As pharma marketers continue to expand their footprint in the point of care (POC) channel – a channel where spending is growing at eight-times the rate of television spending – they are realizing not only its potential but the importance of ensuring their messaging mirrors their brand essentials as much as possible. For pharmaceutical brands, the moment of truth happens in the exam room, the “magic moment” when the physician is discussing treatment options with the patient and the prescription is being written.
We encourage pharma partners to view point-of-care as an extension of, not adjunct to, their overall marketing campaign. That’s the mindset needed to unlock the full potential of a pharma brand in the POC channel – and this channel offers lots of opportunities to do just that. First, though, consider POC’s uniqueness and develop strategies and tactics accordingly. Tried and true branding and marketing philosophies are a good place to start.
Consider the setting
We are not the same person when we are watching a television commercial in our basement during a football game as we are sitting in a waiting room in a doctor’s office or wearing a gown in the exam room. We are no longer a consumer of mass media but rather a patient thinking about our personal health. Your creative should capitalize on this environment and mindset.
Let’s look at Crohn’s disease as an example. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, approximately 780,000 Americans have Crohn’s disease. TV as a medium for advertising Crohn’s treatments has become quite prevalent as of late. While this raises awareness of the condition, or can generate website traffic, given the millions of people watching television, it can be like finding a needle in haystack to reach the target patient suffering from Crohn’s disease. However, consider if that campaign had a strong pull through in physicians’ offices, and not just any physician, but IBD gastroenterologists. Brands could go much deeper with education and dialogue starters to address flare ups, treatments, compliance, etc. This setting encourages meaningful conversations between patients and physicians, and results in a direct correlation to an increase in new prescriptions.
As marketers, we strive for a multi-channel marketing plan in which both print and digital play a vital role. The same holds true in the doctor’s office. While the educational brochure is and will remain an influential POC execution, brands have the opportunity to innovate and engage tech-savvy patients who expect innovation in the healthcare arena.
Take the use of interactive 3D anatomical models as an example. With print and TV advertising, patients are pushed a message and but aren’t really interacting with the brand. PatientPoint technology in the exam room is designed to foster interaction with touchscreens and explorations with 3D models that show inside of their body. This accessible interactive tool, also available on mobile for physicians, is unlike anything that has been offered before. Brands can extend their creative to sponsor this content, building innovative brand associations not possible through pushed mass market content.
Patients crave information like never before. 80% of internet users look for health information online, making medical inquiries the third most popular web-based pursuit, following only email and search engine use. Physicians, too, crave information; indeed, it is integral to providing up-to-date meaningful information. They require an endless stream of information to keep up on the latest research and treatment options. In POC, we have the ability to target and validate helpfulness and credibility, which is important since trusting content found on the web is often challenging.
Pharma can be helpful by strengthening the patient-provider relationship through its sponsorship of tools and information that help make complex medical issues easier to explain and understand (especially now that you can’t sponsor pens or hand sanitizers!).
Remember your message
Your brand need not be left at the waiting or exam room door. Pulling through your brand message to a POC execution does not need to be challenging. Assessing creative thoughtfully will help determine if it is a direct pull through or if custom content should be created. We guide our pharma partners through those decisions, helping them see how to create advertising that positions their brands while adhering to established branding guidelines. Bringing that same expertise to the POC channel will ensure the right brand message resonates with patients and physicians.
Like other health care touchpoints, POC offers a wide variety of opportunities for creative execution. The National Health Information Awards (NHIA) program, for example, honors leading organizations in the consumer health field. The NHIA program – the most comprehensive competition of its kind – sets the standard for the industry’s educational collateral. Honorees include prestigious organizations like the American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, March of Dimes, and Parents magazine. At PatientPoint, we’re proud that, over the past 12 years, our point-of-care programs have been recognized by the NHIA with a total of 431 awards, a great honor that brings credibility for our sponsor brands to medical professionals. Your brand can win awards here, too.
Pharma marketers who apply their marketing prowess to POC will reap the full rewards of a channel that offers unparalleled opportunities for deepening relationships with patients and providers, and for delivering the right message at the right time. The best POC program is seamless with TV, print, sponsorships, detailing, and other pharma marketing tools, and takes into account the touchpoint’s unique needs and opportunities.