health-insurance1According to the Deloitte 2012 Survey of U.S. Health Care Consumers they want better service, increased used of technologies to improve service and coordination of care, social media, and transparency about performance.   To U.S. consumers, health care is intensely personal. Opinions about the “system’s performance” are based on personal, often local, sometimes painful and frustrating experiences. Nonetheless, they are satisfied with the care that they or a family member receives but unhappy with the health care system as a whole – perceiving it to be complex, fragmented and expensive.  Affordability is increasingly a problem for consumers. Though consumers do not know the true costs of services used, they are increasingly concerned about the costs for which they’re responsible – premiums, co-payments, deductibles and others. And the economic downturn had a negative impact on their use of the system forcing many to delay needed treatments, and undermined somewhat the sense of security many feel who have insurance coverage.  So what does this mean for pharma marketers ?

deloitteAccording to the Deloitte 2012 Survey of U.S. Health Care Consumers  “traditional” health care providers are trusted sources of information about effective and safe treatments. Consumers trust health-specific websites more than product manufacturers, health plans, and some government sources. Few consumers use social media for such purposes.  Does this mean the shift to digital marketing by some companies is ill advised ?  No not at all.

images“Why can’t medications have cool side effects?” Michael J Fox said on his new show for NBC.  The show is about Mr Fox who plays a new personality in New York.  On the show Mr Fox quit his job because of Parkinson’s but his employer wants him back.  Mr Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s, pokes fun at his condition but it also shows him living with the disease as he tries to manage his family and a career.  Will this show shed more light on this horrible disease or will people with Parkinson’s get upset at the jokes at their expense?

screenshot_886Many in a study by Atkearney expressed a negative view of advertising, finding it too loud and too focused on young people and rock music. Their findings are supported by a survey by the U.K.’s Age Concern (now called Age UK), in which two-thirds of mature consumers say advertising portrays them negatively and three-quarters say they do not relate to it at all. For some age-related products, usually in the health products field or in personal care, communicating the right message can be particularly challenging.  Advertising is a young person’s game, and despite the wealth and spending power of the 50-somethings, it is difficult to craft an age-neutral marketing campaign that appeals to mature consumers. The reign of the l8-to-34 target segment and the mother with kids segment is not over, but Forum members will do well to pay special attention: The agequake is easy to miss, but dangerous to ignore.

patientsTreat the whole patient, not just the health problem.  I wish more HCP’s would take that to heart.  I still see commercials for Enbrel but a lot of people have stopped taking biological agents because  the drugs didn’t work well or there were adverse side effects, including an increased risk of infections according to a new study in the journal JAMA Dermatology.  So rather than just writing an Rx physicians need to ask patients how they feel about taking certain medications.  A quality treatment that helps patients live life on their terms is what consumers want.

MillsChang11-2012While I was listening to the discussion on a conference call about some possible digital marketing initiatives for a client I asked a question that nobody had considered “what about the patients?”.  There was an uncomfortable silence and then someone finally said “do we know what our patients really want and need here to make an educated choice?”  It’s a very simple guideline but with talk of KPI’s and business objectives we sometimes forget to get back to marketing 101 and give our audience what THEY want.

CANCER-articleInlineThe Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Celgene’s drug Abraxane for use in treating advanced pancreatic cancer which in clinical trials prolonged the lives of patients by a little less than two months on average.  Celgene said the drug would cost $6,000 to $8,000 a month but the drug can depress levels of white blood cells and platelets and raise the risk of bacterial bloodstream infections and lung inflammation. 

rxtransparencyYou have the right to work with your physician or other prescriber to make informed decisions about your health care and potential treatments. This includes making informed decisions about the medicines you take.    So states the copy on the home page of Prescription  It’s a website that gives patients a better understanding as to what actually happens when their doctor writes an Rx.  Do patients care ?  From what I have heard if focus groups and read the answer maybe more than DTC marketers actually are aware.