Targeting Correctly and Advocating for Hidden Players
Episode

Linda García, Senior Vice President of Marketing at POCN

Targeting Correctly and Advocating for Hidden Players

 

What if we spread awareness about the importance of NPs and PAs with marketing?

In this episode of Marketing Mondays, Andreea Borcea interviews Linda García, Senior Vice President of Marketing at POCN, an education, and advocacy organization for nurse practitioners and physician associates in the United States. Linda has had a long, successful, and diversified career in healthcare marketing, but it was when she entered POCN that she realized how important Nurse Practitioners and Physician Associates are in the creation of treatment plans. She explains how POCN looks at aggregated data to re-attribute those activities back to their creators and discusses why they should be allowed to practice autonomously after their great work through the pandemic. She talks about how she has seen marketing and sales adapt to the current market dynamics with non-personal communications, which are still very targeted and customized.

Tune in to learn more about the work POCN does for NPs and PAs and take note of the lessons Linda has learned throughout her career in healthcare marketing!

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Targeting Correctly and Advocating for Hidden Players

About Linda García:

Linda has over 20 years of Pharmaceutical Sales/Marketing Industry experience in the Cardiovascular, Diabetes, Women’s Health, and CNS/Pain Management therapeutic areas. She has been at POCN, an education, and advocacy organization for nurse practitioners and physician associates, since 2020 and is currently the Senior Vice President of Marketing. She has previously worked for companies like AstraZeneca, Bayer, and Pfizer. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Denver in Biology, and a master’s degree in marketing from the George Washington University’s School of Business.

 

Marketing Mondays_Linda Garcia: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Marketing Mondays_Linda Garcia: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Andreea Borcea:
Welcome to the Marketing Mondays podcast, where we explore how we can make your offerings stand out in the health and wellness space. Through conversations with thought leaders and innovators in health and wellness marketing, we’ll discuss marketing best practices, case studies, and innovative ideas to help scale your business and grow revenues with impact. I’m excited to be your host. My name is Andreea Borcea. I’m a fractional CMO and owner of the Dia Creative Marketing Agency.

Andreea Borcea:
Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of Marketing Mondays. I’m your host, Andreea Borcea, CMO of Dia Creative, a digital marketing agency that specializes in a variety of marketing services, including health and wellness marketing. I am thrilled to bring you Linda García, Senior Vice President of Marketing at POCN, with over 25 years of experience in this field, and she’s got a ton of great stories. So Linda, welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for joining us.

Linda García:
Andreea, it’s a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Andreea Borcea:
So let’s start with a quick rundown of what POCN is.

Linda García:
Sure, POCN is an education and advocacy organization for nurse practitioners and physician associates in the United States. We are the largest network of NPs and PAs in the United States, with over 400,000 opted-in clinicians.

Andreea Borcea:
Incredible, so what are some interesting things you’ve learned while starting at POCN?

Linda García:
Well, you know, interestingly, Andreea, my background is traditionally been in product management or brand marketing, and early on in my career, I realized the importance of NPs and PAs in the whole treatment decision-making process and how really they were more involved with spending time in diagnosing patients and also counseling patients post-treatment. But really with this organization, I’ve come to realize the greater importance and influence that they have, both in identifying patients who are appropriate in treatment but also keeping them on treatment longer.

Andreea Borcea:
That’s such an important role that I think lots of people gloss over. So when you’re working with your target audience, are you working more with the PAs, or are you working more with physicians in like, to incorporate more of what PAs need?

Linda García:
That’s an interesting question. You know, in the past, while, I was working in brand management and I’ve worked with some pretty iconic brands. You know, I’ve worked in major brands in the women’s health and oncology space. I’ve worked on consumer brands such as Aleve and Bare Aspirin, and most recently in aesthetic products called Juvederm. The physician was a primary focus, and I realize now that it was because there was a lack of understanding, a lack of transparent data, which showed how the clinician’s influence was and the whole patient journey. And case in point, I think there was a misunderstanding as to who created the treatment plan, who was initiating the prescription, because in many states, Andreea, unfortunately, those prescriptions fall under the NPI number of overseeing physicians. So even though the NP or PA had generated that script or created that treatment, that treatment plan, the physician was taking credit for it. That was huge insight.

Andreea Borcea:
Yeah, that’s really tricky. How did you go about getting that data and discovering that? How is the data kind of flowing overall for you to do a great job in marketing? Because marketing is so tough when you don’t have the right data.

Linda García:
It is, it really is. Marketing is all about understanding the behaviors of your target audience, and targeting is really key, as you know. So what I love so much about this new role is that this organization takes a deep dive in looking at several types of data sources in aggregate in order to give us a better snapshot as to who the clinician is, who is really that essential part of that treatment consideration and in that prescribing. So our, POCN looks at aggregated data. We have a proprietary data set which includes a third-party payer data, patient data, and prescribing data and an aggregate is able to re-attribute or reassign those activities back to the clinician who’s actually originating it rather than having the physician again taking credit. And I think I shared with you earlier on that early in my career, when I was a drug rep with Parke Davis, which is now part of Pfizer, I was carrying Lipitor in my bag and I will never forget I went to what, at least in my targeting records, was considered the highest prescribing cardiovascular statin user in my territory and tried really hard to get a hold of him because I wanted him to be a part of a speaker program. And when I finally spoke to him, he said, You know, Linda, I’m sorry. I spent all my time doing procedures, doing stents, and open heart surgeries. If you want to talk to the person who’s writing the scripts and doing follow-up care, that’s my PA. And I was shocked, I thought, how on earth did they give me this wrong data? I mean, I work for a huge company, right? You would think that they had the tremendous insight into who the right targets were. And really throughout my career, I’ve seen this working in various disease states, oncology, women’s health, you know, and most recently in aesthetic medicine, that a good proportion of say over 50% of the clinicians who are making the decisions, who are actually administering or prescribing the products, are nurse practitioners and physician associates.

Andreea Borcea:
Yeah, incredible, and it just shows you how archaic the system is that you didn’t have this data because it wasn’t that long ago for you to have that data, and there’s still so much room for data to move in the medical field.

Linda García:
There is, and in many other consumer products, there is so much data that’s available from consumer purchasing. For example, think about how Amazon kind of crazily is able to predict what it is that you want based on your purchasing behavior. Well, a lot of that data is not so readily available. Part of it appropriately so because of HIPAA rules, but part of it is just because I think the regulations from state to state vary with regard to NP-PA autonomy, and that is in some states there’s still a requirement of quote unquote, oversight by a physician. Now, some people interpret that as, well, the physician must be making the decisions and the nurse practitioner or PA needs to follow the physician’s direction, that’s not the case. And if you think about the economics of it, it makes a lot of sense, right, Andreea? I mean, if you are like that physician I spoke to before who is doing these high-cost procedures like open heart surgery and stents, you’re probably going to want to focus in on that and allow your NP or PA to do the follow-up care and the prescribing, right? It makes economic sense to do that. Well, we’ve seen since the pandemic that there is a physician shortage. And one dynamic that we continue to see today is that the temporary uplift of restrictions on NPs and PAs to practice autonomy doesn’t seem to be reversed. In other words, we’ve seen such great results from the NP-PA community and being able to step up to the plate and show that they’re able to practice independently and practice very similarly to their physician counterparts, that it just makes sense to continue to allow the NPs and PAs to practice autonomously, even though it’s post-pandemic. And this is really important too, because there are a lot of healthcare deserts, as we hear, right? Places both in urban and rural areas where patients just really can’t get to a physician or can’t get to a physician quickly enough, right? So in order to address that gap, we really do need to improve the access of NPs and PAs to take care of patients. So that is, I think, a trend, what we thought was a trend, which is not going away. In fact, if anything, NPs and PAs will continue to have greater autonomy and the ability to practice. The other thing that we saw as a result of the pandemic and is not going away is this concept of no-see representatives. So during the pandemic, many of these offices again weren’t seeing any representatives, practices were beginning to understand that maybe it was a little bit more cost-effective to not allow our clinicians to mingle with a sales representative in practice. It also reduced the exposure potentially to their patients for any sort of contaminants, it would reduce risk, but we’re not seeing that trend go away. In fact, I conducted some research earlier this year which showed that still, over 70% of clinical practices do not see a representative.

Andreea Borcea:
So how are they getting the latest information that might be relevant to their practice if it’s not the traditional, Let me stop by with my suitcase for Lipitor?

Linda García:
I chuckle because I started my career as one of those, you know, field representatives carrying a bag, and it almost breaks my heart to think that that profession is going to go away. And I’m just kidding, you know, the representative should not feel threatened by this new concept of omnichannel communication, omnichannel engagement. But I do think that that is an important consideration as a marketer today, which is we can’t be fully reliant anymore on having that representative deliver that message personally. You have to consider non-personal communications. Actually, some of our research has shown that email still continues to be a very effective component of communication and that’s because it allows the clinician to consume that data on the treatment on their terms. They’ll oftentimes consume it at home, they’ll want to consume it in chunks, but email and other non-personal promotional content such as video on demand or interactive webinar series, those types of things really allow a clinician to engage in the content on their terms.

Andreea Borcea:
I like that. It does really feel like, I mean, COVID and the pandemic pushed a lot of things to evolve very quickly, and one thing that has come up in quite a few past conversations is the evolution of EHRs and how more people are more comfortable with telemedicine and telehealth. But I like what you’re kind of digging into, too, is that the marketing efforts and the sales efforts need to evolve to better use what other channels are using, right? You used to work with Bayer and Aleve, so you obviously know there’s a thousand other channels you could be using besides knocking on somebody’s front door because that’s certainly not how you sell Aleve. You know, for these sales reps and everything, it does feel like there’s an evolution in marketing. I’d love to hear a bit more about your career and how you’ve seen marketing evolve in the healthcare space. I know it’s definitely accelerated like you were saying in the last few years, but throughout, how have you addressed the challenges specifically when dealing with health and wellness?

Linda García:
You know, early in my career, and this is in the late nineties, there was a predominant reliance on the face-to-face interaction. You know, it was actually deemed to be the most effective, whether it be delivered by a sales representative or delivered by a peer in a dinner program. So dinner programs were very popular back in the late nineties and early 2000s. Well, pharmaco guidelines in the early 2000s had really changed a lot of that dynamic where you couldn’t quote-unquote entertain a physician anymore, so you’re competing for the clinicians’ time and in the past, before the pharmaco guidelines, taking a clinician to a golf event or spa was really the only time we could peel that clinician away from his or her family. Well, now it is unlawful to engage in those types of activities which are considered quid pro quo or kickback. So we had to adapt our marketing such that you’re still respectful of the clinicians’ time, but giving them the power to consume that information on their terms. So that became the beginning of the non-personal promotional tactics, a greater reliance on doing video and email as well as direct mail type of promotion. Would say in the early 2000s we saw a great deal of direct mail sampling and the delivery of promotional materials. Now we realize that snail mail is probably not as effective anymore, and now we’re in the digital age where we can so fine tune behaviors and preferences and targeting that we use programmatic campaigns, right, to really make sure that we have the right set of eyes in front of the right content, so that’s key as well. You asked about targeting and making sure that we’re getting in front of the right eyes. In healthcare, it’s not the same as in consumer care, where you’ve got the data really available and targeting is really the key. So you’ve got to really make sure that the targeting is really key before you engage in digital marketing. Otherwise, you’re just wasting money and you’re possibly going to force people to consider you to opt out of your campaigns if you’re mistargeting.

Andreea Borcea:
Absolutely, I mean, that’s every marketer’s fear, right, is that, I’ve bothered you so much that you don’t want to hear from me anymore. I have to bother you just enough that you still want to hear from me.

Linda García:
Yeah, and then with my last role at Juvederm, then, you know, the evolution took it to another step, right? Which is, we saw then the incorporation of the type of marketing that you see for traditional consumer products. Now, even though Juvederm is technically a product that has to be administered by a healthcare professional, we came to realize that you had to also create demand by the consumer by doing television ads and print ads and working with social media influencers in order to get the brand messages across. So that is also a very interesting dynamic which has evolved, which is the notion of working with influencers, digital media influencers in order to help get your messages across as well. By the way, they’re not just consumer social media influencers, we’re also seeing the development of the rise of clinical digital influencers as well.

Andreea Borcea:
Yeah, there’s a lot of doctors with like a million followers on TikTok.

Linda García:
I know.

Andreea Borcea:
There’s a pimple-popping one that’s exploded.

Linda García:
No pun intended or pun intended?

Andreea Borcea:
Exactly.

Linda García:
That’s right, Dr. Sandra Lee, you know, a dermatologist who has discovered a way to make the gross exciting, right?

Andreea Borcea:
It’s different and it stands out, and that works in marketing today. So where do you see marketing heading for health and wellness? And is there any sort of advice that you’d give for someone that’s either new to the field or struggling with getting their word out there in this space?

Linda García:
I think that there’s a greater need for very customized messaging, making sure that not only we’re targeting the right people, but we’re saying and engaging with them on terms that they want to be engaged in, and that they’re receiving the type of message that they find is relevant to what they’re using. For example, I have heard from some of our clinicians, particularly the ones that are in primary care, that it is so difficult to keep up with hundreds of different guidelines covering all of these different disease states. So imagine your primary care clinician, you’re having to keep up on top of guidelines for colon cancer, endocrinology, cardiology, you name it. It’s just a lot. So the response back was, Hey, can you come up with a solution where a primary care clinician, or just a general clinician, just go in, take a deep dive, and get content that’s curated by their peers who are specialists in that area, and only consume those relevant topics, or those relevant guidelines, or those relevant ideas, that it’s going to make me effective as a clinician. We came up with a product that really filled a niche that wasn’t there, and that is Centers of Excellence. It was the first of its kind created by NPs and PA specialists who are currently practicing for their NP-PA clinical peers. And this was huge because I’ve heard from some of our faculty members, for example, that no one has before allowed peers to curate content, which they feel is relevant. Oftentimes there’s an ulterior motive when clinicians are consuming content, right? Usually, the portal that they’re going to has contacted, it’s been curated by a medical publisher or by a pharma company, and it’s not really fair balanced and let alone not really relevant to them. So it is really, really important to understand your target audience and making sure that what is pulled together for them to consume is really going to be relevant. And the way to do that is to get their peers, people who they respect, people who they would go to if they had the time and bandwidth to pick up the phone and call them, you know, put them and put that in a digital format where they could easily consume it.

Andreea Borcea:
And I love what you did there, because I think across a lot of channels we’re seeing more of this grassroots community-style marketing. And it sounds like just as well in health and wellness as any other field, you need that community feeling. You need that sense of, I trust my peers and if this is where we’re going, we can communicate effectively there. I love that you saw that gap. Well, perfect, Linda, I wanted to thank you so much for being on this. This was a brilliant conversation, I had so much fun. So if anyone wants to learn more about POCN, where should they go?

Linda García:
Sure, if anyone is interested in learning more about POCN or about the NP-PA data, clinician targeting, or the NP-PA Centers of Excellence that I mentioned, they can visit POCNGroup.com. That’s P O C N G R O U P .com.

Andreea Borcea:
Wonderful, once again, this is Linda García, Senior Vice President of Marketing at POCN, and I’m your host, Andreea Borcea, and thank you so much for joining us for another episode of Marketing Mondays.

Andreea Borcea:
Thanks again for listening to Marketing Mondays. If you have any marketing questions at all, feel free to reach out to me directly at DiaCreative.com. That’s D I A Creative.com.

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Things You’ll Learn:

  • Over 50% of the clinicians who are making the decisions, administering, or prescribing the products are nurse practitioners and physician associates.
  • Regulations vary from state to state regarding NP-PA autonomy. 
  • In some states, there’s still a requirement for some oversight by a physician.
  • Emails are a very effective component of communication as it allows clinicians to consume the message content on their terms.
  • It is unlawful to engage in marketing activities that are considered quid pro quo or kickback.
  • Understanding the target audience and their behaviors are key before you engage in digital marketing.

Resources:

  • Connect and follow Linda García on LinkedIn
  • Follow POCN on LinkedIn.
  • Visit the POCN Group Website!
  • Explore the POCN Website!
  • Visit the Dia Creative Website for solutions to any of your marketing needs.