From IEG SR’s perspective, few categories represent as much opportunity as the healthcare industry.

Driven by the ongoing rollout of the Affordable Care Act and the aging Baby Boomer population, nearly every segment of the industry is undergoing seismic changes in how they market products and deliver services.

That evolution has created new sponsorship opportunities for nearly every type of property as companies place more focus on taking their messages directly to consumers.

Those messages range from anti-obesity and other health and wellness campaigns to educating consumers about undiagnosed medical conditions and the products that treat them.

Below, IEG SR provides an overview of three active segments of the healthcare industry and their sponsorship hot buttons:

Drugstore chains. Walgreen Co., Rite Aid Corp. and other drugstore chains are placing more focus on sponsorship to support their health and wellness positioning and promote front-of-store products.

One growing trend: customer rewards programs. Like other types of retailers, drugstore chains are increasingly using sponsorship to access perks and other assets that can be used to reward loyalty club members.

For example, Walgreen uses its partnership with Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to promote its Balance Rewards loyalty program. The company activates the tie by distributing pedometers to race participants who earn points for every mile walked. Consumers can then use the points to gain discounts on future purchases.

Like other types of retailers, drugstore chains frequently leverage with vendor partners. For example, Walgreen in January partnered with The Procter & Gamble Co. to activate the CPG company’s sponsorship of The People’s Choice Awards. Walgreen activated the tie with “Night at the W,” an in-store event held the day after the show. The event featured Walgreen beauty advisors who used CoverGirl, Pantene and other P&G products to help customers create their own “red carpet look.”

Another key hot button: community involvement. Walgreen last year partnered with the NFL Detroit Lions in a deal that affords presenting status of the team’s “Living for the City” health and wellness initiative for disadvantaged and at-risk families.

The deal also provides a platform to drive store traffic: Walgreen activated the sponsorship with in-store flu immunization events that featured both current and former Lions players.

Sponsorship hot buttons: drive store traffic; demonstrate community involvement; promote customer loyalty programs; promote in-store clinics

Hospitals. Health care reform and industry consolidation continues to drive new sponsorship activity on behalf of hospitals.

While hospitals previously used sponsorship in large part to promote areas of expertise, they are increasingly using the medium to promote broader health and wellness messages.

The Hospital for Special Surgery activates the NBA New York Knicks with the “Train like a Knicks” contest, around which fans can submit entertaining exercise videos on the team’s Facebook page. The contest dangles the opportunity to train with Knicks trainers and alumni at the MSG Training Center in Tarrytown, N.Y. among other prizes.

HSS also uses the sponsorship to discuss the importance of physical fitness through a series of videos that feature Knicks players, doctors and announcers. The hospital shows the videos at home games and on the Knicks’s Facebook page.

Sponsorship hot buttons: promote health and wellness; showcase medical expertise in action; demonstrate community involvement

Health insurers. While they once used sponsorship to build their brands and promote health and wellness, a growing number of insurers are using the medium to engage consumers and reach new audiences.

That activity is driven in large part by the Affordable Care Act and the millions of consumers that will soon be required to purchase health insurance.

And some companies are already expanding their portfolios prior to the Oct. 1 rollout of health insurance exchanges.

Case in point: Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is signing new deals to reach Latinos and other under-insured consumer segments. The company this month announced a $1 million partnership with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, around which it will sponsor NJPAC’s Sounds of the City summer concert series and the nonprofit’s Latin and urban music performances.

Sponsorship hot buttons: reach uninsured consumers; support CSR initiatives; promote Medicare Advantage programs to senior citizens; promote loyalty wellness programs