In the not-so-distant past, consumers had little control or options when it came to healthcare. Essentially, the family doctor was the keeper of patient health records and medical knowledge. In the past several years, consumers have slowly taken more control of decisions regarding their healthcare.
Today consumers are making more cost-conscious choices outside of traditional medical settings or delaying elective or costly procedures. As such, patients are demanding transparency and more information from their providers—and beginning to shop around to get it. From the Internet to mobile apps, patients have more access than ever before to a wealth of knowledge about their health and wellness, and they want to take a leading role in their own treatment.
While pharmaceutical companies have long run advertising campaigns describing the disease state that their drug treats and encouraging people to ask their doctor about it, the rise of today’s empowered patient is leading more and more medical device companies to augment their marketing plans with direct-to-consumer (DTC) educational efforts.
DTC efforts funded by medical device companies can be a great way to onboard new surgeons and surgical practices, especially during a launch phase, by priming the pump with interested prospective patients. DTC efforts can also serve a more strategic role in gathering business intelligence and developing a predictable and profitable patient acquisition model for companies. But there are certain shortcomings that typically occur that can stunt success.
Effective DTC for Medical Device Companies
DTC can present a variety of challenges for medical device companies. Typically we see these challenges fall into two categories:
- Inadequate tracking and
- Insufficient expertise in lead nurturing.
To run an effective DTC campaign, medical device companies should start by using tracking mechanisms that capture a holistic view of the campaign. It is not enough to only measure traffic to a landing page or physician locator. You must also capture how many people contact one of your physicians, make an appointment and eventually get the procedure. In addition, without a proper tracking system in place, the company is blind in terms of refining the media strategy and spending marketing dollars effectively.
Along with tracking, medical device companies must implement lead nurturing programs for DTC leads. Unlike medications, conversion cycle times for devices can run long. During this time, the benefits of the procedure need to be consistently reinforced. Patients will need to ask questions and gain confidence before they commit to an appointment or procedure. Most practices are not equipped to nurture leads in a consistent and effective manner, so the onus is on the company to deliver content of sufficient value while providing the practice tools to educate the patient once they have made an appointment. Efforts put forth in call tracking and lead nurturing also position your company as an active and accountable marketing partner.
Grey Matter Marketing implemented a full system of tracking, reporting and analytics for a DTC program with Renessa, a 30-minute, non-surgical treatment for Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) developed by Novasys. The success of this campaign was featured in DTC Perspectives.