According to Quest Diagnostics, more than one out of three employees who took employer-sponsored lab-based wellness tests were found to be at high risk for high cholesterol, kidney disease or diabetes, and it was news to them. How can it be news for them when so many people are going online for health information today? Because the industry has not done a good job of warning people about how their lifestyles can affect wellness.

Full-time U.S. workers who have chronic health troubles or are overweight cost more than $153 billion in lost productivity each year from absenteeism, according to a Gallup-Healthways study. Compared with non-overweight healthy workers, the 86 percent of U.S. workers who have weight or health issues (and often both) miss an estimated 450 million extra days of work a year, the study said. This represents an opportunity for DTC marketers.

People tend to go online for health information when driven by certain triggers, like having a family member diagnosed with a health problem. Of course, the issue with this after-the-fact action is that today we have to be more proactive about health, so we can address potential health problems before they require medical intervention. This means that the healthcare industry has to do a better job in educating people on prevention and wellness.

Most DTC marketing right now focuses on branded advertising, but we have to do a better job in reaching consumers before they become patients. People may ask, “Why would we want to prevent someone from using our product?” But if the drug industry is going to win back the hearts and minds of consumers, they have to be willing to acknowledge that prevention is just as important as treatment.

I really believe that the drug industry should partner with insurers, the AMA, and employers to bring wellness information to employees every day at work. They also need to do a better job of informing people that some health conditions, like diabetes, are not only preventable but also are deadly serious, and not just something you can take a pill or injection to treat.

Websites should do more to focus on how to live with health conditions with an end result of better patient outcomes, with or without medications. They should show real world examples of people who have managed to beat health problems through changes in behavior and lifestyle. This is especially true today when people want a better quality of life.

We need to reach out to people before they become customers and let them know that they could be in for a wake-up call if they don’t take their health more seriously. Content is king…and content can lead. Great content can form a great brand relationship with consumers, right now.

  • Richard Meyer

    Richard Meyer has worked in healthcare marketing for more than 12 years and is the author of www.worldof and www.newmediaand He is the Director of Online Strategic Solutions.


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