Sustaining Patient Centric Marketing in a Digital World
A few years ago, patient centricity was all the buzz – and to some extent, it still is. The concept remains popular among all healthcare stakeholders – pharmaceutical, payers, regulators, providers, patient advocates.
But, what does patient centricity really mean? Has this buzzword been adopted as an organizational initiative internally? How is it communicated externally? And how does it translate to digital marketing?
Healthcare is the most intimate, private aspect of our lives. It requires a human connection, empathy, and sympathy. So, while stakeholders certainly play a role in the journey, patients are ultimately the end user, and the end goal is to improve their outcomes.
With the technological world taking over, though, we need to adjust accordingly and find ways to still deliver a personalized, intimate experience to patients – just on the digital stage. This means anything you communicate needs to be patient-centric, showcasing improved outcomes and lower readmission rates as outlined in “Participative Medicine – The Basics of Patient Engagement” from Mark Stevens, Chief Commercial Officer at Publicis Health.
A study from DIA, a professional community and knowledge exchange for global healthcare product developed, found that 65% of pharma and biotech companies have budgeted and are investing in patient-centric initiatives in drug development. In drug development specifically, “reported benefits [of patient-centric initiatives] include reduced screen failure rates, faster patient recruitment, improved subject retention, reduced protocol amendments, and a greater number of patient relevant endpoints.”
The proof is in the pudding. An effective marketing strategy that’s patient-focused and provides human-to-human communication is attainable.
Here are four patient-centric initiatives, each with a examples of execution by way of your website and/or digital marketing.
Examples of Patient-Centric Initiatives
1. Patient advisory panels and focus groups
Patients in general should have a place to go when they have questions, concerns or just want to learn more. Patients who are giving their time should be given a token of thanks too. So, as they sit on advisory panels and participate in focus groups, listen to their needs and challenges. Give them a dedicated place to find everything they need – educational and support materials related to their biggest obstacles, answers to questions, an outlet for open communication, etc. They’re helping you, so be considerate of what they need in return.
2. Social media and online engagement
On social media, keep it real. The conditions you research and develop drugs for affect patients and caregivers every single day. They have frustrations, they feel hopeless, and they might be desperate for answers. So ask the right questions, be open to their questions, and continue to let them know their voice is being heard.
3. Patient counseling and education
Technology allows us to be available in ways, and at times, that were never possible in the past. Patient education can happen right on your website with functionality like online chat or feedback systems. This let patients know there’s someone who cares about their issues, questions, or concerns and is available to get them the answers they need.
Your website can be patient-centric in other ways too. A site architecture and navigation that’s easy to navigate and minimizes roadblocks is ideal. In addition, design and creative treatments that are calming and soothing show you have patients’ best interests in mind.
Rule of thumb – put yourself in the shoes of a patient and strive to make their lives easier.
4. Advocacy group support and involvement
When it comes to combatting a disease and improving the lives of people living with certain diseases, conditions, or disabilities, patient advocacy organizations are the ones working toward progress. Provide these groups with a place online to congregate and easily access support materials to carry out their mission. This can be either on your main website or a microsite dedicated to their mission.
Sharing educational resources and support materials can reiterate commitment to improving the lives of patients and caregivers alike.
Connecting the dots
Most companies have attempted patient-centric initiatives, but only a 1/3 have reported any success. Which begs the question: Where is the disconnect?
These days, everything is online. If your patient-centric initiatives aren’t accurately represented on your website, social media platforms, or through your digital advertising efforts, then they’re not making much of a difference.
First, define what patient-centricity means for your organization. Then, connecting the dots between offline and online initiatives is a first step to bridging the gap.
If you have ways you’ve seen success, share them in the comments section below. If you’re looking for help, contact us to start connecting the dots.