Ad Technology

The Evolution of Point-of-Care Marketing

By: Lynnsey Rijos

There is no question that the patient journey has evolved over time. There are more steps involved, from the time symptoms occur to the time when you visit a doctor. With numerous health websites, people are more inclined to first research their symptoms and then diagnose themselves, or consult a friend or family member. If the standard over-the-counter (OTC) medications or home remedies don’t work, only then will they make the effort to make an appointment with a medical professional. Marketers have the task of intercepting patients at these different, relevant key points throughout the patient journey, including at the point-of-care (POC) with in-office advertising. But has the rapid expansion of urgent care centers thrown a wrench in POC marketing?

While urgent care centers offer the convenience of getting treated for non-life-threatening conditions in a quick fashion – making them more appealing than waiting 2 weeks for your regular physician – they’re unlikely to disrupt the POC industry. It does, however, require Marketers to reevaluate how they apply POC media to their media mix. There are severe health conditions that an urgent care center would not be equipped to treat on a consistent basis, for example: cancer, psoriasis, kidney disease, and more. Which makes it inevitable for applicable pharmaceutical brands to advertise in the waiting and exam rooms of an oncology, dermatology, or nephrology office. It’s when there are treatment solutions available at either an urgent care center or doctor office (e.g. rashes, migraines, and STDs), that the gap to reach a relevant patient becomes wider.

As Urgent Care centers seek Urgent Care Center Accreditation – a process that allows an Urgent Care center to measure the quality of its services against national standards – and more physicians are getting trained and board certified in Urgent Care Medicine, the capabilities and quality of treatment will continue to elevate. This will ultimately influence the demand for primary care physicians and the shift in patients choosing an Urgent Care center over a visit to a doctor’s office.

The growth of Urgent Care centers doesn’t mean a marketer must choose between one or the other to engage with and educate a relevant patient. It just means both environments need to be part of the advertising consideration set, and the messaging would need to be tailored accordingly. Choosing one over the other may limit how many people you manage to reach, but knowing exactly who you’re speaking to, and in which capacity, can only help you target more efficiently, and in the end, spread your advertising message in a broader fashion.