KEY TAKEAWAY: All patients, who are dealing with health issues, are engaged patients. It’s a mistake, however, to believe that they want to be engaged every day and through reminders. As with the Internet patients chose when and how they want to be engaged.
An MS patient recently contacted me to complain about a biotech company that was “reminding her” she had MS. “The last thing I need, when I’m having a good day, is to get an email about a seminar of MS” she said.
We keep hearing about patient engagement, but the definition of patient engagement is pretty much defined by the patient, not the drug company . Patients often don’t want text reminders for compliance or “tips” on how to manage their health because it reminds them that they have health problems. So what is patient engagement?
First, it’s important to understand that, to a certain extent, all patients are engaged. Second, the level of that engagement very much depends on the health condition they have to manage. For example, MS patients, according to past research I was part of, want to better understand how MS and quality of life go together. They want to know about new treatments in development, but they don’t want reminders that they have MS. Diabetes patients don’t want reminders that they have to constantly watch what they eat.
So where does this leave DTC marketers?
1ne: If you’re implementing a CRM program, ensure that your audience has the option to determine how often they are contacted.
2wo: Patient engagement by life cycle is essential . Newly diagnosed patients have different needs than caregivers.
4our: Listen to your audience via social media and respond with content that’s on their mind. A great example is the increased costs of co-pays. I just finished an analysis of social media to get top of mind discussions and learned that the increase in co-pays is troubling to a lot of people yet I have yet to see one pharma site with tips on how to better manage higher health insurance costs.
5ive: Finally, THINK like a patient. If you just found you had MS what would you want to know and where would you turn for resources?