Ad Technology

Understanding Point of Care’s Evolving Role

By: Lynnsey Rijos

Reaching consumers minutes before they meet with their doctor has become easier and essential for healthcare/pharma marketers – mainly due to point-of-care (POC) marketing efforts, a channel that continues to grow and gain momentum. But how did POC become so important?   It’s been around for quite some time, but POC has evolved over the years and changed the way marketers integrate it into their overall marketing strategy.

At one time it was pivotal to get your brand in front of the practicing physician, with the hopes they’d recognize the value of the brand and ultimately write a prescription for their patients, thus achieving a positive ROI. The physician was alerted to various treatment options via visits from pharma sales reps and informational/educational material made readily available. In recent years, however, it has been the patient that brands want to influence and if they aren’t, they definitely should be. The physician is still an important audience, but with the influx of wearable technology and connected health options, patients are becoming active participants in their own health and initiating the conversation with their physician.

What better environment is there to craft your brand’s story and drive conversion than when the consumer’s condition is top of mind? Knowing the average wait time in a doctor’s office can range from 20-30 minutes per visit leaves a window of opportunity for pharma brands to be seen and ensure their message resonates with the patient. Media partners such as Patient Point, AccentHealth  and Health Media Network, just to name a few, are expanding their POC offerings to allow marketers to reach their audience in the waiting room and exam room  with TV screens, brochures, wallboards, magazines, and other forms of advertising.

Some may argue these waiting room/ exam room tactics are not as impactful as mobile devices, since it’s something consumers are constantly connected to.  Although that is a fair assessment, given the dominance mobile devices have in everyday life, waiting room/exam room advertising saves the consumer that extra step of having to search for information about their condition and the various treatment options available. All the information they need and want is right there in front of them, in a trusted environment. Being exposed to advertisements and messages at various touchpoints is part of the patient journey, but it is the time spent in the doctor’s office that serves as a reminder to the patient to ultimately guide them to make an informed decision.

One trend that may throw a wrench in the growth of POC marketing is virtual care. A virtual patient “visiting” with their doctor never visits the doctor’s office and cuts the window of opportunity to message the patient to just before that interaction. This will force brands to proactively anticipate when a patient will interact with their doctor and determine their stage in the patient journey ahead of time.

All in all, POC marketing is a critical channel for health marketers, who should understand that POC has changed in both role and importance as it shifts to adapt to patient-centric understanding of healthcare.