“Advertising at the point of care is powerful,” says Matt Arnold, Principal Analyst, Decision Resources Group (DRG). “Two in five U.S. adults recall seeing ads at the point of care, with 27% remembering seeing promotion on a TV at the doctor’s office or hospital, and 12% on a digital device.”

And not only do adults recall these ads, but the vast majority actually appreciate them.

“Data supports that 68% of adults value the information they’re exposed to at the physician’s office,” explains Leana Wood, Managing Director, EVERSANA. “And patients who have seen advertising at the physician’s office are 84% more likely to discuss this content with their physicians, 77% more likely to discuss it with a friend or relative, and 68% more likely to ask a doctor to prescribe a specific product. It’s a bright and growing future for point of care marketing.”

While the future for point of care marketing looks bright now, it wasn’t long ago when a dark cloud of mistrust was cast over the industry when in 2017, it was revealed Outcome Health mislead clients by billing them for ads that never ran. In October 2019, the company, now under new leadership, agreed to a $70 million settlement with the Department of Justice and entered a non-prosecution agreement to end a related criminal probe. And just as Outcome Health has worked to restore its reputation, so has the point of care industry as a whole.

To help regain marketers’ trust, the Point of Care Communication Council (PoC3), a nonprofit organization, released its official Verification and Validation Guidance in October 2019. This guidance includes best practices for the industry to follow along with an associated PoC3 Compliance Certification process which allows agencies to see if a point of care media vendor is compliant with the auditing requirements outlined in the guidance. Companies who complete the process on an annual basis get the PoC3 Certification Seal, which confirms that the vendor along with a third-party auditor have submitted signed affidavits verifying they have completed all audit requirements for their product offerings at both network and campaign levels.

“Marketers are demanding greater transparency in point of care and third-party audits give advertisers greater assurance that their campaign data is accurate,” explains George Bartman, Senior Vice President of Sales, Alliance for Audited Media. “Media providers who commit to audits are strengthening relationships with their clients by demonstrating that they are doing everything possible to provide reliable metrics. And as media providers create more ways for marketers to reach patients and physicians, audit processes will need to continue to adapt to meet the needs of new technology. But the underlying purpose for third-party audits will remain the same. With verification and transparency, it is possible to transact with trust in any media channel.”

The Expansion of Point of Care

Besides the growing importance of auditing, the point of care industry is transforming in another important way—it is no longer limited to the physician’s office. Care is increasingly being delivered where the patient needs it. One example: The school nurse’s office.

“Increasing numbers of school systems are launching school-based telehealth programs, enabling school nurses to tap physicians at a distance vs. parents having to pick up their kids and take them to the doctor,” says Beatriz Mallory, SVP, Managing Director, SensisHealth. “Children’s Health Medical Center in Dallas uses telehealth systems to connect kids to pediatricians for diagnoses and to send prescriptions to pharmacies. As a result, 57% of the patients they see are able to stay onsite—and in class.”

Retail pharmacies are another example that Mallory highlights. In 2018, 32.2% of adults received their flu shots at the pharmacy counter and now more companies are competing for space on the pharmacy counter. For instance, Babson Diagnostics intends to place their pinprick capillary blood draw device—which they claim can provide accurate diagnostic results from small, high-quality capillary samples—on that same pharmacy counter.

Patients are even receiving more care within their homes. The proliferation of biologics coming to market has made home infusion more common; however, CMS is making changes to how home infusion is reimbursed.

“Until now, home infusion has typically been coordinated by pharmacists—including designing the therapy, assessing the patient, monitoring for adverse drug reactions, coordinating care, and recommending modifications to the plan of care,” Mallory explains. “But in July 2019, CMS released a new proposed reimbursement rule, CY 2020 Home Health Prospective Payment System Rate Update, in which CMS will reimburse home infusion services only on days when a nurse is present in the patient’s home. In the absence of reimbursement for home infusion services, pharma marketers will need to fill the information gaps a pharmacist may no longer provide.”

Technology’s Other Impact

Advancements in technology are also changing how information is delivered at the point of care—wherever that may be.

“Kiosks, digital displays, handheld tablets, and AR/VR apps are technologies that many brands gravitate to when trying to impact patient and physician conversations,” says Loriann Murray, Chief Strategy Officer, Axon Communications, Inc. “Some do a great job of providing disease state education, or drug awareness, while others miss the mark by being too complex or too generic to have much of an impact.”

One area ripe with opportunity—the patient’s smartphone. According to DRG data, 8% of U.S. patients search for health and treatment info online at the doctor’s office or hospital, and 26% of those doing online research at hospitals say virtual assistants are influential in their treatment decisions.

“The point of care is fragmenting,” notes Arnold, “but the increased sophistication of geotargeting and mainstream adoption of voice search means that mobile devices are likely to become a more important venue for point of care promotion in the near future.”

But Murray is quick to note that marketers must remember that technology is just a vehicle and any strategies using technology should support personalized conversations and enhance the physician-patient relationship.

“We know that patients trust their physician for healthcare information much more than the pharmaceutical industry,” Murray says. “So, developing programs that help healthcare providers better educate their patients while in the office and in their home prove invaluable to all stakeholders, even the pharmaceutical industry. Patients want educational tools from their doctor that reinforce their in-office conversations and expand upon them, while allowing them to review, digest, and utilize them when and where they want. In essence, the future of point of care is actually supporting what has always worked in its past.”


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