Are healthcare agencies really this clueless?

PONTIFICATION: Healthcare agencies need to be the agents of change and lead by example. Speculation or buying into the temporary changes brought on by the pandemic are unrealistic.

I just finished reading the latest edition of MedAd News and besides being really dip pointed with the content I was extremely put back by the section on agency people speculating on the changes brought on by the pandemic.

First let’s me discuss the elephant in the room, telehealth. Yes, there are more people using telehealth but that’s because they are afraid of the virus. Telehealth will remain for people who just want an Rx but it will decline as the virus threat subsides.

Then there is “patient engagement technology.” Most of this is just bullshit. The technology is more about wellness, then helping patients monitor their health. Besides, physicians have still not bought into the whole technology trends unless it drives patients into their office.

What I’m not seeing is the need for improved basic patient contact points with pharma, especially in the digital area. The idea that pharma should take a amore active roll in social media because patients are seeking advice from other patients is myopic.

I spent more than four months monitoring social media around certain medical conditions and found that 80% of the advice was based on personal experience and was inaccurate. Can pharma really intercede in this conversation when there is so little trust in “big pharma”?

There was essentially no mention of the first patient touchpoint; product websites. In an audit of several top prescription drug websites, I found that 90% had not updated content even when there was more buzz around the medication or health condition in question. This is unacceptable, and one reason why bounce rates of pharma product websites remain so high.

Are there changes coming to healthcare? You better believe it but technology, alone, is NOT the answer. Technology can’t replace the expertise of a qualified HCP, nor should it. Hell, patients still don’t have complete control of their electronic health records!

In calls with clients, I have strongly recommended that they need strong marketing people in-house rather than relying on agencies. Most have agreed but adding headcount is not easy. On top of all this, marketing expertise is getting harder to find as people leave the industry or change companies.

If MedAd News interviews with top agency people is an indication of agency capabilities they are in deep trouble.