Reaching Patients at the Point of Care

Physician exam and waiting rooms provide a natural setting to deliver important health messages to patients. So it’s not surprising that pharma, health and wellness companies are increasingly capitalizing on point of care (POC) strategies to reach target patients and physicians in an effective and efficient manner. A recent study by ZS Associates, “Right Place, Right Time” (, estimates that consumer-focused POC marketing investment has grown 10% annually since 2010—nearly eight times the growth of direct-to-consumer marketing spending overall—rising to $400 million in 2014.

Why POC is Essential

Shifts in the media marketplace away from traditional print and broadcast advertising, the powerful targeting capabilities of “Big Data” tools, and the growth of patient engagement platforms in physician offices are three reasons why POC is becoming essential in today’s marketing mix.

With their ability to hyper-target patients, POC strategies are well aligned with the needs of companies offering highly specific therapies and support medication adherence messaging. Information about a new drug for rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, can be provided to rheumatology practices through electronic tablets, print brochures and magazines or programming shown on digital screens in the waiting areas or exam rooms. This versatile POC approach gives brands multiple opportunities to educate patients about their medical conditions, inform them about their treatment options, and urge them to talk with their physicians. It also overcomes the challenge facing sales forces: Difficulty reaching “no see” or “low see” doctors.

A carefully targeted POC approach has other advantages over a mass-market TV strategy designed to increase awareness and drive patients to a website for more information. After all, patients are most receptive to medical, health and wellness messaging when they are at a physician’s office, pharmacy, clinic or hospital because they are focused on their health. In that regard, POC strategies can complement and amplify investments in traditional media, particularly messaging during the patient’s “last mile” before engaging with the physician.

Increasing Awareness and Engagement

A healthy breakfast food brand wanted to gain exposure for a line-extension product, while validating its own health claims. After implementing a POC campaign that focused on the product’s health benefits and encouraged patients to request a sample, the brand achieved a 26% increase in awareness and a 36% increase in those likely to talk to their doctor about the sponsor. Even more importantly, 94% of primary care physicians recommended the product after they received samples.

However, it’s important to remember that there is no “one size fits all” recipe for POC success. Brands need to consider the patient experience throughout the care continuum and look for the most effective touch points, and content must be created for the various channels to motivate target patients. Finally, the POC program should be tracked to measure sales outcomes and return on investment.

Moving forward, POC strategies will play an even bigger role in the marketing mix as brands increasingly recognize the value of educating and activating patients in the physician’s office, hospital or pharmacy.

  • Tom McGuinness

    Tom McGuinness is CEO of PatientPoint. Tom’s 20 years of healthcare and technology experience and expertise includes the areas of strategy, growth, marketing and sales spanning provider, payer, pharmaceutical, medical technology and clinical research verticals.


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