Recently I was asked to discuss the impact COVID-19 was having across healthcare and the point of care landscapes. Here is my take on these topics…
COVID-19 has fundamentally affected all parts of our society. And while many businesses have struggled to survive, pharmacies are being relied on more than ever. They continue to help communities by providing necessities far beyond medication. Right after the pandemic began, pharmacies worked to obtain the authority to order and administer COVID tests to help prevent patients from further spreading the virus. And as we wait for a COVID vaccine, pharmacies are continuing to protect our health by ramping up for a robust vaccination season across all categories.
Before COVID hit, the US was already experiencing a deficit of physicians, and the pandemic created an even greater need for healthcare professionals. To fill the gap, states began to use a variety of creative methods to call out to all healthcare professionals and ask for added support. Doctors and their staff had to get inventive to overcome barriers created by the virus making it challenging to engage with and treat patients without risking further spread. This also meant a quicker adoption of the technology needed to communicate with and treat patients unable to come into the office. I think this new varied method of treatment with digital and tangible methods will continue to be relied upon even after this pandemic is far behind us.
And as for Pharma Marketers
As a result of COVID-19, regulations and safety protocols have created even more challenges for pharma marketers trying to reach healthcare providers and patients. In a survey conducted by our physician liaisons, we found that even during this pandemic, 74% of doctors were still seeing patients daily at the office, and even using their waiting rooms. So, what does this mean? To me, it means that even in these strange times there are still opportunities for marketers to reach doctors and patients both inside and outside of the office environment. And with a balanced approach of educational and promotional materials— both digital and physical/tangible— and by using various channels to reach them, marketers can continue to effectively impact patients and doctors.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Even though POC looks different, with masks on faces, and people talking to their co-workers from their laptop, there are many elements that have not changed. People are still turning to the pharmacy for more than just medicine and to pharmacists for more than just advice about a prescription. HCPs are busier than ever, but they are still interested and willing to take the time to learn about new drug therapies that can help their patients. And there are still countless opportunities for pharma marketers to reach doctors and patients through the harmonization of education and promotion.
Five years from now, the healthcare landscape could be a completely different place than what we’re used to today. And five years from that, it will most likely change even more. With the current pandemic, we are just seeing an acceleration of that change.