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BrightWhistle Secures $2.1M to Help Hospitals Market Services

Atlanta, GA – BrightWhistle Inc ., a company that uses social media to help hospitals with patient acquisition and targeted advertising campaigns, has raised a $2.05 million Series A round to build up its sales team and hire developers, the company said.

The funding was led by Eastside Partners, joined by Hamilton Ventures and angel investors Paul Iaffaldano, Fred Goad and G.T. Laborde, most of whom are returning investors.

Atlanta-based BrightWhistle last summer raised $1.1 million in seed funding from Eastside Partners, Hamilton Ventures and several angel investors, the company said.

Company spokesman Robert Anderson said BrightWhistle serves between 15 and 20 major hospitals, including Duke University Hospital and Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital.

Though the company has its own unique business model, BrightWhistle could be broadly described as a lead-generation company. Lead generation is a marketing term that refers to using various online platforms to stoke consumer interest in certain products or services.

While lead generation has grown steadily in tandem with the growth of the Internet–and is used in a variety of industries–BrightWhistle considers itself the first to bring a full suite of digital marketing techniques to the health-care industry, which has appreciably different rules and parameters than other industries.

The company is the first, for example, to integrate with Facebook and other digital campaigns that are compliant with HIPAA, or strict federal privacy guidelines that govern all health-care communications, Mr. Anderson said.

In addition to targeted ad campaigns delivered via Facebook , Google and other platforms, BrightWhistle offers directory management and feedback management, further mainstays of the lead-generation business, he said.

Directory management relates to curating a customer’s listing on review sites like Yelp, and feedback management has to do with managing various reviews of services by consumers.

Hospitals don’t use BrightWhistle to advertise their core business of healing the sick, but to promote special programs–for example, elective procedures like cosmetic surgery–and to engage patients who want a certain service, but haven’t yet put the wheels in motion, Mr. Anderson said. Additionally, the company aims to reach consumers who are researching various services and treatments, he said.

“It’s the true dawn of consumerism in health care,” he said.

The company has more in common with traditional lead-generation companies–for example, Yodle Inc.–than it does with other companies that handle marketing for the health-care industry, Mr. Anderson said, and considers Yodle and others to be competitors.