While social distancing is essential, “medical distancing”—staying away from the doctor’s office for fear of contracting COVID-19—is dangerous. Just as phrma.org’s latest campaign strives to remind people that seeking care is not only safe but necessary, we see it as our duty at PatientPoint to provide patients, physician practices, and brands the support they need to ensure effective engagements are still occurring at the point of care.
Our business is driven by a deep understanding of patient and physician behaviors and desires at critical touchpoints in the care journey. We know your business relies on these insights as well. That’s why we are continually talking to our network of physicians, analysts, and industry insiders to secure proprietary data that we can use to provide you with the most up-to-date insights into the pulse of marketplace.
Here are three new insights, according to patient-level claims data and the latest results of ongoing, independent COVID-19 patient surveys.
visits are steadily increasing and now exceeding 2019.
While the impact on patient traffic was significant during the onset of COVID-19 in late March and April, since that time primary care office visits have steadily increased and returned to near normal ranges in June and July.
2. The second
COVID surge is not impacting patient traffic in physician offices.
An additional look at trends across the country, using the same patient-level claims data, uncovers that primary care practices in most states have returned to their pre-COVID patient volumes (despite the second surge).
visits are leveling off.
As more patients return to the doctor’s office, we see the percentage of telehealth visits now comprising approximately 10-11% of all primary care visits (compared to about 25% at the peak of COVID in mid-April). According to our recent consumer surveys, 72% of patients say they prefer in-person appointments.
Through our ongoing data collection, we hope to separate fact from fiction about patient care and COVID-19, and provide an ongoing benchmark of real insights straight from doctors and patients during this unprecedented time. We will continue to apply what we’ve learned to ensure we make every doctor-patient engagement better at all points of care.
One of my favorite things about PatientPoint is that we’re always finding innovative ways to improve patient engagement. Leading the charge on the technology side is David Guthrie, Chief Product Officer at PatientPoint and one of the most interesting and best hires we’ve ever had.
David is dedicated to developing meaningful, technology-enabled solutions designed to make life better. He’s most well-known for co-founding Medcast, the platform that became WebMD—which, like point of care, helps bring doctors and patients together. David later served as an adviser on early-stage life science and technology investments, then followed that with a 14-year stint as Chief Technology Officer for PGi, the world’s largest dedicated provider of collaboration software and services.
David’s amazing career and his work at PatientPoint recently earned him recognition as a 2019 DTC Innovator by DTC Perspectives. On the heels of that prestigious award, I wanted to share his thoughts on the value of patient engagement technology—and what we should keep our eyes on in the near future.
Q: What value does engagement technology bring to the patient experience?
A: To me, it’s education, education, education. Health education helps patients better understand their condition and treatment options, making them more prepared for the overall care management related to their condition. A more educated patient has a healthier outcome and better experience when dealing with healthcare providers.
Q: What opportunities does patient engagement technology provide pharma brands over other advertising channels?
A: The big difference patient engagement solutions offer is interactivity at the point of care. It gives brands a presence in the moment when physicians and patients are making treatment decisions together. You can get some interactivity on the web, but you’re not necessarily present in the doctor’s office, right when those decisions happen.
With a comprehensive engagement platform, brands can take an umbrella approach that puts them in the waiting room, the exam room, the back office, and even beyond the office. We’ve added technologies that allow healthcare providers to send information to patients before they arrive for the visit or after the visit, based on what the provider sees in the EMR. It’s a holistic approach to patient education that’s unique to patient engagement technology versus traditional advertising channels.
Q: What should pharma brands look for in a patient engagement technology partner?
A: Technology is changing rapidly, so pharma brands need to think about how an engagement technology partner is responding to those changes. How interactive are their solutions? Are they utilizing mobile technologies and geolocation? What are they doing as far as integrating with EMRs, with voice technologies, with multiple platforms? You want a patient engagement technology partner that’s innovating in all of those areas. If they’re extending their current offerings into these spaces, that’s a partner you can really grow with.
Q: You have a unique insider view of the medical technology industry. What’s on the horizon for patient engagement technology that you’re eager to explore?
A: I’m interested in solutions that foster more effective communications before and after the doctor visit—education and tools that are tailored specifically to the patient. Today’s engagement technology is at the point of care; I want to get us to the point of patient.
For example, I may be at an oncologist for lymphoma and seeing point-of-care education about all types of cancer, but lymphoma education is all that’s relevant to me. If we take the engagement tools available inside the physician office, extend them out and make them more precise, we can deliver only the information that’s most relevant and valuable to an individual patient.
Q: Last question: What’s the best vacation you’ve ever had?
A: Beaver Creek, Colorado with my family for the summer. Hiking, four-wheeling, horseback riding, rafting, paragliding, zip lining—it’s an outdoor summer paradise. People think of Colorado for skiing or snow sports, but we started going out there in the summer and it became one of our top places. It’s great in winter and spring, but summer in Colorado is just amazing.
I know the pain of losing a loved one to opioid addiction. My family continues to grieve the loss of an incredible young man who, after an awful car accident, began a decade-long battle against addiction to his prescribed painkillers. Three years ago, he lost that battle.
Countless other families have experienced similar losses due to our nationwide opioid crisis. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), more than 130 people die from opioid overdoses every day. It’s a devastating epidemic that impacts people of any age and from all walks of life.
To help combat opioid addiction, PatientPoint® collaborated with Shatterproof – a nonprofit organization focused on ending the stigma of addiction and improving addiction treatment – to create a powerful opioid education program at the point of care. It launched nationwide in October 2017 across the digital PatientPoint engagement platform, reaching an estimated 15 million patients and caregivers each month in waiting rooms, exam rooms, and in the physician back office. The content is designed to increase the awareness of opioid addiction and encourage doctor-patient discussions about other treatment options.
And the best news is, it is working and we are making a difference. An independent analysis by Symphony Health revealed that each of the 20,793 physicians who had the education program in their practices distributed 142 fewer opioid prescriptions over the eight-month study period than closely matched, non-participating physicians. That adds up to nearly 3 million fewer pills prescribed. If that doesn’t prove the effectiveness of messaging to physicians and patients at the point of care, I don’t know what will.
I often talk about the power of messaging at the point of care, but the results of PatientPoint-Shatterproof campaign really drive it home. I encourage you to read the case study for more details about this fantastic campaign and its impact on the fight against opioid addiction. You can find here.
At PatientPoint, we’re always looking for ways to take our approach to messaging patients to the next level. Having heard professional patient advocate Dr. Grace Cordovano speak at several conferences, I knew she could give us valuable insights from inside the care experience.
Grace is an award-winning, board-certified patient advocate (BCPA) who specializes in fostering private, personalized patient advocacy services in the cancer arena. She gained a unique view of the patient journey by working intimately with dozens of cancer patients – including her mother – and by going through the journey herself when she was misdiagnosed with advanced lymphoma. As a result, Grace sees opportunities for brands to improve the care experience for these patients.
Q: You’ve helped many patients through their care journey. What does it take for a patient to complete that journey successfully?
A: Many things are required to be successful as a person living with a diagnosis, and some of them are not clinical. We have to be mindful of things like social determinants of health. When patients go home, do they have food in the refrigerator, transportation, and someone who can help them care for themselves?
And what about coordinating care? That’s a big unmet need people face routinely. People with a chronic, life-altering condition are often distressed and disappointed by how little is done to make sure all information is communicated seamlessly to every essential care person and caregiver.
Q: How can healthcare marketers help in that regard?
A: I would love to see brands provide a tool to guide patients. When someone’s given a life-altering diagnosis, they aren’t given a map or basic list of steps to tell them that when they get home, they need to do A, B, and C. What do I do when I leave that point of care? What do I do when I go home and I have work, family, children, and so many other obligations that don’t stop because I have this diagnosis? Lay it out for me: tell me what I need to do next and what do I do if I get stuck.
Q: What would a guide like that include?
A: Ideally, it would be a digital tool, so when a person leaves the doctor’s office, they have an app that maps exactly what they need to do for next steps. Having a to-do list is not enough because the path is never straight-forward. We need significantly more than just scheduling the next appointment or establishing medication reminders. People need to know how to request their medical records, how to navigate an insurance denial, or what to do when the medication is not covered by their pharmacy. This could be easily crowdsourced, similar to how Waze crowdsources traffic and navigation. Let’s crowdsource and navigate our diagnoses together!
Q: What is a patient story that’s really stuck with you?
A: I collaborated with a woman whose blood work indicated she might have a rare cancer. She met with a surgical oncologist who recommended a Whipple procedure, a surgery that could seriously impact her quality of life. The oncologist shared his medical expertise and his concerns, the patient and I did extensive research and, after months of work, we decided to go ahead with the procedure. Two days before the surgery, the oncologist called the patient and said, “You know, I think you should seek a third opinion.” Everyone relaxed, the patient got another opinion, the surgery was put off and she is now asymptomatic with no signs of any cancer. She’s doing great today because her oncologist was thoughtful and humble enough to get another perspective. The process was a beautiful example of shared decision-making between the patient and the doctor.
I sat down with Charlie Greenberg, a respected healthcare industry veteran and an expert in point-of-care (POC) marketing, to discuss current trends in healthcare marketing. It’s a topic Charlie knows well, having worked for more than 30 years in the industry with giants like Saatchi & Saatchi, Wyeth, and Merck. Charlie currently serves as a media and marketing consultant, so he spends a great deal of time thinking about the ways brands can improve their reach and maximize their return on investment.
Q: How has healthcare marketing changed during your time in the industry?
A: Market research on patient population profiles and their attitudes toward treatment options has become increasingly more sophisticated. We no longer focus only on demographics and affinity interests, but now incorporate attitudes toward treatment options, healthcare status, and relevant multicultural distinctions within an overall target universe.
Paid media in the marketing mix has embraced this more sophisticated market research by employing greater targeted media tactics. This is not only a function of the evolution of digital media but greater opportunities within the point-of-care arena and the availability to refine how mass media can reach a target audience.
Q: What’s the biggest thing healthcare marketers aren’t doing that they should, or that they should be doing more of?
A: Good marketers set themselves apart from the pack when they are willing to make bold decisions and address the marketplace by shaping customer thinking. Adopting a mindset of “test and learn” around how marketing dollars are spent needs to be better embraced. Short-term thinking often leads to stagnation and missed opportunities.
Secondly, marketers should also be investing more in communication which has the goal of building health literacy. This will not only support the ability to shape consumer thinking, but health literacy campaigns have been shown to lift the efforts of branded commercial campaigns when the two messages are running together.
Q: What effect can point of care (POC) have on the overall media plan? What benefits can brand managers and media planners realize from adding this channel to their mix?
A: Adding POC to a plan will increase the ability to laser target reaching prospects and patients. This complements the efforts of other tactics within the plan. Secondly, POC offers a guaranteed ROI, which also enriches the promotional effectiveness of the overall marketing plan.
Q: Why is healthcare personal to you?
A: It is rewarding to be able to feel a sense of achievement from launching that new snack food item on shelf, introducing a new car model or driving purchases of yet another shade of red lipstick. However, healthcare marketing offers a benefit of knowing that you are helping people understand health conditions and offering treatment to increase their quality of life.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a New Yorker?
A: New York City offers real mobility since it is one of few places in America where you have the option to walk to get to your destination rather than being tied to your car.
What’s the best pharma ad you see running on TV right now? I bet you could sing the jingle, but do you remember the specific brand? I’m the odd one that uses my DVR to skip TO the commercials – but you and I are not the average healthcare consumers. That’s why, despite the strength of TV, when it comes to messaging to patients, you have to pull that message through when they are going to be most receptive – in the doctor’s office.
There are a multitude of rationale for your TV-driven media plan to include POC to complement it. Here are a few important points:
Add POC to the mix, and every other channel benefits. Evidence shows POC can help lift the returns of not only TV, but other media in a plan as well. A recent Crossix study found net conversion rates and new patient starts were significantly higher for those multichannel plans that included POC. (For the full data, check out our white paper mentioned at the end of this piece.)
Show patients a deeper side. Beyond traditional TV commercials, POC gives brands the ability to showcase longer, in-depth videos that will resonate with a very specific and sought-after audience. Think testimonials, patient savings, and clinical trial recruitment messages.
Secure more face time with patients and HCPs at the doctor’s office. There is no seasonality when it comes to visiting the doctor; patients will go throughout the entire year. Each $1 million spent on POC affords more months of in-market presence than what it buys in primetime TV.
Target the right patients in the right locations. Reaching the right audiences based on their viewing, reading, listening, or online habits can be a challenge with other media channels. POC enables you to hyper-target to condition and treatment status while individual office level targeting allows for tailored messaging to these specific audiences.
With media planning, an “either/or” mindset isn’t necessary. Tradeoffs don’t necessarily have to mean excluding an entire medium; you can add POC while not compromising the effectiveness of your TV plan. With a long and proven track record of success, POC has the power to maximize the overall effectiveness of your entire multichannel plan. Even if your plan already generates a high return, it’s worth adding POC to realize even higher ROI and incremental revenue.
Pharma’s presence in patient engagement solutions at the physician’s office has often been a hot topic for debate. Are physicians turned off to these products when they see pharma ads? Is there ever a case where pharma ads are acceptable? How do patients feel? You might be surprised…
Obviously, physicians’ opinions play a critical role in how PatientPoint® in-office solutions are developed, as we have to ensure they are actively using our platforms and find them helpful once in market. To find out more, we partnered with the Digital Health Coalition to conduct proprietary research into physicians’ attitudes and behaviors toward patient engagement technology.
The results demonstrate that patient engagement solutions at the point-of-care can provide pharma with an opportunity to drive better physician-patient discussions, insert their brand into those discussions and ultimately help educate on better treatment decisions. This is an unprecedented and unique ability to impact both audiences at that magic moment when treatment decisions are being made.
Physicians are actually excited
So how do physicians feel about having technology in their offices? To borrow from Tim McGraw, “they like it, they love it, they want some more of it.”
In fact, 44% of physicians surveyed said they find new technology that engages patients exciting – and that they use it as much as they can. More than a third feel they need it to remain up-to-date.
Physicians want to be on the cutting edge of healthcare. They value new technology’s role in enhancing the patient experience and providing better information to their patients. The key is not technology just for technology’s sake – it has to help providers be more efficient or provide better care.
But that still leaves the question, “Are physicians comfortable with pharma being present at the point of care?” According to our recent research, the answer is: YES!
When asked if they would be interested in receiving free digital engagement solutions that include highly contextual, tailored content along with pharma-branded advertising, three-quarters of surveyed physicians said they’d welcome it.
Note the emphasis on tailored content. Physicians are consumers as well as healthcare providers. Sticking ads in their office with no real benefit to them won’t sit well. However, when you leverage highly targeted, specialty-specific education, pharma brand messages are not seen as intrusive, but rather part of a personalized information package that helps providers and patients make better treatment decisions.
This is just a snippet of a broader study – and we are happy to share the learnings.
You’re likely in the thick of planning for 2019 (caffeine in hand!). If you’re following in the footsteps of other pharma brands and agencies, there’s a good chance you’re looking to include point-of-care (POC) tactics in your plans: According to Medical Marketing & Media Healthcare Marketers 2017 Trend Report, 36% of pharma brand marketers expect to increase their POC marketing spend this year.
Great stats that show point of care is on the rise! That said, it is still somewhat of a niche channel and can be complex compared to traditional channels. To help further your POC planning efforts, here are some helpful industry resources I recommend:
Why POC: A quick look into the promotional effectiveness POC generates to support your brand.
POC Buyer’s Guide: What standards and questions should you ask in choosing a point of care investment?
Auditing and Verification Standards: As the POC3 Buyer’s Guide advises, brands and agencies need to be fully up-to-date on network verification efforts of their potential POC partner. This is an inside look at what we do at PatientPoint (and I like to think we set the bar high!).
Measurement Glossary: Your cheat sheet for better understanding the terms and research methodologies behind POC measurement approaches.
What are the challenges you see in planning for point of care? One that I see has risen is the need for a common currency: Is it doctors? Locations? Impressions? It’s critical to compare apples to apples when putting that buy in a spreadsheet, as practices are definitely not created equal.
According to the American Medical Association, for the first time in modern U.S. history, less than half of doctors own their own medical practice. Rather, as the New York Times reported, 43% of all HCPs are now employed by top hospital groups and health systems. So a large practice brings much more value to a brand than a 1-2 doctor practice, which would be missed when just counting locations as the sole “currency.” Thus, my vote is for the currency of HCPs! It’s how pharma targets, and it’s how we recruit providers to be a part of our growing network.
At PatientPoint, we have 80 full-time employees working with HCPs/systems across the country and we’re investing $25 million into health systems for greater patient and physician engagement. We’re also committed to growing in other areas where client impact will be the greatest:
Primary care: Expansion to more than 25k high-value primary care HCPs by EOY 2019
Continued growth to deliver unprecedented impact in oncology of nearly 40% of all volume
Launching patient and physician platforms for the neurology specialty in 2019
All of this is being done to ensure you gain the most value out of your POC investments. I want to hear from you – what do you think the common currency should be in measuring POC effectiveness? Let me know at email@example.com or (513) 936-3549.
Confused about point-of-care (POC) validation measures? I’m not surprised. The transparency and accountability of the POC channel remains a hot topic in the media; some are even calling POC one of the most misunderstood media spaces. I understand why, given every point of view seems to report on a different “must-have” approach.
While there is no one right approach to POC validation, the bottom line is clear: It all comes down to trust and delivery. When choosing a POC provider to partner with, you not only have to ask whether you can trust the experience of this provider, but also whether they can substantiate with facts that you are indeed getting what you pay for.
Here’s a brief overview of the checks and balances PatientPoint® uses to guarantee client deliverables and ensure that trust remains at the center of all our client relationships.
Confirming the Reach is Real
There are two key components to reach verification: providing clients with a list of installed locations and healthcare professionals they are being billed for, and confirming that the POC program purchased is physically there and on. Every brand or agency has the right to this vital information.
PatientPoint has selected SK&A (now IQVIA) as its official arbiter for physicians practicing in a given location. SK&A contacts practices a minimum of every six months to refresh its database. PatientPoint also has a direct line of communication with SK&A to reconcile practice and provider data that doesn’t align. This ensures the most accurate and current data is sent to our clients at all times.
While PatientPoint has been doing physical audits for years, we’ve further elevated our standards, having SPAR and PlaceBridge/J. Knipper take our entire list of installed offices and conduct a physical in-person audit across a statistically valid sample. As an additional action step, we also have the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) certify the digital device counts we provide to our client partners.
Digital confirmation of device counts across 100% of our installed offices + physical audit verification = information you can trust.
Delivering the Data Behind Your Digital Ad Play
PatientPoint has invested significant capital into a digital signage platform that enables us to capture and track every client ad played in a physician’s office – even if the content is cached. That’s not an easy feat, and we’re proud of our efforts to ensure this can happen. AAM certifies our digital ad play reports we share with clients, and our platform also supports API integration, allowing access to and integration with third parties designated by our agencies or clients.
Validating Script Volume
PatientPoint pioneered the evaluation of POC using script lift data versus CPMs more than 15 years ago. We meet upfront with client research experts to gain alignment on methodology before executing a campaign study. While Symphony is our primary supplier, we have also worked with IMS and Crossix to evaluate our programs. To avoid any concerns surrounding manipulation of results, Symphony can forward results directly to clients and participate in meetings on results of PatientPoint programs.
Moving the Industry Forward
This is just an overview of the standards PatientPoint has in place to ensure clients’ trust and confidence remain in not only PatientPoint, but the entire POC channel. While news about POC transparency and accountability will continue to surround those companies trying to make up time for breach of trust, PatientPoint will demonstrate and deliver the reach and results we’ve always said we would. There’s a saying that it takes years to build up trust and only one moment to lose it. I’ve never forgotten that, and neither has PatientPoint.
I welcome the opportunity to speak with you personally regarding PatientPoint or all things point of care. Please connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (513) 936-3549.
The theme of this month’s newsletter is consumer trends. Here’s a recent one worth talking about: According to new research, consumer trust in pharma has hit a new low, dropping 13 points from 51% to 38%.
How can an industry that does so much good have such low credibility? Listen to patient testimonials in focus groups and those that are seeking treatment are incredibly appreciative of their prescribed treatment — especially when it allows them to breathe easier, or control their sugar levels, or prevent a heart attack. So why the drop? According to the research, the high cost of healthcare was partly to blame. Most respondents also said they believed pharma companies put profits ahead of patients.
This latter sentiment uncovers a real need for pharma brands to discover new, more personal ways to connect with patients. 68% of consumers said they would trust a pharma company more if it also provided them with information, tools, and support to help them manage their disease.
So let’s give the patients what they want! This doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your current marketing strategy; rather, brands can identify the right engagement opportunities where refined messaging will resonate most with patients — both inside the physician’s office and out. Promote the patient savings programs to make your drug affordable; explain the how and why of how your drug works in easy-to-understand terms (if regulatory will allow you!).
Putting the focus on the patient first, offering information, and resources throughout his or her care journey that helps them better understand their own condition, more effectively talk to their doctor and more easily find and follow the right treatments, is exactly what is needed to start to turn this trend around.
Point-of-care platforms are already providing patients and caregivers with disease-specific education and information in the waiting room, exam room, and beyond. Take advantage of these channels and feature accompanying content to show you empathize with patients and are truly a trusted partner in their care.
While trends are transitory, we can’t afford to ignore these perceptions of our industry. We all know the good work we’re doing to help patients live better, healthier lives. This research, however, should serve as an important reminder that we could be doing even more to show patients that their best interests are truly at the center of everything we do.