“One the hardest things is picking up the phone and scheduling it,” said Stephen Cassell, VP of global branding at Cigna. “So we thought, ‘What about a creative reminder to jog the memory and provoke an action?' The idea of paging a doctor and encouraging people to reach out in a fun way was really what we were trying to do.”

Along with Dempsey, Neil Patrick Harris, kid doctor Doogie Howser fame; Donald Faison from Scrubs; and Kate Walsh, a doctor on both Private Practice and Grey's Anatomy returned for Page a TV Doc. Part of the fun, Cassell said, is not knowing which TV doctor is going to call you back.

Anyone, not just Cigna members, can “page” a TV doctor using Cigna's hotline, essentially setting a reminder to get a check up. One of the actors will call back a month later with the reminder and a message about how preventive care can save as many as 100,000 lives each year. Cigna is promoting the hotline with digital, social, and, in some cities, out-of-home ad placements. The insurer is working with Edelman and McCann.

Dempsey and his faux medical colleagues aren't actually spending their days calling and texting Cigna members, of course, but the campaign is bringing Cigna's message about the importance of preventive care straight to its members' mobile phones.

“It's actually a personalized outreach to you and to your phone number,” said Cassell. “It makes it a fun way to engage with these TV doctors.”

TV Doctors of America launched in September with a series of funny, and self-aware, ads. The actors explained that, despite playing doctors on TV, they don't know much about medicine, but they do know how to make a dramatic commercial and that preventive care is important.

Cassell said the goal of the campaign is to build on the rising rate of Cigna members seeking preventive care, citing that annual check-ups have gone up 18% in two years. Success in this effort would mean that number goes up again.

“We want to make people aware of the importance of the role of prevention versus just thinking about healthcare when you're sick,” Cassell said. “We're after not just people who are above a certain age or below a certain age; there are young people who have prediabetes or high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Preventive care helps get people on the road to good health.”

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