Patient Summit Europe

Jun 25, 2015 - Jun 26, 2015, London

Build trust: redesign your company around a better patient experience

Dr. Bates’ Talkback: 6 core components of patient-centric marketing

Dr. Andree K. Bates investigates what patient-centric marketing is and how it works



Patient-centric marketing sometimes feels like the new ‘buzz word’. But what does it really mean and how can it work? Patients are at the heart of the pharma industry. We may be restricted in many countries by lack of DTC marketing as is done in the US, but patient-centric marketing (sometimes called customer-centric marketing) is still a critical component of our marketing mix.

DTC is usually a mass media approach but patient centric marketing needs to go beyond simple awareness building to actually strengthen engagement, loyalty, and adherence and deliver strong healthcare results to the patient. This means that it needs to be more personalized and actionable than the more widely used DTC approaches. Patient-centric marketing programs vary in nature but can include personalized websites, interactive programs, ads, direct mail and other approaches.

Patient-centric marketing can actually offer a highly measureable marketing activity that provides relevant andtimely information and can create engaged and loyal patient advocates. In several studies of patient-centric marketing,it appears that there are sixcritical components that are the hallmark of success.

1. Insight

Without a deep understanding of the core drivers of the target customers, you may as well be throwing mud against a wall with the rest of the elements of the program. By taking the time to understand the real needs of your end customersas opposed to the assumed needs, programs can be built around these.

Pharmaceutical marketers, aiming to address a patient adherence problem, often assume that the only reason the patient is not taking their medication is because they forgot it, so theyrun a ‘reminder campaign’.  In some instances forgetfulnessis the cause (e.g.,in the case of contraceptive pills typically) sothe campaign can be very successful. In other therapy areas (e.g., antibiotics), this may not be the case and such campaigns may be a large waste of time and money. Understanding the real reasons for patient behavior and addressing these is the core to the success of any marketing.

2. Segmentation

Most companies aim to segment potential customers based on their value. The way the most valuable customersare identified and measured differs from company to company,however. An example is Vyvanse in ADHD. The team collectsdemographic and attitudinal segmentation data among patients or their parents (if the patient is a child), then analyzesthis data to successfully focus on the potential customers with the greatest potential return to the brand and company.

3. Engagement

Engagement is a core component of any successful marketing program,sinceit makes what is being provided relevant to the customersthemselves. There are many ways to provide relevant,personalized interaction that engages the customer. Lundbeck did this for depression in the UK withtheir iCan online program that enables personalized condition tracking and interaction with other sufferers and physicians. Thiswas found to significantly improve patient adherence as well as bring in strong ROI.

The CAN program by the Topamax team for migraine utilizes telephone access for patients to healthcare professionals to answer their questions in combination with a variety of integrated patient support program options.

4. Relevance

Whatever is done, it is vital to ensure that it is relevant to the customer in order to maintain engagement. Simple customization goes a long way in maintaining relevance. Raptiva had as part of their ‘Clearly You’ campaign personalized online support based on the date of the person’sfirst injection. The program was a huge success that showed how important it is to ensure that information is timely and relevant to the patient. A similar program was done a few years ago by Organon for Puregon. Simple customization can dramatically increaserelevance to the patient.

5. Using community to build value and assist differentiation

One technique common to all successful patient-centric marketing observed is building a community and utilizing this to add value to the patient via your brand and to your brands bottom line. Lundbeck did it with iCan. GSK did it with Alli. Shire did it with SHINE for Vyvanse. Many successful patient-centric initiatives have done this. Facebook and Twitter and social media in general show thatpeople like to be part of something and that simple websites can provide that.

6. Loyalty and incentives

Building loyalty is a critical component of programs. This is often done via incentives (incentives do not have to be financial;they can be informational or interactional). Efexor XR had a program called Dialogues thathad a strong incentives component,utilizing a reimbursement card that could be used for discounts on prescription refills and other things. The program was also a channel for patient communication,which assisted inbuildingbrand differentiation and utilizingemotion-based insights to support the incentive programs. (For more on patient-centric marketing, see A patient-centric approach to marketing and Creating the patient-centric pharma firm.)

If you are already implementing patient-centric marketing, consider whether there is anything you’re missing that would have even more power and impact. Patient-centric pharmaceutical marketing is an evolving practice,requiringfull insight into the levers that drive customer behavior. If the programs start with the objectives and follow through on these sixcritical components, you should be able to deliver outstanding measureable results.

Dr. Andree K. Bates, a regular contributor to eyeforpharma, is CEO of Eularis, which applies analytics to determine the sales impact of marketing programs.

For more on patient-centric marketing, join the sector's other key players at SFE USA on June 12-14 in Somerset, NJ and Patient Adherence Europe on May 29-30 in London.

For exclusive business insights, download eyeforpharma's Pharma Emerging Markets Report 2011-12, Pharma Key Account Management Report 2011-12 and Pharma e-Marketing Strategy.

For all the latest business analysis and insight for the pharma industry, sign up to eyeforpharma’s newsletters and follow us on Twitter.


Since you're here...
... and value our content, you should sign-up to our newsletter. Sign up here

Patient Summit Europe

Jun 25, 2015 - Jun 26, 2015, London

Build trust: redesign your company around a better patient experience