POC 101: Efficiently Reaching Key Rare Diseases Target Audiences at the Point-of-Care 

by Ray Calara

“For those who aren’t already familiar, POC marketing refers to highly targeted, promotional messaging aimed towards healthcare providers and patients within clinical settings, such as hospitals and doctors’ offices.”


Rare diseases in healthcare pose significant challenges—for pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers and patients alike. These are conditions that are often difficult to recognize and diagnose. Combined with the small population affected by them, it can be particularly challenging for pharmaceutical companies to develop efficient and effective marketing strategies. Point-of-care (POC) marketing has been proven to be an extremely effective tool in helping rare disease drug companies reach healthcare providers with relevant messaging, and this can lead to the recognition of rare disease symptoms, early diagnoses, and treatment, as well as brand awareness. In addition, POC marketing can provide support for patients and offer information to help them take control of their own treatment plan or open important health discussions with their provider. Together, these have the potential to lead to better clinical outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, and increased script lift from prescribers.  

For those who aren’t already familiar, POC marketing refers to highly- targeted, promotional messaging aimed towards healthcare providers and patients within clinical settings, such as hospitals and doctors’ offices. This marketing approach utilizes the environment where healthcare decisions are made and treatment plans are often discussed, creating excellent opportunities to deliver relevant and valuable information to healthcare decision makers and their patients. Messaging within the electronic health records (EHRs) can leverage opportunities where decision makers access information that may be relevant to certain rare diseases and can help reach the HCP at key decision points with a patient. In addition to that focused interaction, important decision makers within target institutions can be reached via Account-Based Marketing (ABM) when they are researching or showing intent by consuming information relevant to a given disease state on the internet. POC  marketing can effectively reach target audiences and generate awareness about rare diseases and available treatment options. It’s no wonder strategically integrating marketing initiatives with opportunities at the point of care is a cost-effective tool that companies within the rare disease space have utilized to create positive impact, not only for the pharmaceutical company, but for the patient as well. 

“Ogilvy Health has had remarkable success with our clients utilizing POC marketing in the rare disease arena.”


There are several benefits POC marketing offers, including improved diagnosis, heightened awareness of the disease state and brand, enhanced engagement, and targeted communication. Facilitating information within the EHR system by offering relevant information, such as educational materials and available diagnostic tools related to rare disease states, can help lead to a more accurate diagnosis. In rare diseases, both patients and clinicians struggle with trying to find the definitive diagnosis, not unlike finding the needle in the haystack. In addition to having such a rare set of characteristics, rare diseases also suffer from lack of awareness, even among clinicians, with symptoms not being recognized as relating to a rare disease. This can create a long, convoluted journey for patients, which may cost them years of suffering while trying to find the answer to their ailments. With EHR messaging, triggering messages off specific combinations of symptoms and test results in order to provide tools at the point of care for HCPs, we can help directly decrease the amount of time to diagnosis. Furthermore, increasing awareness within the EHR workflow to providers can connect the rare disease to a real solution, while simultaneously keeping the brand top of mind. This includes engaging patients and providers with more information about the options for treatment, such as copay cards and patient assistance programs, to remove the intimidation of cost that may be an initial obstacle for HCPs to write for branded drugs.  

Ogilvy Health has had remarkable success with our clients utilizing POC marketing in the rare disease arena. Last year, we ran an EHR program with a one-of-a-kind drug, targeting a rare genetic condition affecting both adults and children that significantly decreases quality of life. Until the approval of this drug, standard of treatment only relieved symptoms of the disorder. We utilized highly targeted and educational messaging, aimed towards endocrinologists and nephrologists to help them identify the rare disease, triggered by business rules that included a combination of symptoms, as well as standard of care medications noted in the EHR. The initial seven-month pilot campaign saw a 45% increase in prescriptions for the brand name drug compared to the baseline prescriptions written three months prior to launching the campaign. The program, which provided relief to patients who might otherwise have gone years without accurate diagnosis and treatment, ran again delivering an overall increase in prescription orders by 87%! This marketing approach proved successful due to the highly-targeted, highly- relevant messaging delivered to healthcare providers within the EHR at the right time—when they were with the right patient. 

POC marketing is a game-changing tool for pharmaceutical companies in the rare disease ecosphere. Being able to engage with healthcare decision makers and patients in a clinical setting provides a channel where marketers can address the unique challenges that rare diseases are associated with, and often at the point where the HCP is making key diagnosis and treatment decisions. The ability to message, to educate and inform healthcare professionals, decision makers, and patients, makes POC marketing a transformative opportunity for rare disease marketers in the pharmaceutical space. 

To read more thought leadership from Ogilvy Health, click HERE.