Ambulance chasing is so yesterday. Today, lawyers are virtually following people to the hospital.
You'll never see them doing it because it's done through cell phones. Law firms are using geofencing to send advertisements to patients' mobile devices even as they sit in the waiting room.
It's like in Minority Report, when ads pop up everywhere Tom Cruise goes. That's right, now there's no getting away from attorney advertising.
Ars Technica explains geofencing this way:
"Geofencing can essentially create a digital perimeter around certain locations and target location-aware devices within the borders of those locations." It identifies phones through Wi-Fi, cell data, or apps using GPS.
According to reports, personal injury attorneys are targeting emergency rooms. In the process, patients may see lawyer ads for more than a month -- and on multiple devices.
National Public Radio says law firms and marketing companies from "Tennessee to California" are testing out the technology.
Not in My Hospital
Naturally, privacy advocates and others have a problem with it.
"Private medical information should not be exploited in this way," says Massachusetts' attorney general Maura Healey. "Especially when it's gathered secretly without a consumer's knowledge, without knowledge or consent."
So there may be a HIPPA hiccup, but what about other venues? Tax collection offices? The unemployment department? Police stations? People need lawyers there, too.
Geofencing appears to be the next big thing in lawyer advertising.