Article: Digital Tools at the Point of Care offer Practice Extensions During COVID-19 - April 2020


The following is summary of a DHC virtual roundtable, moderated by DHC Group Co-Founder Mark Bard. A brief video summary of the discussion is available here →


Digital Tools at the Point of Care as a Practice Extension

The theme of this discussion was digital tools at the point of care as a practice extension, especially in light of the current COVID-19 environment. There’s a perception that most physicians right now have closed their practices. The reality is more of a mixed bag.

POC experts like panelist Linda Ruschau tell us that “the data and the research from our advisory boards shows that physicians, particularly in the more chronic or serious conditions like oncology, still want many of their patients coming in. Obviously, they’ve changed their protocol and screening, and they’re limiting the number of care partners that are able to accompany the patient. This is especially true outside of COVID-19 hot zones.”

We also know that doctors are hungry for information on COVID.

Panel Participants

  • Melissa Skidd, Lead, Contract Sales Services, AstraZeneca
    View LinkedIn

POC companies have created relevant content, in addition to basics around best hand-washing techniques, providing needed condition-specific information as it relates to increased risk factors or where extra precautions are recommended. Now more than ever, physicians need our industry’s support and patient education.

POC Landscape Will Continue to be Dynamic

After being turned upside due to COVID-19, the POC landscape will continue to be highly dynamic for the next few months. The panel looked at how existing technology is helping the average physician maintain their current practice as they navigate the next two to three months, and what technology adoptions are rapidly accelerating right now.
david windhausen

“The education delivered at the point of care is still critically important, but the question is now ‘how do we deliver that message”. Not just in terms of individual tactics but also the ability to be integrated into an overall strategic outlook that treats patients as individuals, as humans. “As we still move into this non-personal world, we can’t lose the human aspect.” – David Windhausen

1. QR Codes

While QR codes seemed a thing of the past, thanks to smartphones and the need to engage without touching, QR codes are back. All a patient has to do is hold their smartphone camera on the QR codes now displayed on POC screens in physician offices. Within days of launching, PatientPoint saw over 2200 scans of QR codes across different specialties and doctors’ officers. This has allowed delivery of the same content and educational information to patients but in a way that feels safe and meaningful. With patients now interacting inside of a physician’s office with QR code, the experts predict this will drive more rapid adoption of smart screen technology, as well as associated tech around secure enabled touch for data transfer.

2. Mobile

The radius of some geofencing messaging is already being expanded to factor in patients now waiting in the parking lot. This approach addressed the need to impact and education that patient who might not be spending quite as much time in the waiting room.

“This has required a very unique and rapid pivot in the point of care space from mediums and platforms heavily focused on getting people to engage and touchall those interactive devices.  It’s fascinating. Just as consumers, from checking in at the airline to the ATM to the grocery store, there’s now this not only resistance but many times a mandate not to touch.” – Linda R.

3. Physician Access/Detailing

The ability to deliver a back office message to physicians has become increasingly important. Drug messaging around compliance, adherence, and new launches all remain critical information that doctors still need. With respect to access, every specialty is different. Those associated with the challenges of COVID-19, pulmonologists for example, need as little disruption as possible. Specialists with less impact are still very open to access.

The first consideration for the shift to e-detailing right now is the customer’s experience. The physician’s needs and landscape in which they are providing care right now should be the first priority. Digital assets being created right now should be focused on adding value, as well as with consideration towards building a long-term relationship. Pharma’s use of email to physicians is up significantly during the COVID-19 crisis, delivering resources and education around co-morbidities.

Changes Now Will Have Lasting Effect

In addition to the immediate impact on point of care and office dynamics, experts agree that the changes we are now undergoing will have a lasting effect on the future. The panelists also looked at how COVID-19 is driving digital transformation that will require long-term strategic thinking. They advise that marketers:
david windhausen

“This will impact long-term how we think about digital in our outreach.” – David W.

1. Avoid Trying To Leap-Frog Into The Future

This is a continuum. Where you are now and what you can do to have the most impact on your specific audience should be identified by building a road map. This moment of rapid acceleration is going to get you there quicker than you were going before, but you’re not going to suddenly leap-frog into the future. It must still be thought through in order to identify the right long-term strategy. “It’s doing things in a meaningful way but you’re not completely abandoning your strategy in the way that you’re approaching things. You’re just evolving that.” – Linda R.

2. Shift to a Mindset of “Virtual Health vs “Telemedicine”

“I think in the industry, we’re all saying telemedicine and it’s really virtual health.” – Linda R. At the end of 2019, only 10% of consumers had ever tried utilizing telemedicine and only 3% of the older demographic are even open to trying it (source: AmWell research). Evidence from physicians tell us that they while they are not necessarily utilizing “telemedicine”, they are still engaging with patients virtually – even if it means calling them on the phone.

The COVID-19 landscape has accelerated this practice, and for chronic conditions, is establishing more rigorous protocols. Practitioners who haven’t dealt with virtual health before are being forced to figure it out quickly and, it’s different disease state to disease state, indication, specialty etc.

Understanding the Physician Objectives and Business Model Impacts for Virtual Health:

  • A more well-rounded experience for patients, whether in-office or virtual
  • Complying with state guidelines
  • Picking a platform and technology that’s HIPPA compliant
  • Factoring in how payers/Medicaid/Medicare are going to reimburse

3. Leverage Data as Part of Your Marketing Strategy

The successful integration and analysis of data will be a critical component of long-term digital transformation. This will include data that informs who your audience is; data that then informs what kind of content said audience would deem relevant so that you are providing value; data that then predicts when you should deliver that content; data that gives them the ability to control their own experience; and finally, it’s data that allows them to optimize.

4. Improve the Content Creation Process

In both the short and long term, the increased focus on digital content delivery around the point of care is creating an increased need for efficiency through regulatory approval. HCPs are looking for a lot of information. They need a lot of things from pharma now, and pharma has the opportunity to step up and do that. Marketers should have a clear picture of the experience you are creating and a plan for how to do that successfully within your organization.

The Final Word

Patients are scared right now, not just from a health standpoint but from an economic standpoint. They want more information. Marketers looking to make a difference should be focusing on promoting savings offers, and highlighting compliance and adherence to avoid increased risks. “My hope is that in the end, we have clients who’ve adapted, been more resilient, more responsive, and also just an overall better perception and receptivity to pharma in general from both doctors and patients.” – Linda R.



Subscribe to our Mailing List

Receive more DHC content like this directly in your inbox. We will respect your privacy and never sell your information. View our Privacy Policy.

* indicates required