Male patient receiving advice from female doctor


  • Consumer adoption of new habits and the inflationary environment are presenting challenges for patients and doctors.
  • The resulting uncertainties have led to health hesitancy, such as stalling of prescription purchase.
  • Read on for advice concerning the best path to prescription.

How Pharmaceutical Companies and Healthcare Providers Can Reengage with Patients Who Need Them  

Nothing seems predictable these days. The same can be said for action taken in the prescription drug category.  

Before COVID-19, anyone with a health issue might make an appointment with their doctor or specialist, have a consultation about the condition and subsequently may get a prescription pharmaceutical to treat that condition. COVID, however, has upended some of that normal process to reach the end of the path to prescription, creating a challenging environment not only for patients and doctors, but marketers as well.

Consumers are retaining some of their old habits but are also adopting new ones like telemedicine and prescription apps. For example, GoodRx reported that monthly active consumers increased 26% in Q4 2020 versus the same period the prior year. Today, there is more choice for how and where consumers engage with their providers and how much they will pay.

But add the abundance of choice to current economic trends, and you end up with a good deal of health hesitancy, prompted by new uncertainties in 2022. Inflation has caused some stalling of prescription purchase, as retail prices for some well-known drugs have increased at twice the rate of inflation according to the June 2021 AARP “Rx Price Watch” report.  

GoodRx says over 800 drugs increased in price in January 2022 by an average of 5.1%. And as drug prices rise, wages have remained steady. An estimated 31 million Americans still do not have health insurance, have a high-deductible health plan, or, like older consumers, are frustrated with the complexities of the Medicare Part D program and therefore give up on some prescription use.  

So, what exactly is the best path to prescription? It starts with educating consumers about their health conditions and encouraging a more in-depth provider visit. Education and information are more likely to resonate with patients when they are in a healthcare mindset, which is not necessarily when they are face to face with a provider. For instance, Vericast in-market signals indicate that over four million consumers are online each week, searching for general information regarding medications. Anticipating the best opportunities to deliver a message that will influence people presents a new but worthy challenge, both online and offline.  

Most marketers are still relying heavily on traditional TV to do the lion’s share of the work. In 2021 according to Kantar Ad Insights, marketers in the prescription medications category dedicated 82% of budgets to TV advertising. On the other hand, digital, which overall saw significant acceleration during COVID, was only 6% of media spend, yet Prosper Insights & Analytics reported in January 2022 that digital influences 41% of consumer prescription purchase, compared to 15% for traditional TV.

Print also influences 22% of prescription users’ purchase. For marketers who want to win in this space, allocating more toward digital campaigns with a print complement will be more impactful than a strictly high-awareness strategy. 

A balanced strategy includes top- and bottom-funnel media channels. Advertisers can blanket key markets with general awareness via TV or digital about a particular medication and subsequently reach consumers further down the path-to-prescription funnel with more digital or print, as they are ready to make their decision.  

There are better alternatives to traditional, linear TV.  For instance, Connected TV (CTV) can grab the local share of mind in an environment where consumers are more apt to absorb an ad: 72% don’t mind watching ads on streaming platforms, and streaming adoption continues to increase. The latest Vericast Consumer Intel Report notes that 61% of total consumers are watching more streaming videos and TV shows.

Contextual targeting — adding digital placements on pages as consumers are already searching for information — is another effective strategy. Both digital and CTV can be used strategically to generate awareness and to engage the right audience segments. Companies such as Vericast can identify these targets and reach them while complying with applicable privacy regulations. 

Motivating consumers to take care of their health may not be easy, but it is critical. To do this, however, there must be a paradigm shift in go-to-market media strategies to effectively reach and influence them. Reaching this audience now could be the right strategic dose to help close that visit gap and give consumers a better remedy than they are currently choosing.