Prior to the evolving impact of COVID-19, the use of telemedicine was already trending, in large part due to its immediacy, convenience, and ever-improving technology. From 2015-2018, the number of physicians who self-reported telemedicine as a skill doubled, increasing 20% a year (Doximity 2019 study). And now, that number is sure to increase. In the past 3 months, we’ve seen the stock of Teladoc Health, a virtual healthcare and telemedicine company, skyrocket by 105%.
For healthcare professionals (HCPs), adding a telemedicine solution has never been easier. Due to current circumstances, both patients and HCPs don’t have a choice but to utilize technology for their healthcare needs (I myself have already had 2 virtual appointments with my physician since the coronavirus outbreak began in our country). One might assume that the ability to use such technology is limited to younger, more eager, and tech-savvy doctors, but telemedicine is being implemented and engaged with equally across age groups.
What does this mean for marketers?
We need to think differently more than ever – and if you haven’t gone digital, well, now you have no choice. Rep access to offices is limited and visits have rapidly declined. Direct mail and in-office tactics are no longer as impactful. Telemedicine platforms are becoming more and more a part of a physician’s workflow. Some platforms offer stand-alone technologies, while others are “off-the-shelf” with EHR integration. There is a great opportunity to serve brand messages with leaderboard and text ads, broad-reaching campaigns during virtual appointment set-ups, and even the potential to target HCPs based on patient charts being accessed within the platform.
Does every therapeutic category (and brand) have an opportunity with telemedicine?
YES – but it’s not a level playing field. We know because of patient needs that specialty areas like radiology, psychiatry, internal medicine, and neurology are extremely engaged. But for those not as engaged – anesthesiologists, general surgeons, oncologists, and orthopedic surgeons – efforts to leverage telemedicine are not met with the same enthusiasm, as the technology is not viewed as having the same potentially positive impacts.
Stay focused: Telemedicine is a very diverse platform – with no global solution for how to best use it. And as marketers, while we cannot control what platform HCPs and patients are using, we can constantly monitor use to ensure we are reaching our targets at the right time and place. For physicians looking to avoid the stress of implementing the plethora of telemedicine options available, SOFTWARE ADVICE is a welcome partner. The company provides wonderful resources for marketers and agencies to get an understanding of the different technologies available – see for yourself: https://www.softwareadvice.com/telemedicine/
For more information on telehealth/telemedicine opportunities for your brand, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.