Since the first pharma ad, marketers have been focused on a singular destination: the near-illegible handwritten scrawl of their brand name on a prescription pad. The journey to get there can be long and arduous, but it has always peaked at the point-of-care.
However, it has become clear that we must starting climbing even higher. Now, what happens after the prescription is written is just as important as the brand name written on the prescription — for patients, for their physicians, and for pharma companies.
Thus, the point-of-care and the idea of treatment cannot just be defined as the doctor’s office and a prescription pad; it must now be everywhere. To appreciate why, we must examine several seismic forces that are transforming the healthcare landscape.
Force #1: Baby Boomers Are Turning 65.
Every 10 seconds, one of the 75 million Baby Boomers blows out 65 birthday candles. And since age tends to beget health complications, that means our Boomers are becoming an overwhelming subset of every physician’s practice.
Force #2: Boomers Are Sicker than Earlier Generations.
The average Baby Boomer has two chronic diseases and 25% of them have four or five. This leads them to rotate between 14 different physicians and tally up 40 doctor visits a year.
Force #3: To Compensate, Healthcare Reimbursement Is Overhauling Itself.
Medicare will shoulder the cost burden for these 65-and-up patients, so it has made major shifts to a value-based reimbursement model—which compensates based on the effectiveness and efficiency of care instead of fee-for-service. Private insurers are following suit.
Force #4: Choosing the Right Treatment Is Only Half the Battle.
Docs face a list of barriers to achieving effectiveness and efficiency. Atop that list: 66% of patients are not adherent to their treatment plans. This begs the question: What good is a brand’s compelling efficacy data when the treatment never has a chance to actually treat?
Force #5: These Effects Are Crushing HCPs and Health Systems.
Sixty percent of physicians say visits are too short to educate and effectively treat patients, while 70% don’t have a full picture of their patients’ health after the appointment is over. With this lack of control, patients are at risk for not improving, leading to failures that come with reimbursement penalties.
These five forces, left ignored or unaddressed, have the power to collapse the healthcare experience. Patients won’t improve, physicians will cycle through treatments in search of a mythical silver bullet, and brands will never see engagement after that initial script.
To avert these crises, marketers must continue our dedication to informing the decisions made at the POC – but we must also shape and improve what happens beyond it. We must extend the POC to be everywhere by providing a new breed of interconnected services that help doctors and patients stay committed to their agreed-upon treatment plans long after the appointment is over.
Of course, being everywhere (and personalized and interconnected) sounds impossible, expensive, and exhausting. However, one entity holds the power to deliver this omnipresence: electronic health records. While EHRs are not an answer in-and-of itself, their pervasiveness (90% adoption, four hours of use per day), inherent access to patient info, and growing ability to link all health audiences combine for unrivaled potential to deliver solutions that HCPs desperately need.
And the fruit is ripe for picking: 72% of HCPs leave their EHR because the services they need are not provided. Some of the things they’re looking for include personalized, data-driven patient ed, treatment guidelines, savings programs that connect with pharmacy home delivery, and services that keep doctors and patients connected between appointments.
Let’s go deeper with a real example: Brand X is an effective treatment for a chronic condition, but adherence is a problem. Brand X developed an EHR-driven service that communicates with patients via a text/voice interface and prompts them to share updates about compliance and health vitals.
On the physician side, HCPs receive key patient information via the EHR, making the patient’s next visit more informed and productive. The program also identifies the patients who are noncompliant or need further education and/or additional support. This program facilitates personalized, proactive, and omnipresent care—a trifecta that is impossible for today’s physician, but possible with the help of the EHR.
It will only be a matter of time before these services are a crucial part of every marketing plan, as brands are already piloting EHR-driven programs with great success. As with all tipping points, when change happens, it happens fast. The consequences of waiting are the same as being second-to-market. So widen your scope and mark a new destination on your marketing map: positive health outcomes. EHR-empowered patient services will get you there.
Nadine Leonard is MD and executive strategy director and Hudson Plumb is SVP, strategy | EHR and outcomes optimization at Heartbeat.