Boston, MA – In a recent poll conducted by market research firm InCrowd revealed that patients are three times more likely to ask about a drug from an ad during a visit than they asked just five years prior. DTC ad spend has increased double digits over the most recent years (26% in 2015, for example, according to Nielsen) which is fueling the increase but are the ads effective?

The results also show a gap still exists between the messaging and what the patient understands. 65% of the doctors polled said they don’t believe patients understand the information pharmaceutical companies are conveying in these ads and even more alarming, 49% of doctors said these ads actually hinder a patient’s understanding of the conditions or treatments.

This messaging gap points to a 2017 healthcare trend we are watching:

Still Don’t Get It:

Amylopectin. Hydrofluoroalkane. Minimum Essential Coverage. We don’t understand them either, and terms like these are bringing health literacy back into the spotlight. Look for a push for simplicity in communications and a groundswell of conversation about how to decode healthcare for the everyday people who need the knowledge the most. 

As another proof point laddering up to this trend and overall health literacy, a 2016 poll by United Healthcare revealed that only 7% of the U.S. population showed an understanding of all four of these basic health insurance terms:

  • Health care premium (62%)
  • Health plan deductible (62%)
  • Out-of-pocket maximum (36%)
  • Co-insurance (32%)

Why This Matters:

While the advertisements that agencies are creating for pharmaceutical companies seem to be working as the poll shows an increase in patient engagement on options, there is a significant gap in messaging to help a patient understand what condition or treatment exists within the advertising.

As campaigns are developed, it is not only important from a messaging standpoint but also a regulatory angle to make sure while safety and efficacy are important, they don’t hinder what is most important, getting the right treatment options to the right patient population!

About the Author:

As Strategist of Innovation, Drew is charged daily with championing innovative thinking and doing. Drew is part of a global team that leads new innovative ideas that attract different advocates among existing and potential brands that are shared across all agency partners. Drew is backed by over 16 years of brand, sales and marketing experience with Fortune 500 companies such as Progressive and Nationwide Insurance as well as Founder & President of his own healthcare insurance agency for 6 years. Most recently Drew was part of the agency team that launched Briviact for UCB, Foundation Medicine as well as key roles with Eli Lilly Oncology and Johnson & Johnson.