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Patient-Centric Marketing in the Life Science Industry: Putting Patients First

The rigid restrictions laid out in Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) Rules or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) say nothing about the general ethics of treating a patient with care and compassion. Yet, being mindful of patients’ needs holds the most value long-term, combining financial expedience, legal compliance, and genuine commitment to their well-being.

This article will cover the importance of putting patients at the center to foster stronger connections with the target audience, gain a competitive edge, and, more importantly, make a real difference in patients’ lives.

What is Patient-Centric Marketing?

Patient-centric marketing is what many health organizations and institutions are currently striving to achieve. Despite its importance, patient-centricity has only recently become a big trend in the healthcare industry. When it comes to marketing, it is still an unexplored area that many healthcare organizations are just beginning to discover.

Patient-centric marketing focuses on the needs, goals, and interests of a patient. In the past, healthcare marketing was largely concentrated on promoting services and treatments rather than prioritizing the people they served.

Patient-centricity turned things around, making the patient the main hero. As a result, patients now trust healthcare services and organizations more than ever before. From improved patient adherence to better healthcare decisions, the patient-centric approach has many benefits, which we will discuss next.

Role of Patient-Centric Marketing in Healthcare

The rise of patient-centric marketing can be attributed to several major reasons. First, patients now have more access to information than ever, thanks to social media and the World Wide Web. Most people start their treatment journey by conducting online research. According to statistics, 80% of patients across all age groups learn about their diagnosis online. The vast amount of information makes them more aware of their health conditions and allows them to compare available treatment options and even pharma brands. As a result, life sciences organizations must search for more effective ways to cut through the noise and better help patients receive proper care.

The second reason naturally follows the first one. With so many customers seeking health-related information online and generating a massive amount of personal data, it has become easier for pharmaceutical companies to craft marketing strategies that revolve around a patient’s preferences. LS businesses no longer must ask themselves, “Do we need to target HCPs or market directly to patients?” Technological advancement enables them to reconcile HCP engagement with any patient needs, drastically improving patient outcomes and overall marketing efficacy.

Another reason to adopt patient-focused marketing is the increasing patient involvement in their own care. One of the recent studies shows that 93% of patients are ready to share their personal data to receive personalized health-related information. These findings give pharmaceutical companies the green light to start producing customized, compelling, and relevant content for patients.


How to Deliver Patient-Centric Marketing: Tips & Strategies

As a rule of thumb, pharma brands should follow three key steps to promote patient centricity: get to know their audience inside out, provide real value to them, and connect through the channels where their customers need them to be.

Understand Your Patient

LS businesses need to understand their patients as humans, acknowledging their fears, struggles, motivations, sentiments, and cognitive biases. One way to do that is patient journey mapping. But there is a catch: they must be written from the patient’s point of view. While most journeys typically start with the patient’s first interaction with the pharmaceutical company, a far more efficient approach is to begin when the patient notices something wrong, responds to the new reality, and seeks relief by turning to resources.

Ignoring these important steps will lead to a shallow perception of the patient and a lack of understanding of their problem. It is equally important to understand patients’ actions while waiting for results or after receiving a diagnosis, such as exploring alternative treatment options or seeking information online. Such patients would appreciate useful information about available therapies or any different perspectives.

In the post-diagnosis stage, pharma companies should identify the barriers that cause patients to drop off treatment. Sentiment analysis, behavioral targeting, patient surveys, segmentation, and other methods can contribute to finding the cause for dropping off. Once they are aware of specific reasons, they can develop effective marketing strategies to improve patient compliance. One example is when a pharma company uses artificial intelligence (AI) to understand the causes of parents’ reluctance to vaccinate their children. Some parents may exhibit optimism bias, believing there is no chance their child will contract the disease, while others are heavily influenced by how their close environment behaves. Understanding fears and needs enables pharmaceutical companies to effectively engage with them, sending the right message backed up with an abundance of compelling evidence.

Utilize Patient Data to Provide Value

Even if pharma brands in most countries cannot sell directly to patients, they can become trusted experts by providing valuable health-related information. The call to action may remain to consult an HCP, but still, there is a lot they can do to generate interest in their pharmaceutical products and improve patient education. With the help of the right technology and data, LS businesses can produce relevant and useful content to help patients in their journey to recovery.

However, when focusing solely on their treatment, companies risk appearing overly “promotional,” which can repel potential customers. It is important to provide information about the entire spectrum of what patients are up against with their conditions. For example, people recently diagnosed with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) may appreciate content related to social stigma and strategies to overcome it. Patients with Multiple Sclerosis are likely to benefit from helpful resources on managing side effects from their medicine. Such content would make their therapy more tolerable, significantly increasing patient compliance rates. The key lies in ensuring the right messaging goes to the right patient.

Having survived cancer, I realized the crucial importance of having timely access to reliable information. Right at the time when doctors shared the news about my diagnosis, my team and I were developing a mobile oncology assistant that could provide clinicians with real-world evidence and valuable data up to date. My awareness of the disease, its symptoms, consequences, and treatment options helped me quickly respond with the most effective strategy tailored to the specific needs of my body. This proactive approach significantly increased the chances of optimal patient outcomes, reduced possible side effects, and sped up the recovery process.

Nataliya Andreychuk, co-founder and CEO of Viseven

One more thing to remember is that the target audience is patients, not HCPs. As such, it is critical to communicate at an appropriate health literacy level. Using medical jargon, complex multisyllabic words, and lengthy sentences can deter pharma companies from achieving their main goal, which is to educate most of the population.

Interact with Patients in Their Preferred Channels

To put patients’ needs first, engaging with them through the channels where they spend their time while also staying relevant is crucial. For instance, if patients spend most of their time on social media, companies should join online discussions rather than interrupt and try to dominate them. Focusing exclusively on one’s brand is like snatching the microphone from the current speaker only to talk about oneself.

LS brands must remember that social media is about building social connections rather than bombarding users with in-your-face advertisements. Pharmaceutical companies must offer information that helps patients accept and manage their conditions. Even if the topics aren’t closely related to the brand, providing value to patients without expecting anything in exchange is important.

By choosing the right channels and providing relevant content, companies can build a patient community from which they can learn. How do patients’ needs vary across different segments? What do they react to? Engaging patients through digital channels not only makes them more educated care partners but also sheds some light on their dreams, hopes, complaints, expectations, biases, and fears.

And if you would like to provide your patients with a seamless experience, integrate omnichannel marketing into your approach. Omnichannel marketing allows your audience to interact with the brand whenever they would like, while always receiving consistent messaging and support.

Examples of Patient-Centered Marketing

Patient-centered marketing can take various forms, and businesses that want to find the best approach for their patients should try out at least a few methods to discover what resonates. Let’s take a look at some examples of patient-centric pharma marketing:

Personalized treatment plans

Unique treatment plans that are adjusted to the patient’s circumstances are not only more effective but also show that the patient is cared for and that their needs are considered.

Follow-up messages

A healthcare journey does not stop at one visit; however, many patients end up continuing it on their own due to fear, anxiety, and other reasons. Some might even feel like the facility they were treated at doesn’t care about them, while others believe they can handle their conditions on their own. When an organization messages after appointments, asks follow-up questions, and gives recommendations, patients see and appreciate the commitment and receive the necessary support.

Mobile apps

There is a lot of space for customization and personalization in the world of mHealth apps. Scheduling appointments, checking for doctors’ recommendations, chatting with physicians, and many other features can become the ground for your future app. Such software can save a lot of time for both patients and health professionals while making healthcare more accessible.

Social media

The power of social media cannot be underestimated. Use it to post educational content, educate patients, and spread awareness about your facility. Case studies, questionnaires, guides, F&Qs, and other formats can help you increase website traffic and increase patient engagement.

Modular content

The modular approach is a relatively new strategy that focuses on breaking down content into smaller, more manageable pieces instead of always creating something from scratch. This way, you can create tailored content across different platforms much faster, quickly responding to the needs and interests of patient communities and spending less time on content delivery.

Patient support programs

Patient support programs, or patient advocacy programs, is an umbrella terms that encompasses various services offered by pharmaceutical companies to improve access to prescription medicine and provide patients with comprehensive support in navigating various challenges related to their treatment. Patient support programs can be implemented across a myriad of challenges such as mobile apps or telemedicine platforms, making it a versatile and flexible method to increase patient satisfaction and achieve better health outcomes.

There are many other patient-centric practices, such as patient advisory boards or online events, that lead to improved patient retention and better clinical outcomes. Research what works for your organization best, and follow the chosen methods to create a personalized and empowering patient experience.

Summing Up

Patient-centered care is always about understanding your patients and doing your best as a healthcare organization to provide them with the assistance they expect. Conduct surveys to gather important patient insights, develop patient-centric healthcare processes that are both patient-friendly and physician-friendly, work with healthcare marketers to find the best patient-centered approaches, and, most importantly, make sure you put your focus on humanity, empathy, and inclusivity to create an environment where people who come to you feel safe.

Viseven is a future-inspired global MarTech Services Provider for Pharma and Life Sciences industries with over a decade of experience. Viseven’s digital transformation center offers innovative solutions for companies of different sizes and digital maturity levels by merging marketing and digital technology expertise with innovation and strategic capabilities. The company’s solutions, products, and services are actively used by the TOP 100 Pharma and Life Sciences companies in more than 50 countries around the globe.

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