In addition to the colossal challenges the COVID-19 pandemic is directly presenting to the healthcare system, a follow-on problem for providers – and pharma – is the roadblock it presents in getting patients in front of HCPs for diagnosis, treatment, and care management.

The data has borne out what many of us have experienced ourselves: the majority of Americans have cancelled or delayed elective or routine healthcare appointments due to the pandemic.

Our own recent research has investigated this further, with data from healthcare professionals and pharma executives that will be available soon in a new Intouch white paper tracking the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

Seventy percent of pharma respondents reported that their brands had experienced a pandemic-related decline in new patient starts, and patients’ fear of visiting HCPs was the main reason they projected for that decline.

Three pharma-sponsored campaigns are currently working to overcome this challenge at different levels: one for general health, one disease-specific, and one at the brand level.

From Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies: “My Health Can’t Wait
This general wellness campaign offers “a comprehensive hub of resources to help prioritize healthcare” for patients and caregivers, as well as for HCPs.

For patients, they offer checklists, guides, and education on how to visit the doctor, how to have a telehealth appointment, what kind of questions to consider asking, as well as offering links to COVID-19 testing and state-by-state COVID-19 rules on healthcare procedures.

For HCPs, they offer recommendations, guides, and even templates to help practices communicate with patients about visits, telehealth, or surgery; conduct local media relations and social-media outreach; and succeed in telehealth.

The campaign is accompanied by the above-mentioned survey (a detailed report of which is available here).

My Health Can't Wait

From AstraZeneca: “New Normal Same Cancer
This unbranded campaign is focused on the importance of cancer screening and care, and was developed with worldwide cancer-patient organizations. AZ told FiercePharma there had been “a 46.4% drop in newly diagnosed patients in the U.S. across six cancer areas: breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, gastric and esophageal… [t]hat could result in more than 33,890 deaths from cancer in the next year.”

The focus of the campaign is a 30-second video that points out, “Cancer isn’t waiting for things to get back to normal. Why should you?” and encourages viewers, “Don’t wait. Contact your doctor. Get checked. Get treatment.” It has appeared across social media since its launch in October. The video is accompanied by shareable resources such as an infographic and social images.

From Eliquis (BMS and Pfizer) “No Time to Wait
The BMS-Pfizer Alliance’s new campaign, on behalf of their anticoagulant Eliquis, seeks to raise awareness and encourage action on the need to rapidly diagnose and treat atrial fibrillation, deep-vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism.

It includes a website, as well as ads for websites and social media, and broadcast and streaming TV and radio.

NoTimeToWait.com explains the symptoms that patients should look for, and provides explainers and links to additional resources. Both the website and the ads feature physicians Jenice Baker and Andrea Russo.

We can certainly consider ourselves lucky if we’re able to minimize our exposure to risk, and if a standard healthcare visit is the worst of our health concerns right now. But it’s unfortunately true that normal life and normal problems don’t patiently wait for crises to end – and missing appointments may mean missing out on important, even life-changing, care.

These campaigns are important efforts to help patients understand why, and how, to continue getting the care that they need. Stay tuned for more from Intouch on this in our expansive second whitepaper discussing the impact of – and efforts to address – the pandemic on pharma marketing.

Pre-register to receive for our latest whitepaper here.