What is Direct-to-Patient Marketing?

August 25, 2016

In the past, pharmaceutical and medical device companies marketed their products primarily to physicians and surgeons. This strategy certainly made a lot of sense, and still does, as physicians and surgeons are ultimately the ones prescribing the medications and recommending or using particular devices and implants.

However, the medical landscape is changing. These changes are allowing patients to have more options for their medical care. When most people have to make decisions about their health, it isn’t something that they take lightly. In many cases, patients are doing research and consulting with a number of different sources before reaching a decision.

That’s where direct-to-patient marketing comes in.

What is Direct-to-Patient Marketing?

Direct-to-patient marketing is exactly what it sounds like—marketing your product directly to patients, rather marketing your product to physicians. That could mean websites and ads directly targeted to patients, or it could mean providing your physician clients with marketing materials to provide to patients. Marketing to physicians is still important for medical device and pharmaceutical companies, but companies that focus their marketing strategies solely on physicians and surgeons are missing out on prime opportunities.

Patients are often researching their symptoms and conditions before they even see a physician. According to Google, 1 in 20 searches on the site are for health-related information. Search Engine Land reported that Google confirmed that they process trillions of searches each year, although they did not confirm an exact figure. Still, whether that number is closer to 2 trillion or 999 trillion, 1 in 20 still amounts to quite a high number of health-related searches.

By including direct-to-patient marketing in their marketing strategies, medical device and pharmaceutical companies can reach these patients by helping them get the information they are looking for, either directly or via their physicians.

How Direct-to-Patient Marketing Helps

Google’s stats make it clear that patients are seeking out information before scheduling appointments and before moving ahead with treatment. Ultimately, they are seeking solutions to their problems.

There are a number of sources, both online and offline, that can provide information to patients. Some of that information is very high-quality and helpful, but there is also an abundance of misinformation out there. Medical device and pharmaceutical companies have an opportunity here to provide a reliable source of information for these patients. Your marketing materials can educate patients and help them decide whether your product is right for them. Ultimately, physicians and surgeons will decide whether or not your product is right for patients, but patients are taking more of an active role in that decision-making process than they have in the past.

In some cases, patients may have heard about a particular medication or device before an appointment. They may be researching for more information prior to the appointment to be able to discuss the treatment with their physician. In other cases, a physician may recommend a particular treatment or device, or present the patient with a few different options for treatment. In those cases, the patient will probably do research to learn more about the treatment or device before moving forward with treatment. Patients may be able to find information about specific medications and devices from third-party sources, but where better to find the most accurate information than the source (your company)?

This also presents an excellent opportunity for physicians to reach more patients. If physicians market themselves correctly, and you provide them with the right marketing materials, you can reach the patient via the physician. The physician can attract more patients, and you can make sure that patients are getting the information they need to make an informed decision. It’s a win-win for your company and your physicians.

Direct-to-patient marketing isn’t as much an obvious sales pitch as it is making sure that patients have the information they need to be able to make informed decisions about their treatment. They want to know about potential side effects and hear stories from other patients. Your medication or device may be a perfect fit for some patients, and it may not be for others. Direct-to-patient marketing allows your company to better connect with the patients that your products can help.

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