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
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
(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.
Lesson #3: Adapting requires outsourcing
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.