Thursday, February 7, 2013

Moving Beyond Tactics: How to Create a Digital Conversation with Patients

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 Today's guest post is by: Pete Mehr, PhD, Chief Strategy Officer, Merkle Life Sciences

Are your marketing methods “typical”, or “transcending”? Are you utilizing the capabilities available that will drive patient engagement?

Pharmaceutical marketers have developed and offered patient opt-in programs for many years. A standard approach to these programs is to spend money on advertising – websites, BRCs, in-office, in-pharmacy, etc. – in the hopes of motivating patients to opt in. Once a patient opts in, there is a pre-defined campaign that the patient receives. A typical campaign starts with a welcome message, followed by a series of messages delivered within a specified time period (e.g., 7 days after the welcome message the next message is sent, followed by a third message 10 days after that, etc.). Additionally, these campaigns last approximately 6 months, after which the frequency of communication with the patient is dramatically reduced or even stopped entirely.

And the result? On average, only 5% - 10% of patients opt in. The vast majority of patients are getting their healthcare information elsewhere.

Why do you think this is happening? From my experience in the pharma industry, I have seen certain trends - and patients now are demanding tailored information, delivered how and when they want it. Our industry, however, is offering uniform messaging across opt-ins delivered when pharma companies want to send it, using channels they choose.

Our industry should become more customer-focused in both our advertising and opt-in programs.

 • Advertising. Website performance is typically measured and optimized using clicks, click through rates, cost per click, etc. However, it is now possible to link sales data to website traffic. Optimizing the website based upon patient actions that drive sales ensures that the key messages are reaching the patient population. Other advertising channels can be similarly optimized.

 • Opt-in campaigns. Patient communication preferences – cadence, message, and tactic – can be captured via a number of sources, including websites, existing promotion tactics, etc. Once captured, the actual campaign can be further optimized based upon those preferences. This enables brand teams to deliver tailored campaigns to patients that improves engagement with the campaign and patient compliance.

The key result: campaigns can now be more dynamic – engaging patients at their pace, not forcing our frequency and timing on them. The value of implementing a customer-centric patient program is clear. We now have the ability to make it a reality. So what are you waiting for? I will discuss in more detail about how to create tailored conversations with patients in my session on March 5 in the Consumer Engagement track, entitled "Moving Beyond Tactics: How to Create a Digital Conversation with Patients." 

To view our full program, download our brochure.

Want to learn more about creating digital conversations with patients? Join us, and Peter Mehr at the 12th annual ePharma Summit March 4-6, 2013 in New York. As a reader of this blog when you register to join mention code XP1806BLOG, you'll save 10% off the current rate!
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