Point-of-care group rolls out guidelines

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As the point-of-care channel continues to receive heightened investment from healthcare marketers, those marketers have — quite understandably — started to ask for more in the way of accountability and transparency.

To that end, the Point of Care Communication Council (PoC3) has unveiled guidelines around reach verification and the standardization of performance metrics.

The goal, according to PoC3 board co-chairs Mike Collette (founder and CEO of PatientPoint) and Nanette Oddo (VP of patient engagement at Phreesia), is to further cement point of care as a mainstream media channel.

See also: Infographic: What's next for the point of care market

“You've seen it with digital and social media and other media forms — at some point there's that move from testing/learning and experimentation/innovation to a more mainstream place,” Collette said. “To give advertisers what they need to have confidence [in the channel], you have to have those audit and proof-of-performance metrics.”

The $23 billion point-of-care market is growing and expected to hit $40.5 billion by 2022, according to Zion Market Research. In March Outcome Health, a point-of-care platform, raised $500 million in its first-ever financing round.

The new guidelines, described by PoC3 executive director Christine Franklin as “a framework that's not so rigid or moment-in-time,” include the development of auditing standards, updated ethical standards, and a comprehensive FAQs document for would-be buyers of point-of-care media. They were developed over the course of the last eight months by the PoC3's verification and validation standards committee, with input from pharma companies, agencies, and consultants.

See also: Physicians still rely on medical journals but turn to the web when they have only 10 minutes

The development of industry-accepted auditing and measurement standards seem most crucial, especially as point of care continues its rise up the media pecking order. The audits, to be completed by approved third-party firms, will require that PoC3 member companies hit certain marks around network definition and validation as well as meet minimum standard metrics for performance.

Not all of the guidelines are freshly minted. For instance, PoC3 has required members to adhere to ethical standards since its inception. But as offerings for physician's offices have increased in sophistication — think fewer pamphlets and more digital wallboards — it makes all the sense in the world for the providers of these offerings to more attentively self-police. There's more at stake than there was, say, five years ago.

“It's a natural evolution, with a little bit of common sense thrown in,” Oddo said. “The industry clearly sees the value in [the point-of-care channel], so it's our role to continue to build the space and provide support where it's needed… It's really kind of a segue as [the channel] continues to grow and generate all this interest.”

Franklin agreed, adding, “We want to give the industry even more confidence. We want to make sure there's more efficiency and more transparency.”

Among PoC3 member companies and their marketing partners, the unveiling of the standards were met with the expected enthusiasm. “Everybody agreed that if we're going to grow the industry and increase its share of media spend, we absolutely had to do this. It was the prudent thing to do,” Collette noted.

See also: Outcome Health raises $500 million in financing round

At the same time, the process wasn't as simple as formally codifying existing best practices, Franklin said. The point-of-care market “is much more complex than it was even a few years back and new tactics are popping up all the time,” she explained. “That said, it's a good problem to have. And again, it's not like anything is set in stone. These [guidelines] are designed as more of a framework than as the final word on the matter.”

That's important to keep in mind as the PoC3 continues to bring discipline and consistency to a channel that was once perceived as scattershot.

“Whenever you do something for the first time, there's an expectation that there's going to be some tweaks,” Collette said. “After we go through the performance metrics and the first round of third-party audits, we'll get feedback from our members and partners, then adjust accordingly. Nobody's expecting that it's going to be perfect right away.”

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