Point-of-care marketing is being talked about more than ever before, which is certainly music to my ears. After spending nearly 30 years advocating for the intrinsic value of delivering brand messaging to the right audience at the perfect aperture point, I’m pleased to see healthcare and media industries embracing the opportunities that abound in physician office engagement solutions.

Point of care has been around for more than three decades, yet I feel like in a way we’re just getting started when it comes to the channel’s potential. Pandemic-fueled dynamics including healthcare consumerism and declining rep access present new challenges for brand marketers to impact patients and physicians across the entire care continuum. These same market dynamics are driving rapid, meaningful innovations in point of care.

It’s such an exciting time for the channel. Here are some key areas to watch.

Area to Watch: Wait-Time Experience

The waiting room remains a highly relevant, evolving care touchpoint. Are patients still waiting in the physician office? The answer is a resounding YES. The waiting room experience remains a crucial touchpoint for brands to pull through their messaging and reach patients right before they talk to their doctor.

Latest findings show patients still wait an average of 12 minutes before being taken to the exam room and only 3% spend no time waiting.1 To accommodate this shorter wait time, health-focused programming shown on digital screens in the waiting room is being reimagined to ensure brand messaging still drives maximum engagement.

One such strategy involves a multi-zone vs. full-frame approach to content. By featuring multiple content feeds—think custom messages from the provider; specialty-specific and award-winning education and health and wellness content; and limited, category-exclusive brand messaging—digital waiting room screens are being further transformed into a personalized practice communication platform. Additional dynamic content such as local weather feeds, quizzes, and recipes help further position digital screens as patients’ “must-see” content source during their wait.

To further increase engagement, QR codes on screens, treatment guides, and posters in the waiting room enable patients to more actively engage with content on their smartphones or access a digital version of print content. Let’s allow patients to access consumer information on the device of their choice!

Area to Watch: Exam Room Integrations

The exam room represents that magic moment for brands to impact treatment decisions, making it an ever-coveted space for pharmaceutical marketers. It’s the equivalent of the store shelf for CPG brands. Exam room touchscreens are seeing a host of new integrations to further enhance the important discussions patients and providers are having in this pivotal space. One potential integration is the capability to view personalized patient medical imaging directly on the screen. This avoids the need for a separate “viewing device” and instead allows for an instant transition to explaining imaging and educating the patient. This seamless, HIPAA-compliant workflow integration can empower patients with a better understanding of their diagnosis and help providers improve patient outcomes.

Strategic content integrations represent another incredible area of opportunity for exam room touchscreen devices. Through partnerships with precision patient information services such as PrecisCa (Precisca.com), exam room touchscreens can bring on-demand content from the world’s foremost clinical experts in a given specialty to patients. Think about the opportunities this could bring to a specialty like cancer.

Oncologists have shared that the majority of patients receiving a cancer diagnosis will seek out a second opinion (understandably so) and, due to emotional processing, the patient often opts for the second physician. A service like PrecisCa, however, can bring those second opinions right into the exam room via the touchscreen. By showing a patient a supporting opinion in the office of their own provider, exam room technology can both increase patient comprehension and help with patient retention.

Exam room video consults from touchscreen devices present another exciting integration opportunity. Early in the pandemic we saw strict visitor restrictions in physician practices, fueling the need for technology to bring care partners into exam room conversations. Through secure exam room video conferencing, providers can utilize a live video conference call to include other integral players on a patient’s healthcare team such as other providers, specialists, or even financial advisors. ​

Area to Watch: Patient Reviews and Retention

Today’s consumer won’t go to a new restaurant without scouring Yelp reviews, and they’re increasingly approaching their healthcare the same way. In fact, approximately 90% of patients use reviews to evaluate physicians and more than 70% of patients use reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor.2

In this review-centric world in which today’s digitally savvy patients have many choices, point of care is becoming another channel to help providers reinforce and drive their positive reputation. Whether it’s during scheduling or check-in or promoted through digital signage or post-appointment surveys, reminders via point-of-care technology can encourage a captive patient audience to leave a positive review.

Point of care is also being leveraged to encourage healthy competition among healthcare providers. By displaying provider reviews on back-office communication screens, a care team can be naturally incented to provide better care to elicit more positive patient reviews—a win-win for everyone.

There is nothing more personal and important to patients than their health—and no place more relevant and impactful to reach them than the doctor’s office. While healthcare is changing rapidly, the doctor’s office remains the epicenter of the patient journey. As point of care remains vital to providers with innovation around unmet needs, the channel will continue to offer nuanced solutions to enable deeper connections. New technologies within the channel will further enable brands to reach narrowly targeted patients with specific conditions with tailored messaging across the entire path to treatment. Brand investment in point of care is a must-have in order for brands to stay relevant with patients and providers today.

Legendary management consultant, educator, and author Peter Drucker famously said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. As a 30-year advocate and leader in the point-of-care channel, I’m so excited about the work being done in the industry to predict trends, seize opportunity, and bring concepts to life—all for the benefit of patients and providers.

References:

1. 2021 Nationwide Web Surveys of 2,190 respondents who visited physician offices installed with the PatientPoint Communicate, Educate, and/or Interact Programs. Data as of 8/25/21.

2. Software Advice Master Patient Experience Survey 2020.

  • Linda Ruschau

    Linda Ruschau is Chief Client Officer at PatientPoint where she leads a national sales, marketing, and client service team that helps brands impact patient-physician dialogue and drive patient engagement at the point of care. As a 30-year advocate and recognized thought leader for point of care, Linda regularly shares her insights in industry publications and as a prominent speaker at events such as DTC National and Digital Pharma East.

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