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Print: Alive and Well at the Point of Care


Concerned smartphones will eliminate the print industry? Remember 20 years ago when the same thing was said about the internet? Or years before that when television spelled the demise of print or even further back, the radio?

It seems like every new technology results in projections about the end of print. Apparently, someone forgot to tell the print industry.

I can assure you that no one has told the pharma industry that print is dead, as evidenced by the $1.53 billion spent by the industry on magazine ads in 2015, a 19% increase from 2014 according to data from Nielsen cited by FiercePharma.[1] As for PatientPoint, I can tell you that we’ve seen a 44% increase in the number of print topics produced from 2011 to 2015. If anything, print is growing in the pharma marketing world, not shrinking.

But why? Why do pharma marketers continue to spend billions of dollars on print ads? Why do doctors continue to request print brochures to hand out to their patients? Why do industry suppliers – some of which have digital products in waiting rooms, exam rooms, and doctor offices across the nation – continue to not only offer, but encourage the use of print education as well?

Because print still works at the point of care.

Consider the young parents who just found out from their doctor that their infant has psoriasis. Unfamiliar with what lotions can be used on their baby’s skin, the parents are thankful for the brochure given to them by the pediatrician that outlines the dos and don’ts of baby skin care. Already dealing with lack of sleep and middle-of-the-night feedings, this printed brochure hangs on the refrigerator for easy reference. Information at their fingertips without any additional required clicks.

Educational_brochures_2x_CCOr take the case of the middle-aged man who sees an erectile dysfunction ad in his favorite sports magazine, but has been too embarrassed to broach the subject with his doctor. At his next appointment, in the privacy of the exam room, he finds an ED brochure, using the advice inside to start the conversation with his doctor. Print ads for ED medications like Cialis and Viagra ranked first and third as the most advertised drugs in 2014, according to Nielsen data published in Bloomberg.[2] Why? Because print is discreet and personal, just like healthcare.

Or what about the woman who has digestive problems, receives a new prescription, and finds a coupon to reduce its cost right in front of her as she leaves her appointment? Does this easy-to-access and redeem savings give her the extra incentive she needs to fill the script and start a new course of treatment that will improve her health?

In all of these scenarios, getting the right information to the right person at the right time was achieved through a printed product.

Like you, we have heard the doom and gloom forecast for the print industry. Industry introduced many of the digital products that have such a valuable role in doctor offices and exam rooms, but were also supposed to lead to the end of print. Even still, we recommend a diverse marketing approach that includes printed education to many of our sponsors.

Why? Because print still works at the point of care.

In fact, 9 out of 10 patients learned a tip they could take action on from our exam room education, while 96% of patients agreed we make health information easy to understand. We’re proud to have printed material in 75,000 exam rooms…and growing.

Why? Because print still works at the point of care.



[1] FiercePharma, “Once again, Pharma beats all other industries with $1.5B in magazine ads.” April 4, 2016.

[2] Bloomberg, “It’s Like Viagra for Pharma Ads: Pfizer’s $1.4 Billion Marketing Blitz.” March 30, 2015.

Kate Merz
Vice President of Editorial and Creative at PatientPoint
Kate Merz is the Vice President of Editorial and Creative at PatientPoint, the trusted leader of patient and physician engagement solutions at the point of care. Merz can be reached by email at or telephone at (513) 936-6859.
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