Customer Level Communication in a Digital Age
December 2015 PharmaVoice
If you look at the topics in the 2016 Year in Preview Top 10 Trends, you’ll notice a few common threads. One is digital technology, and that should come as no surprise, given the exponential rate of advancement.
From wearable devices and mobile apps that help us manage our health goals to blogs and social media sites that provide us a forum to share lifestyle information and individual health experiences, what might have been considered science fiction a generation ago is now a reality. We’re connected online, not just on computers, or even mobile phones, but also through social forums, devices, and anything else you can equip with sensors and wifi.
This technology is just scratching the surface. Each of these resources is gathering information in regards to our personal patterns and is developing and collecting our story one click or search at a time. In other words, the availability of data is producing actionable insights into customer level behavior.
Digital technology is transforming every area of the life sciences industry, from research and development through patient education and follow-up. Given the multitude of challenges pharmaceutical marketers face today, such as providing access to the inaccessible and reaching both the community at large and its subpopulations digital may seem like the answer to our prayers.
There is a danger in it, though. If we’re not careful, we run the risk of reducing patients to the sum of their data, which brings us to the second recurrent theme, patient-centered care and personalizing the healthcare experience.
Healthcare consumerism is no longer just a trend it’s the status quo. Patients want to be at the center of their care. And their healthcare providers (HCP) want them to be there as well. That makes it doubly important for pharmaceutical marketers to deliver patient-centered solutions.
The patient perspective
This is not to say that technology is an immovable barrier between the HCP and the patient. In fact, when used properly, technology has the potential to actually enhance these relationships.
Think how much better an HCP would be able to address the concerns and needs of patients if he or she could identify their journey to that point and understand their mindset based on their background, medical history, and personal motivations.
Also think about social and influence mapping and how important it could be to get thought leadership and new treatments into the hands of HCPs so that they can be informed and educated on potentially lifesaving treatments for their patients.
We as pharma marketers can leverage digital technology to create better accessibility for the HCP and patient and deliver better content and communication that are targeted and clear for the individual audience. A key here is that you can’t just put information out there and expect people to understand it.
So how can we avoid the barriers and get to this scenario?
All of the information available to help patients and caregivers make decisions about their health or to aide HCPs in discussing viable treatment options won’t do any good if that information is inaccurate or difficult to understand.
In fact, information that is misinterpreted can be just as dangerous as no information at all. It puts the patient’s health and pharma’s reputation at risk.
While this sounds obvious, it’s more difficult than many realize. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, only 12% of adults have proficient health literacy.
Think about the insights we have into our customers and their experiences. Take it a step further and recognize now that we need to transform and evolve our communication strategies.
Take for example a middle aged man who has recently been diagnosed with high cholesterol following a routine physical. We already know if he is in the 12% of adults with health literacy challenges based on his LinkedIn profile and profession. We also know what appeals to him by his search history, Amazon purchases, and Facebook posts.
The real question is to what extent will we use this information to personalize the healthcare experience for his patient journey to help with adherence, educate his loved ones about his future outcomes and treatment decisions.
The ideal communication strategy changes depending on the personal needs of the individual patient.
In an era when we are faced with decreased resources, no see physicians, and downsized budgets, we need to make every dollar and every initiative count. Making digital strategies a base operation and key player in any omni channel strategy rather than an added project will enhance your customer-level communication and put the patient perspective at the center of the initiatives concerning them. It’s not enough to have access to big data —it’s how you use that data through digital solutions that will ultimately have the greatest impact on patient outcomes and marketing objectives.