One thing patients want, it appears, is access to support.
If it seems like we are always asking ourselves this question, that’s probably a good thing. All relationships require nurturing and regular self-examination. The only way to create strong partnerships is to ask ourselves now and then what we’re contributing and whether or not it is what the other party in the relationship is truly seeking.
So what do patients want from pharma? The obvious answer is, of course, effective and safe treatment. That never has and never will change. But a recent study from Manhattan Research has me thinking about what else patients are seeking from pharma.
Patients want support
One thing patients want, it appears, is access to support. Thirty percent of online consumers with a chronic condition and 38 percent of caregivers are interested in registering for a patient support program, according to the Manhattan Research study. These programs appear to be working, since 75 percent of online consumers who used online pharma patient support programs said they feel confident the prescription they have is right for them or those they take care of because of these services. The most popular features mentioned by the 6,607 US adults in the study were financial assistance, meal plans and recipes, tools to track and manage a condition and a registered nurse hotline. Read More
this infographic expresses the key points in a way that's appealing to the target patient audience
In the past year, the use of infographics has exploded. In fact, there are entire websites and search engines devoted to them. If you aren’t sure what I mean by the term “infographic,” I’m referring to graphically interesting representations of data. Ideally, infographics (short for information graphics) present complex information in an easy-to-understand visual format. If you’d like to learn more, here’s a post on the history of infographics.
Nonprofit organizations have used infographics to increase awareness of diseases ranging from pancreatic cancer to lupus. I also found a lot of interactive agencies, design companies and newspapers creating wonderful infographics to explain health topics. The FDA even uses them. Here’s one explaining cholesterol and another on understanding generic drugs. But I only found one pharmaceutical company using them.
Empowered patients are a driving force behind the development of therapies for rare disease, which is analogous to the future of healthcare as we move toward personalized medicine with the focus on the patient at the center
On February 9, I had the opportunity to speak at The Economist Pharma Summit 2012 in London. I was invited to join a panel discussion, “Putting the Patient at the Center,” along with Theresa Heggie from Shire HGT, Patrick Flochel from Ernst & Young, and Dominique Limet with ViiV Healthcare. The session was moderated by The Economist Science Editor Geoffrey Carr.
Billed as the strategic event for the pharmaceutical industry, each year the Pharma Summit brings together industry experts and thought leaders to identify trends that have the potential to transform the industry, and to hear from established players and new entrants who are completely changing the game. Keynote speakers at this year’s event included C-suite leaders from AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Takeda Pharmaceuticals International and the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). PharmaPhorum recapped the event with some highlights in a recent blog post.
Transformation of Big Pharma
From my perspective, I saw the Pharma Summit as testament to the monumental shift that’s taking place in the pharmaceutical industry. To a large degree, the business model that facilitated the growth of pharma for nearly 100 years has run its course. The approach that proved successful in the past relied on discovering an antibiotic or protein to treat a specific disease. Once discovered, pharma mined every possible application for the drug; and at this point, most of these avenues have been “mined out.”
nurses have a very favorable attitude to the role of the internet in patient care, and are highly likely to recommend websites to patients
I admit I’m partial to nurses since my mom, aunt, sister-in-law and cousin are all RNs (registered nurses). My sister is now a Nurse Practitioner, which means she has prescribing power! But outside of my personal interest, why should pharmaceutical marketers pay attention to nurses? A couple of recent studies remind us of their importance.
Nurses Impact Treatment Decisions
A Manhattan Research study, Taking the Pulse Nurses, surveyed 800 RNs and advanced practice nurses (RN who has completed graduate training as a clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, nurse-midwife or nurse practitioner.) They learned 50% of nurses feel that they influence the treatments that patients end up following. With physicians spending less and less time with patients, nurses play an increasingly key role.
Nurses Educate Patients
Nurses strongly support patient education. The Manhattan Research survey also showed nurses have a very favorable attitude to the role of the internet in patient care, and are highly likely to recommend websites to patients – significantly more so than physicians. Brand marketers should learn the type of websites to which nurses are sending their target patients in order to be there with product messages. Pharmaceutical companies can provide comprehensive patient education websites and tools, and offer these as resource to nurses. This is an effective tactic for rare diseases where good information is scarce. Read More
New research shows that patients turn to search engines for health and medication information, and no longer just rely on physicians.
About.com surveyed 1,321 people via their site and the chart below shows the actions taken right after diagnosis. Compared to the survey last year, the numbers of patients who use a search engine to research the prescribed drug before getting it filled has risen from 12% to 30%.
When you search a popular drug on Google the first result is now from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Google launched this new feature on June 21, 2010.
If you aren’t familiar with search results, at the very top and side are Paid Search ads (Pay Per Click). Below and in the middle are the natural search engine results where Google has started inserting the NIH in the first slot.
Now when you search the generic or brand name of a popular prescription or over the counter medication you get a pill icon and a box that provides a brief description and links to side effects, instructions, etc. The links all take you to the NIH site where the information appears to be licensed from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
Here is what you’ll see if you search Advil.
Why It Matters
When I raised this topic the other night during the pharma social media and marketing tweetchat (#SocPharm), people generally thought it was a good idea. They liked the fact that the top result was a credible, trusted source that would steer searchers in the right direction. I disagreed because I don’t like to see Google making editorial decisions and I’d prefer Google to be like Switzerland. Read More
pharma’s social media adoption is growing geometrically – we’re in the Tornado
At the end of last year, I predicted to anyone who would listen that we would cross the chasm of social media in the pharma marketing industry in 2010. Unfortunately, I didn’t make time to do a blog post about it then and now it’s come to fruition. Nonetheless, it’s important to assess where we are (and I want to get this post out of my head).
Back in the go-go days of the Internet bubble (mid to late 1990s) a must-read business book was Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey Moore. Moore’s basic premise was that high technology product companies could begin to grow rapidly by selling to a small base of visionary customers but that the market would then flounder in reaching the mainstream as those customers have vastly different reasons for buying and would therefore not be influenced by the early adopters.
Siren’s very own Tanika Craig, Account Supervisor, was honored by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) as a 2010 Rising Star.
If you don’t know about the HBA, it’s an nonprofit organization “committed to helping women in health care, across all areas of functional expertise, achieve their leadership goals at every stage of their career.” They have chapters all over the world and host educational events. If you are a woman working in pharma I highly recommend checking it out, especially for the valuable networking opportunities.
Tanika received her award at the 21st annual Women of the Year lunch in NYC on May 6 where more than 2,000 people gathered to celebrate women in health care. I took this opportunity to ask her about what makes a leader and was struck most by one thing Tanika said: “Always be gracious.”
Thanks to RealAge, affiliated pharmaceutical companies can segment potential customers and target them with (hopefully) relevant information.
RealAge is a popular, free online test for those who dare to learn their biological age. The basic concept of RealAge is that your true biological age may not be the same as your chronological or calendar age. In other words, you may be 35 years old but depending on a number of factors, your body may work like a 25 or 55 year old.
Here’s how it works. RealAge asks you series of questions about your lifestyle and family history. It then determines your biological age based on your answers to these questions. The test is designed to make you aware of factors that can affect your health and ultimately help you be healthier. It’s actually a great concept and has even been featured on Oprah. After all, it must be great if Oprah supports it, right?
The sites that stray from the formula and try to do something a little different seem to stand out and, through their individuality, seem to say that they’ll provide their own unique brand of care and trust.
PJ Macklin, interactive designer at Siren Interactive, contributes this essay:
In an industry in which consumer trust is so important, niche pharmaceutical web designers are in a bit of a pickle: how does one go from making a faceless pharmaceutical corporation look like one that truly cares about each and every patient’s health and well being?As a graphic designer who works with niche pharmaceutical websites, there are a few things I’ve noticed that act as roadblocks to achieving this task.While other industries are free to use compelling photographs, flashy graphics andillustrations, and deal-sealing testimonials, pharma is not only limited by regulatory institutions but also by their need to convey trust, reliability, and support to the patients and doctors considering their product or therapy.If it sounds a little bit like walking on eggshells, that’s because it is; design in the pharmaceutical world is so conservative because there are so many hoops to jump through and relationships to foster.
There are several ways that pharma websites try to get around these pitfalls.One of the more common techniques is to use lots of organic shapes and natural colors to conjure a sense of calm and naturalism.Trisenox, an orphan drug used to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia, does exactly that.The round curves and shapes have little or no ostensible relationship to the therapy, but it does elicit a calm and natural response from the user.Does it convey a sense of trust and care?It doesn’t not convey a sense of trust and care, but it doesn’t seem to say “trustworthy and respectful” either.The result seems to be a rather faceless pharmaceutical corporation, the very thing designers are trying to avoid in the first place.
Another technique is the extensive use of stock photography.Eye contact, even on the internet, can be effective when it comes to creating a sense of trust or personal connection.Vidaza, an orphan drug used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes, has a website that serves as a perfect example.The homepage is rife with active seniors in the woods or on the beach (and also has plenty of accompanying organic curves and lines).While it seems to strike a more personal chord, there’s a sense of superficiality to it.We don’t know if these people are actually patients or if they are generic stock photo models.Nothing about them really says “patient,” which undoubtedly is the point, but the photos look a little too staged.More effective than organic shapes alone, but still, the trust barrier hasn’t been broken.