Patient Centricity in Pharmaceutical Digital Marketing
The transformation that has taken place within the pharmaceutical industry over the last decade, has allowed “patient centricity” to gain actual and valuable meaning. While the pharma industry has historically engaged in a brand-focussed conversation, the shift towards patient-focused marketing has emerged, starting with an incorporation of the patient even within the medical research.
Martine Leroy (Head of Insight at the creative marketing consultancy Blue Latitude Health) eloquently summarised this by stating:”Patient-centricity has moved from a buzzword to a very sharp reality for the healthcare industry.”
The theory behind this notion states, that if the real value of a pharmaceutical product is known to the patient, there is a greater chance for that product and the way in which it can be advertised, to be distinguished from its pharma competitors. It is therefore clear that a comprehensive marketing strategy with the focus on the patient is advantageous.
The informed modern-day patient
The progressive and informed patient now uses the internet in order to find symptoms, medications and treatments before speaking to a doctor or healthcare professional, nevertheless wanting to be included in the treatment process. Due to this, it is important to note that focusing on the patient should be viewed as more than a marketing excercise, as the marketing and communications content must meet the patients specific expectations and needs and therefore offer a reliable and trustworthy customer journey.
Patrick Homer, the principle industry consultant for health and life sciences, states “Patients are no longer recipients of healthcare, they are active participants” and while “patients used to listen to physicians, no they interact”. Statistics already indicate that more than 30% of patients in the UK visit their GP and put forward a diagnosis after having already researched their symptoms.
This symbolises the further changes that must be anticipated by the pharmaceutical industry, with the evolution of the sector increasingly needing to meet the requirements of the new-age online patient. The industry as a whole will need to obtain information and tools that will help highlight the cost, convenience and quality of their products. The aim for marketers within this sector will be to provide the highest quality of content that also simultaneously provides the highest value for the patient.
Patient Centricity: What does this mean for pharma marketers?
Patient-centric marketing should be created with the patience expectations at the forefront, meaning the patients’ opinions actually matter and hold power. Therefore, all marketers within the pharma industry need to begin by understanding patients across various demographics and conditions and only then, can different patient personas be created. This will drive the changes the pharmaceutical company needs in order to improve and alter its products and communications that literally help the patient and meet their needs and expectations.
In order for marketers to truly understand the patient, they need to understand not only what decisions are being made by the patient, but also the reason for that decision being made. In order to become genuinely patient-centric, the pharmaceutical marketers will need to put their efforts into understanding the patients perspecitive and their journeys and find the patients perceptions of the company, the product and the brand.
A 2014 “Eyeforpharma” survey states that 86% of pharma executives feel that patient-centricity is the key to their profitability (s. screen shot below).
Christoph Schmidt, (Head of Global Commercial Excellence, Actelion Pharmaceuticals) claims: “Moving from a product to a customer centric business model is the path to patient centricity. The healthcare industry will move into a solution provider to help physicians and the healthcare system to provide best treatment quality at reasonable cost. Patient centricity as a strategy is also the result of the shift in decision making power in the more complex and educated stakeholder landscape.”
With this in mind, the importance of an altered way of pharma marketing, as described above, is clear to see.
The biggest challenges of patient-centric marketing
The largest problem for marketing in the pharmaceutical industry with the patient at its focus, are the healthcare marketers themselves. The open-minded and creative way of thinking that is necessary in order to be successful at this kind of patient-centric marketing is not usually innate to employees with a scientific background. To a certain extent, a new company culture must be developed in order to fuel this kind of creativity and innovation in the digital marketing space.
Conclusively, it is statistically clear that patient centricity is the key to success within the pharmaceutical industys’ future. In order to accomplish a postive result, the healthcare marketers need to understand the patient and understand the patients perspective and perception.
With the patient in the focus, it is up to the marketer to convey a message that is not only comprehensive but also valuabe for the patient. In order to reach the patient, marketers must create accurate target audiences and apply their strategies across a number of relevant channels. Most importantly, to add true value and meet the patients expectations, the pharmaceutical industry needs to create content that goes beyond the scope of product and illness information.
- Patient-Centricity 2.0: Communication Strategies to Boost Patient Engagement by Sanjay K Rao. Journal of Medical Marketing 0(0) 1–11. URL: crai.co.uk
- Patient-Centric Pharmaceutical Strategies: Drug Companies Allocate Broad Range of Responsibilities to Dedicated Teams by Elio Evangelista, Senior Director of Commercialization. Cutting Edge Information. URL: wallstreet-online.de
- Patient-Centricity: The Power of the Patient. Contributed by: Robin Robinson. URL: pharmavoice.com