The Point of Care Communication Council (PoC3) is heading into the year’s stretch run with a flurry of activity, approving its first-ever strategic plan and adding two new member companies.

The moves come in the extended wake of the COVID-19 shutdown, which had a galvanizing effect on the point-of-care channel. While some pundits expected channel spend to sag amid presumably limited access to in-person care, the volume of office closings was lower than anticipated.

In fact, one might argue that concerns about traffic at the physical point of care (read: physician’s offices) birthed one of the channel’s great periods of innovation. Any number of companies used the pandemic downtime to hone their telehealth operations, allowing marketers to share educational materials or promotional messaging prior to the start of virtual visits.

Meanwhile, data shared by PoC3 suggest that physician visits weren’t so much ignored as delayed and that the sharp drop-off in primary-care visits during the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021 was due in large part to a mild cold-and-flu season. Physician visits for chronic conditions, according to PoC3, remained more or less constant during that same time span.

Along those same lines, Divinagracia points to data revealing that 97% of patients spent at least some time in the waiting room during their most recent visit. And now that it’s established that COVID-19 rarely spreads via surfaces, offices have started displaying educational and promotional materials once anew.

As a result, the channel is set to exit 2021 on a high note. “Companies are excited to get back into the point-of-care space or get into it deeper,” said PoC3 executive director Nicole Divinagracia, who joined the advocacy organization from Havas Media Group in June. “With things going back to quote-unquote normal, people are excited.”

It was in this context that Divinagracia sat down with non-member organizations to collect insight that would ultimately inform the strategic plan.

PoC3 executive director Nicole Divinagracia.

“There were things we already knew, like that people who were advocates of the channel were big advocates of the channel and that there were still some concerns in terms of awareness and education,” she said. “Measurement is another one. We recognize that, when compared to other media channels, there are some measurement challenges.”

Dedicated subcommittees and task forces will address the concerns, Divinagracia said. “The enthusiasm that so many people have for point-of-care – we will make that come to life in events and everything we roll out over the next year.”

As for the new members, Divinagracia is thrilled to add Publicis Health Media and out-of-home specialist Rapport to PoC3’s ranks.

“In the past, there weren’t many agencies” affiliated with the organization, Divinagracia noted. “Now we have two of them represented on our board of directors. That goes so far toward making sure we’re representing all voices.”

Beyond the strategic plan and membership additions, PoC3 has scheduled a full slate of activities for the months ahead. The organization plans to host a virtual event on January 12 and an in-person one on March 10, though it hasn’t yet revealed agendas or speakers.

PoC3 will also give itself a face lift, courtesy of a redesigned logo and website. The site will more prominently showcase the group’s PoC3 Academy educational content and add a members-only section featuring research and resources.

“We heard it loud and clear that the site should be more functional,” Divinagracia said. “When it’s done, it’ll be the central hub for information. It will be a major source of truth for point of care.”