What does putting patients first mean ?

East Kent picPutting patients first, we see a lot of drug companies and insurers using that phrase, but what does it exactly mean ?  Mr Merck once said that good medicine will lead to good profits but today it seems that too many are focused on “selling” the public in an era when they don’t want to be sold.  If we, as DTC marketers, put patients first that passion will translate into profits.  So why is it so hard to communicate passion for patients in big pharma ?

OK, I get it.  We don’t get a cup of morning coffee without doing an ROI analysis and recommending a patient centered strategy without a direct connection to ROI could be career suicide.  But frankly we need more people who are willing to stand up for patients because when you win the loyalty of patients your marketing transforms from selling a product to becoming a patients group advocate.  If you need any proof just look at the unstoppable steamroller called Biogen via their MS drugs.

Putting patients first means..

(1) Acting like patients are with you at every internal meeting to discuss new DTC marketing.

(2) Understanding that not all marketing is going to have a direct line to ROI and more importantly having managers who “get that” without asking “why?”.

(3) Acknowledging that today’s consumers are skeptical of any marketing and that they are going to fact check your claims.

Isn't this what it's all about ?
Isn’t this what it’s all about ?

(4) Knowing that people are talking about your brand/product on social media and using that data as a source to help you overcome barriers.

(5) Providing information to payers that shows that your product provides better patient outcomes both in clinical terms and in patient satisfaction.

(6) Stopping the endless repetition of DTC commercials that do nothing but waste money and get consumers angry.

(7) Having your company invite patient advocates in for a day to listen to them and inform people what it’s really like to live with health conditions.  Put a face on your audience rather than just a number.


Putting patients first is a great business strategy but the reality is that you can’t serve two masters.  You either understand that putting patients first is a priority for youyr company or you can focus on the short term needs of Wall Street.