As Covid-19 ran its course through America, outpatient medicine followed a yo-yo trajectory.
First, as expected, patient visits to doctors dropped off dramatically. Then, over the course of a few months, remote medical appointments grew in popularity to fill the gap. During all this time, the number of prescriptions filled held steady.
It was, in other words, about the exact expected response to an utterly unexpected event. Nobody could have predicted the coronavirus. We could have predicted most of what happened next.
Which makes it all the more surprising that so many pharma brands have been caught flat-footed by the meteoric rise of telemedicine. There's a belief among some pharma marketers that if we refuse to change with the times, the times won't change — if we pretend that telemedicine patient journeys are exactly the same as in-person care, we can make that true.
Yet the times, they are a-changing. In this post, we'll share a few key lessons Watson Clark has learned about adapting to a telemedicine world.
Lesson #1: Telemedicine is not going away
Much like with telecommuting, the infrastructure and use cases for telemedicine were present — and growing — before Covid.
Consider that not all patients have access to reliable transportation. Some live an hour or more by car from the nearest hospital or medical practice. If the patient is immunocompromised, visiting a hospital is an unacceptable risk.
The rise of telemedicine is a godsend for patients in these categories. Since pharma marketing is about meeting patients where they are, the best strategies understand that not all patients will want to abandon telemedicine as soon as it's safe to be around people again.
Lesson #2: Understand the potential of telehealth
With Medicare catching up to the era of long-distance medicine, HCPs have an incentive to experiment with how far telemedicine and telehealth can go.
(A quick primer: telemedicine refers to direct patient care, while telehealth is a broader term for the entire healthcare system).
Rather than assuming certain disciplines, such as oncology and cardiology, could never go remote, marketing campaigns should imagine the possibility that they could. Marketers not only have the power to imagine where healthcare could go next — they also have a duty to explain that future to HCPs and their patients.
Video ads are widely used online, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. For example, consider building an ad campaign around animated GIFs, which are cheaper and lower-impact for the customer. Interactivity is the newest trend, getting users invested in their own ad experiences.
Lesson #3: Adapting requires outsourcing
The most reliable way to ensure your telehealth marketing campaign understands the needs and obstacles your patients face is to work with people who already have that knowledge. Working with a qualified marketing agency can help guide your brands toward an emphasis on remote care options.
The best healthcare marketing agencies can use data on the habits of patients and HCPs to make telemedicine campaigns appealing to specific individuals. When you're ready to learn more about how, get in touch with a Watson Clark representative.