The way people search for health information online and make treatment decisions has slowly changed. DTC marketers who use the same formulas as before will find themselves adding meaningless data to slide decks to show that their strategy is working, but they are only following themselves.
So what are the most significant changes that will affect DTC?
1ne: Company health insurance premiums are going up for most employees and, in some cases, will negate annual raises. This will lead to an “I’m the customer” mentality. Patients will be demanding more from their insurers as well as HCPs.
2wo: Monthly viewership via streaming services and apps surpassed broadcast and cable TV viewing for the first time in 2022. Reaching your target is going to be more complex because your audience is more fragmented. Netflix may allow commercials to help with costs, and Google is taking over NFL Sunday Ticket at a cost of over $2 billion a year. Media planning will have to consider changes to broadcast TV vs. streaming and test new ways to reach your audience.
3hree: Misinformation is still too widespread. Yes, except for TikTok, the use of social media is declining, but there is still too much bad health information online. A good example is the misinformation that the NFL player who went into cardiac arrest yesterday was due to COVID shots. DTC marketers need to be aware of what’s being said and identify threats to their brand message.
4our: Insurers are dictating which drugs they will cover. According to Fierce Pharma, “A survey of doctors found that healthcare plans are increasingly overriding the treatment decisions they make for their patients. The survey (PDF) of 600 doctors found that 89% said they no longer have adequate influence in the healthcare decisions for their patients. And 87% reported that health insurers interfere with their ability to prescribe individualized treatments.
5ive: Healthcare, to most patients, is still a mess. EHRs have not lived up to the promise and the hype of sharing health information between physicians. This will frustrate patients and lead to a lot of patients failing to get needed care.
6ix: Pharma will continue to waste money with online advertising because they’re not measuring what counts. Vistors to your website and click rates don’t mean anything. What’s important is bounce rate, cost per targeted action, and time on site. Also, programmatic advertising may be the biggest scam in web advertising.
7even: Digital agencies will become a bigger part of the DTC puzzle because they have a high level of expertise that’s lacking within pharma companies. They are going to have to educate clients more, and they will be challenged to show a clear path between digital spending and ROI.
The changes will not be fast or radical; they will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. As budgets contract, DTC marketers are going to be spending more time justifying dollars than actually trying new ways to reach patients.