DTC in Perspective: Point of Care (POC) Marketing Challenges


I see doctors more than I used to due to my advancing age. That gives me a chance to see more point of care marketing as I go to my many specialists for a variety of ailments. I often wonder how much patients are receptive to being educated while in the waiting room or in the exam area. Most doctors’ offices are a media smorgasbord of general interest magazines, health pamphlets, TV’s playing news or promotion for products physicians sell.

Bob Ehrlich
“Clutter is a significant barrier for POC media companies…”
-Bob Ehrlich

Clutter is a significant barrier for POC media companies trying to prove to drug makers an acceptable ROI for their products and services. Patients also have their own entertainment system with their mobile devices and the growth of in office Wi-Fi makes them a viable entertainment option in waiting rooms. The challenge for POC companies providing information on disease or branded products is how to get their share of attention in that valuable 10-20 minute waiting period.

The days of just providing and expecting positive results from general disease information through a video, wallboard, or publication could be numbered. More needs to be done to grab attention given the numerous media alternatives available. That means POC companies are going to have to invest more in researching how patients actually behave in the waiting room. That is, what draws them to put down their mobile device and watch a POC video, interact with a tablet, or read a wallboard or custom health magazine. As patient choices expand, drug companies are going to expect some sophisticated analysis of patient in office viewing habits.

POC generally has reported higher ROI than mass media. The POC media companies are going to have to work hard to keep that advantage. It is clear that every drug company is looking to take full advantage of the marketing opportunity at POC. That physician office is the pivotal point in generating an Rx. Every drug maker wants to maximize that pre-exam time frame with disease and/or branded information.

We are seeing consolidation of POC companies through acquisitions. Having fewer and larger players with deeper pockets makes it more likely we will see new patient behavioral research. I would expect, as a drug marketer, to have the POC media companies do lots of testing on how to generate patient attention. Their technologies now allow for streaming in a highly targeted manner. That could mean different messaging down to a local physician level taking into account patient demographics. Drug makers are going to expect POC media companies to increasingly present innovative ways to get patients to pay attention in an increasingly cluttered waiting room.

I was in my ophthalmologist’s office this week and was entertained by a POC module from Outcome Health, formerly ContextMedia:Health. They had a reporter on the street interviewing people with trivia questions on eye issues such as incidence of eyeglass use and contacts. I noted everyone in the waiting room was watching as it was a different and attention grabbing way to educate patients. We all had our mobile devices in our hands but took a break to see the answers to the trivia.

What I have noticed through my many physician visits is that there is still massive opportunity to bring media innovation to the waiting and exam rooms. There are a number of great companies in this space and continuing consolidation will bring more consistency to what patients see. Drug makers will welcome being able to expand POC use with larger media companies controlling more offices. That consolidation may make it harder, however, for start-ups to compete but hopefully we can still have opportunities for the small entrepreneurs. After all, the current POC giants all started relatively recently as small businesses with a new way to educate patients.


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