CBI Scene Blog

Point-of-Care: The Patient Friendly Form of Direct-to-Consumer

Posted by Mark Tosh on Jun 26, 2013 4:48:00 PM

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Did you know that more than 200 million adults say they have seen or heard a “healthcare” advertisement over the past 12 months? This means that 85% of adults (or roughly 9 of every 10 people over the age of 18) have a recollection of some type of “health” message, either for an over-the-counter product or a direct-to-consumer prescription drug ad.

This is one of the findings in Kantar Media’s 2013 MARS OTC / DTC Study, and it’s really not that surprising when you consider the billions of dollars healthcare marketers are spending on various media today.

Just consider the plethora of television ads for Rx drugs and all kinds of over-the-counters that are interspersed between reporting segments during the major networks’ nightly news shows. Health seems to be the only “category” of advertising that feels truly at home with the older demographic that’s typically sitting in front of the flat-screen at 6:30 p.m. on a weeknight.

But what's a little surprising about some of the other findings in the MARS study is the number of adults who confirm that they have seen or heard a “health” ad in the physicians’ office. According to the MARS study, only 41% of the 202 million of adult Americans who noticed a healthcare ad acknowledged seeing or hearing this ad in the doctor’s office – a location that marketers often refer to as the point-of-care. (By comparison, however, even fewer people – just 40% – reported viewing a healthcare ad while using the Internet).

This 41% of adults who noticed a point of care ad is surprising, in large part, because the doctor’s office – or even the pharmacy – seems to be such a natural environment for presenting people with health information, whether it’s unbranded disease education or branded product advertising. Indeed, if you’re in the doctor’s office, it’s undoubtedly a health-related visit for you or a loved one and you are certainly in a state of mind where health “messaging” would seem appropriate.

I would characterize this style of point of care DTC as “unobtrusive,” and one would believe that messaging delivered at the point of care is more likely to resonate with a person viewing or hearing it. The doctor’s office – or the pharmacy – is a spot where you are in a frame of mind where health messages are welcomed. This was pointed out in a recent report in the publication PM 360 (PM 360 April 2013 issue / The Future of DTC/DTP Marketing is in Patients’ Hands), where the author explained why the “Bigger is Better” approach to DTC campaigns is now taking a backseat to what he called “DTP,” or direct to patient, a style of advertising that puts the emphasis on engaging the patient.

“The one thing all those patients have in common is that they have some type of relationship with their healthcare professional,” the author, Ken Freirich, wrote in PM 360. “A huge opportunity exists for pharmaceutical marketers to enhance patient/HCP dialogue, to deliver better, more compassionate care for patients, which positively impacts both NRx and TRx for brands.”

As Freirich also notes, “smart DTP marketers” now understand that raising awareness alone with mass DTC “rarely offers the firepower needed to ignite action that leads to better healthcare outcomes.” Instead, a better option and opportunity is for marketers to offer education and informational tools to patients at the spot where they are open and willing to consume this content – the point of care.

In a world where people are overwhelmed with marketing messages on a non-stop basis, it seems that being the “unobtrusive” content provider is a better way to go for marketers who want to truly engage with their audience. And we can think of no better place to enhance the consumer / HCP dialogue than at the point of care.

(Image courtesy of frances1972 via Flickr)

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Mark Tosh Managing Editor — News & Analysis at Medivo BTP Insights

Mark is a journalist and pundit with several years experience writing and speaking about the life sciences sector, particularly pharmaceutical marketing to patients and physicians. In 2011, he helped found the Point-of-Care Communications Association (PCCA), an industry group committed to building awareness for point-of-care marketing. Mark also is the former editor and publisher of the monthly newsletter DTC Insights and editor of Medical Marketing & Media. He can be reached by e-mail at MTosh@medivo.com or Tweet at him @BTP_Insights.

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Topics: Brand & Digital Strategy, Patient Access