At the recent MM&M Media Summit, Outcome Health sponsored a panel discussion focused on how the point of care marketing channel has evolved during the pandemic. Outcome Health’s CEO Matt McNally was joined by Mesmerize’s Director of Business Development Samantha Brown, and OptimizeRx’s SVP & Principal Angelo Campano. We followed up with them a few weeks later to dive deeper into the future of point of care marketing as we head into 2021.  

Please share an overview of how to best leverage point of care (POC) as a vehicle and marketing channel at this point in time. 

Matt McNally: The POC is one of the most sacred spaces for a patient and a provider, but there are more places where that exchange between a healthcare professional (HCP) and patient is happening – EMRs, patient portals, telehealth, and more. It’s why we encourage and challenge the POC space to think differently about the POC, and to realize it’s more about supporting Moments of Care™ and delivering relevant content that supports that exchange between patient and HCP.

Samantha Brown: Advertising at the point of care is critical for reaching patients on their patient journey. It’s important for marketers to acknowledge that the patient journey may look a little different as a result of COVID-19. We’re seeing patient journey trends vary by patient demographics, including age, chronic condition, or even geography based on states’ COVID-19 status and reopening phase. It’s important that marketers identify and understand these trends to make sure that their brand is present at the various points of care their target patients are utilizing/visiting, supporting the patient on that journey while simultaneously reinforcing their brand’s messaging on the path to purchase.

Angelo Campano: For a physician, open conversation is vital to understanding patient needs, providing services, and offering recommendations that solidify trust and confidence. Marketers often rely exclusively on one-way communication channels like display advertisements. For some, learning the deep understanding of how to deliver a message in the EHR is something that successful marketers have begun to leverage, looking towards the EHR as the start of a conversation to deeply engage the physician, while with the most appropriate patient with information that truly helps improve loyalty and increase product satisfaction.

Where does telemedicine/virtual care best support brands in their lifecycle? 

MM: We all saw the surge in telemedicine use at the start of the pandemic. While we believe that telemedicine is here to stay, and will probably see continued use among certain specialties, the data shows that telemedicine is primarily used for existing patients who need to check in with their HCP (eg, potentially to refill a prescription) but also may be more heavily used in the primary care setting.

SB: We’re finding that telehealth by no means replaces in-office visits and face-to-face patient/provider interactions, but instead serves as a compliment to traditional point of care, mostly driven by convenience. Examples include follow-up visits, specialist visits for patients who don’t necessarily have access to a specialist within close proximity, and mental health visits. Telehealth provides a good opportunity for marketers to re-target patients that were previously exposed to their brand’s messaging at the doctor’s office or pharmacy.

AC: While the concept of virtual visits has been around for decades and telemedicine capabilities are not new, 2020 saw a radical jump in telehealth’s role in healthcare. HCPs were faced with the challenge of quickly pivoting from in-office patient visits and traditional educational forums to a relatively new and uncharted virtual health ecosphere. 

Are you seeing any trends with telehealth usage that can help inform brand marketing and channel mix?

MM: The initial trends that we have seen show that telehealth is more heavily used in primary care settings, and also with existing patients. The latter makes sense: for complicated conditions, like cancer, you need to see your HCPs in order for them to get bloodwork done, or CT scans, or receive an infusion etc – for which telehealth cannot suffice. 

That said, we also know that there are thousands of telehealth providers, and even then many HCPs use multiple telehealth providers because the guidelines around use of these platforms was loosened once the pandemic settled in. It seems that pharma marketers will still likely struggle to reach significant scale when using telehealth as a marketing tool.

AC: The list of challenges and uncertainties may seem endless, but people have a proven, innate ability to adapt to their ever-changing environment. And telehealth is here to support all of us through this massive shift in the way HCPs and patients interact. Technologies that support telemedicine can range from video conferencing platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime, to mobile apps that allow doctors to send prescriptions directly to the pharmacy. Then there are remote monitoring systems that offer patients the ability to perform simple tasks like checking blood pressure as well as more complex undertakings like being able to take an ultrasound picture.

What are one or two trends or opportunities for point of care in 2021?

MM: A return to personal connection will be at the forefront of healthcare. As a result of the isolation caused by the pandemic and because of some of the darker corners of our history, including the Tuskegee experiments, personal connection and the ability to relate to each other in meaningful ways will become a different-and yet predominant-kind of currency in our health systems. The need to feel like your provider understands you or has an empathic bedside manner; or the ability to have your provider relate to you in a way that meets your emotional needs for connection – even over a telehealth call – will surge. 

People’s ability to trust an HCP will in part be shaped by how well their friends and family know that HCP and how well that HCP is able to address the whole person, including their potential needs for connection. Like many other universal themes that have seen a grassroots push, personal connection as a form of healthcare currency will also begin to see the same grassroots energy.

SB: We’re seeing the pharmacist, especially, playing an increasingly important role in the POC landscape – not only are they testing for COVID-19 & expected to be the first in-line to administer the COVID-19 vaccine once available, but they are also able to administer a number of other vaccines and immunizations to protect against HPV, Hepatitis, flu, and more.  The pharmacy offers healthcare marketers a valuable opportunity to raise brand awareness at arguably the most frequented point of care.  Marketers should be aware of what pharmacists are able to dispense without a physician’s prescription and tailor their brand’s messaging to initiate the patient-pharmacist discussion specifically.

AC: HUB patient service programs that are integrated into the EHR are one way for manufacturers to take advantage of a dedicated, single point of contact. These programs allow patients and healthcare professionals to coordinate benefits, as well as provide drug education, administration, and ongoing support. Efficient physician interaction with HUB services in the EHR can provide comprehensive benefit verification, pre-certification and prior authorization support, and link patients and physicians using a common web portal — where the patient can view available cost-sharing assistance funds and easily submit required documentation. 

Outcome Health is the healthcare innovation company reinventing Point of Care to facilitate better outcomes for patients, their loved ones and healthcare professionals.

Mesmerize is a prominent out-of-home media company specializing in patient education at the point of care. 

OptimizeRx is a digital communication platform focused on medication affordability and adherence.

 

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