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3 Ways OTC Brands Can Help Patients During Cold and Flu Season

Woman with Cold and Flu

It’s beginning to look a lot like cold and flu season—and if this year is anything like last year, we’d better get ready.

A whopping 22.7 million Americans visited a healthcare provider for cold and flu last year and spent more than $8 billion on OTC drugs.

While hundreds of OTC medications stand ready to help patients through the cold and flu onslaught, the options can be overwhelming. And when you throw in active ingredients, private label vs. branded and delivery system, the options truly are endless.

So, how can OTC brands help deliver relief? By leveraging the doctor’s office—the very place doctors and patients are having important healthcare conversations and making treatment decisions.

Here are three ways OTC brands can help patients get better—starting at the point of care:

Communicate through a trusted source

When it comes to their healthcare, most Americans trust their doctor. When consumers can learn more about your brand in the waiting room or exam room, they can ask their doctor—that trusted authority—about a treatment right then and there.

SEE ALSO: The Power of Point of Care

Whether or not a patient brings it up, OTC medications will likely surface in treatment discussions. In fact, 75 percent of HCPs recommend OTC products prior to prescribing a medicine. And healthcare consumers who receive an HCP recommendation for an OTC brand buy 87 percent more units and make 86 percent more trips to a retailer.2

Point of care messaging empowers consumers to go to the shelf knowing exactly what OTC product they are going to buy to self-treat—the one they saw in their doctor’s office.

Turn wait time into learning time

When cold and flu attack, consumers visit the doctor to get fast relief. But it’s often hurry up and wait: the average wait time across all specialties in the U.S. is just over 18 minutes.

OTC brands can transform wait times into learning time by featuring messaging next to relevant educational content at key touchpoints:

  • Waiting room: 63% of patients say that waiting is the most stressful part of a doctor’s visit. Engage them via mobile or digital screens with relevant information specific to their condition or share relatable testimonials and patient success stories.
  • Exam room: While patients anxiously await their doctor’s arrival, give them tools that will drive action and enhance their doctor discussion—think mechanism-of-action videos, savings and support information and more in-depth treatment information.


Make it easy

Placing your brand at the point of care makes it easy for HCPs to recommend your product and for patients to find relief faster. Consider that 79 percent of HCPs recommend brands by name3 and that a majority of patients visit a retailer within a few hours of their visit.

Being present at the point of care seeds your product in the mind of the consumer before they even get to the store—they have already made their product decision.

Simply put, point of care helps consumers cut through the clutter and look for your brand by name once they get to the store.

Will HCPs be telling their patients to “take two [INSERT YOUR BRAND] and call me in the morning” this cold and flu season?

Contact us to learn more about how a point of care strategy can help patients and drive value to your OTC brand.

12016 Nationwide web survey of 51 HCPs with the PatientPoint Educate—Primary Care Program installed in their exam rooms

2Heather Coyle at the 2018 CHPA Marketing Conference

3Readex research, 2016 Product and Purchasing Study, AAFP