Engaging health seekers

sooner-or-laterPOST SUMMARY: Sooner or later biopharma marketers are going to have to engage health seekers to provide value beyond posted static information.  It’s not going to easy and there are sure to be some bumps along the way, but it’s the only way for DTC marketing to stay relevant.

This weekend my wife, who is a PharmD, got a call from a one of her friends asking which drug to take for a health problem she has.  It seemed that this college educated woman spent a lot of time online reading information on the pro’s and cons of different drugs, but she was really confused about which therapy was the best choice.  I wonder how many times in conversations like these are taking place in an era of information overload.

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ComScore clearly shows that people are going to biopharma drug sites but the real question is how many patients are making decisions based on the information they find in those sites and are drug companies doing enough to help patients get the answers they really need?

We would like to think that the traditional model of gathering information and asking your doctor for an Rx is still valid, but what I have found in research is that a lot of patients are making choices without input from their doctors.  They are making decisions based on cost, but what is more telling they are also making decisions based on the drug’s side effects vs quality of life.  Just search Twitter for MS or MS treatments and read the discussions going on about the various treatments available.  What we don’t know is how many patients are making decisions based on what they read.

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Can pharma engage patients?  The answer to that is yes.  Biogen does it through some dinner meetings where MS patients can listen to other MS patients talk about therapy options as well as thought leaders, but Biogen has an advantage because they are not considered big pharma.  As pharma companies continue to get bigger via mergers and acquisitions the challenge is going to be finding ways to engage health seekers at the moment of choice.  We need to see more programs to engage patients and more importantly learnings on how these programs made a difference.