6 Patient Support Rules-of-Thumb for Pharma Marketers

by Yishai Knobel,

Recent Deloitte Review on patient services paints a clear picture on patient services by Pharmas:  70% of surveyed life science executives indicated that their organizations were moderately/somewhat ready to implement effective patient engagement strategies, and more than half (55%) felt they needed to be “extremely ready” in the next two years.

And indeed, some initial efforts by pharma companies have emerged around it:  Biogen’s Above MS, Genzyme’s MS One to One, AstraZeneca’s AZ & Me clinical education and prescription savings programs and Abbvie’s Humira Complete support program for all of Humira’s autoimmune indications.

Such patient services span many different aspects of the patient’s life, but Deloitte highlights the following key needs to address in patient services: Financial, Clinical, Engagement, Therapy, and Education.  That said, in conversations with our pharma partners at HelpAround,  we often see good ideas running into unnecessary user-experience pitfalls.

So we set to summarize these conversations into 6 patient support rules of thumb, regardless of therapeutic area.

And here it goes:

  1. Frequent – securing recurring slots in your patients’ attention is one of the most challenging tasks nowadays.  However, marketing a therapy for a chronic condition has the “benefit” that the patient has already allotted a mental slot to squeeze into.   The more frequent your services are used, the stronger the connection you would build with the patient.  The task for frequent usage medication is easier than for bi-weekly injections for instance, but the latter has a greenfield of opportunity in between.
  2. Timely – just like an effective push notifications on your smartphone, patient services need to be timely.  Does taking your therapy require travel?  call them an Uber;  does it require fasting?  find them a breakfast spot for the morning.
  3. Personalized – consumers have zero tolerance to copy-paste offerings.  The personalization bar is incredibly high and requires an effort to personalize service offerings.  Age, sex, behavioral profile:  all these are available today by companies like HelpAround, Neura, Medisafe, HelloHeart and more;  don’t ignore them.
  4. Actionable – a patient service that is not actionable leaves the patient in passive mode.   Ask the patient to claim the offered service.   They’d appreciate it more if they “worked” for it.
  5. Bold – patient services is where brand teams can go really wild.  Look at the patient journey that you have developed, and find friction points to alleviate.   Is it prescription refills?  a free Uber ride to the clinic?  what else?
  6. Consistent with your message – living life to the fullest,  sense of security, etc. – you have already positioned your therapy in your DtC communication.   If it has worked well, then your patient service offering should be consistent with your message.  If it’s about lifestyle, then offer lifestyle services;  if simplicity – find ways to make their life easier, etc.

 

What are some of the effective (or ineffective) patient support strategies you have seen out there?