Clark Wiederhold

Direct-to-Consumer Marketing in Healthcare - 3 Misconceptions

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing for healthcare doesn’t have to be a long, expensive process.

direct to patient advertising illustration

MedTech companies, make no mistake: direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing in healthcare is an extremely effective market acceleration tool.

But we know you have your concerns.

If you think it’s only for the pharmaceutical and aesthetics industries…or that DTC marketing takes too long, is too expensive to produce, or doesn’t generate the returns — think again.

No doubt there’s a stigma associated with advertising healthcare products direct to the consumer. Some fear that it will drive patients that are not true candidates for a particular treatment.  

But for MedTech in particular, it could very well be the hope that it’s your device, your treatment, and the outcome you help facilitate…that de-stigmatizes a patient’s condition and encourages them to seek care and finally take action.

DTC marketing campaign

Here are 3 of the biggest misconceptions with direct-to-consumer healthcare marketing in the MedTech industry, and how you can overcome them to drive more patient demand.  

Misconception #1: DTC marketing in healthcare is too costly and time-consuming.

Many commercial teams that have researched creating a DTC patient education campaign believe it has to take a lot of capital budget, and a lot of time to simply get to the starting line. We speak with new clients regularly who were told by other agencies that it would cost $800,000+ and take 6-12 months just to create ads to use. Imagine, all that time and money and you don’t even know if it will drive patient behavior.

A patient-focused marketing strategy in MedTech has two main goals:

  • Move patients to seek help and see if they’re a candidate
  • Help motivated patients connect with providers who want to help with a specific issue

If you think about it, this kind of marketing isn’t so much about raising product awareness as it is changing behaviors — of both the patient and the physician. That’s rarely easy. It must take a lot of time, a lot of research, and a lot of focus groups to ensure the ideal message gets to the ideal people, right?

Not necessarily.

An efficient and thoughtful direct-to-patient engagement model can be cost-effectively set up and launched in 30 days or less. With the right approach, or by enlisting the services of an experienced agency, you’ll be armed with key insights and full psychographic profiles to target your DTC campaign.  

Here’s how to cut costs and save time with the right approach for A patient education campaign in healthcare:

  • Avoid focus groups and go straight to the source with interviews targeting the patient population
  • Strategically create messaging for the appropriate media
  • Get the message into the real world and gauge real response in a defined area before you scale
  • Negotiate media for an accelerated response
  • Use a medical call center to process calls and bookings (on average, 42% of all calls to medical practices are not answered. That’s an expensive call to miss, and it creates a poor patient experience from the start.)
  • Get the message out, watch the behavior, and optimize the messaging and tools deployed to increase effectiveness

Misconception #2: Why market to patients? They'll find their way to a provider.

For patients, the healthcare landscape can be overwhelming and vast. If there was a potentially better treatment option, one would assume that all doctors know about it…right?  

Ask yourself: “what percentage of my target patient population is stuck or trapped in primary care, another specialty, or some version of medical management in another practice?”

Then consider the fact that when patients are moved with specific messaging and learn that there is a better option they may be missing out on, you have an educated and motivated patient that will take action.  

When you take ownership of patient education you have the opportunity to help them find providers that will treat them if appropriate. The provider still has to practice medicine, and not every patient will be a fit, but why leave it to chance that people who likely need your solution actually find physicians who believe what you believe

By reaching them directly, speaking their language, arming them with talk tracks, and motivating them to start a dialogue with their healthcare provider, you’ve already won.

How can you reach your perfect patient?

Find an agency that targets specialty practice patients and uses neuroscience-based interviews to uncover the behaviors of your ideal patient population.

You’ll then have access to scientific data that informs the most effective approach toward accelerating your DTC campaign results. From the copy of the first message…to the image used in your social media ads…down to the matching words on a transcription of a call — you can quickly begin reaching the patients who need you.

And they’ll pay it forward to the physicians who need them.

Misconception #3: Marketing directly to patients produces ambiguous ROI.

Many commercial teams that have leveraged DTC campaigns of some kind end up frustrated with a lack of ability to clearly see if it’s driving an ROI. They are able to see audience size, open rates, share of voice, and click-through rates, but they still have no idea if any patients actually took action. Were appointments requested and set?

Once you’re able to track to a specific result a second common pitfall many teams fall into is only focusing on the single unit economics of the tracked result.  

How do you do this?

  • Pay attention to the ripple effect that the tracked behavior represents in the marketplace.  The patient that took action and you are able to track is actually only the tip of the ice proverbial iceberg. You want to look at increases across the entire market as well.
  • Foster and drive increased utilization by leveraging the patient education campaign in the field to engage and drive conversations with providers that have yet to adopt your therapy to its full indications. At the same time that you’re investing in educating your patient population, your sales team should use these efforts as a sales tool. Providers that have not adopted your tech yet will have opinions and questions, but they will not want to miss the opportunity to partner with companies that are more than just another vendor with a product in a box.

Ultimately, the best way to accelerate your therapy and its widespread use is to rapidly scale up and continually add more users. And the best way to do that is through early adopters and market disruptors — on both the patient and physician side.

Get a Direct-to-Consumer Marketing Campaign Running in 30 Days

DTC marketing doesn’t have to be a long, arduous, and massively expensive process. TrackableMed’s proven methodology can help you reach your patients with your therapy — without the expensive creative production and substantial setup costs and time.