DTC in Perspective: A Growing Opportunity for Patient Engagement
With rising DTC expenditures it is clear all media segments have new opportunities for a piece of a larger pie. I have always been media agnostic in my job as advisor, publisher, conference organizer and writer of DTC columns. I know all media has its place in the marketing plan. Traditional media such as television, magazines, radio, and newspapers are still critical to drug advertising success.
One area, though, seems to be on the verge of exploding in use and should fuel growth in DTC spending. That area is reaching the consumer through their physician’s office, pharmacy, clinic, hospital, or remotely through smart phones or customized health tracking devices.
Most consumers think most about their drug when it is being prescribed, filled, or first used. Engaging patients through education at all of these points is critical for success. Engagement is changing beyond just awareness advertising at these points. While awareness advertising in physician offices or pharmacies is critical, new technologies are allowing more more robust interactions between physician, pharmacist and patient.
Drug companies are working to understand how technology can be used to help doctors and pharmacists educate patients. Of course drug companies are most interested in those professionals writing more of their drug. The two biggest technologies that will affect drug company marketing are electronic health records (EHR) and mobile device health apps.
While EHR is being rapidly expanded and not yet widely used as an advertising medium, over time drug companies will see major opportunities to partner with EHR companies. Doctors want to provide clear, concise benefit and risk information to their patients. Piggybacking on the EHR system with good drug information will be key in the future. Doctors will be using push newsletters, emails, texts, robo-calls more in the future. Drug companies will be involved in underwriting these efforts especially as it relates to persistency.
Mobile consultation and diagnosis through wearable trackers will be common place in the near future. People with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, and other illnesses can be monitored real time by their health providers. Imagine the possibilities for drug company partnerships in helping doctors monitor patients. Ensuring proper adherence to a prescribed medication is good for the provider, patient, and drug maker.
There is still enormous potential for growth in awareness advertising at traditional point of care locations. More offices are joining these networks and more exam and waiting rooms are being added. I expect more consolidation between media suppliers so they have a broader reach. Drug marketers and their agencies want the ability to reach desired specialties without dealing with fragmented buying. The growth of retail medicine through mini clinics is also offering new locations for patient education media.
From what I hear from the media companies in the point of care space sales are doing very well. What these media companies need to do is make it easier for drug marketers to buy in scale, track ROI, and learn how to work in concert with the providers to engage patients beyond awareness advertising.