In an earlier post I outlined criteria useful in determining if your product is ready for a DTC campaign. The first of which is ‘the product/procedure is widely available through providers’. Most of our healthcare is delivered to us through the physician [provider], and as needed, the physician refers us to another provider, or another healthcare service. When we are sick or hurt we go see a doctor.
If our symptoms are tolerable, or we feel like it will pass and we are not yet at death’s doorstep, we may delay calling the doctor. We may first consult family or friends. We may do an internet search to try and match our symptoms to something described on a reliable site. However, if the symptoms persist, and our armchair doctoring fails – we go to the doctor. It is common and proper to defer to the expert and for health and wellness concerns, it is the doctor we should consult, they are supposed to know what to do for us.
We do not typically turn on the TV, or flip through a magazine or even tune the radio, seeking an advertisement about that which ails us.
Therefore, it is a logical conclusion that before broadcasting product availability to consumers, the doctor should be made aware of the product, the application and the appropriate patient for whom the product is best suited. In the medical device field, this awareness may also include product use training so that the doctor is prepared to treat the patient. The next likely questions might be ‘how many doctors must be aware and prepared?’ and ‘how fast can this happen?’
The answer to the first question is likely answered in the company business plan. The number of doctors that require preparation equals the number of doctors who serve patients with the healthcare issue for which the product is labeled. This is especially true if the healthcare concern is rare, and physicians who treat patients with the concern are few in number. This is also true if a goal of the company is to achieve a standard of care declaration that references the product.
However, the real number is that which represents a significant enough population of physicians to serve the patients in a timely manner, to which you direct advertising. To determine how many, who they are and where they are requires a clear understanding of the specialty, patient referral patterns, and regulatory and reimbursement environments. Defining these market aspects is fundamental to establishing good marketing strategy.
Solid marketing strategy supports well coordinated marketing planning. Planning before spending will more likely result in the laying of a golden egg.
How fast can this happen? Stay tuned for that post.
(c) 2010 pH Consulting