Ryan TrueHealth, working with our Insights Group, recenlty completed a quantatative study called the Patient Power Study. The point of the study was to figure out what sources people use,and trust and then why they do so, when making healthcare decisions. We kept it broad because we wanted to challenge a basic reality of pharma and biotech patient marketing: a focus on channels as siloes and one-dimensional communciations that focus on features/benefits, but not the real end-result of what a treatment can deliver — a richer life.
Our thesis: it is not about channel, it is about surrounding the patient, it is integrating channels using the right "influencers" to help move people along a decision continuum.
What did we learn from the study? Well, many things, a few surprising, a few not surprising — but the biggest of all, was that asking 10,000 patients across six disease states did not deliver major differences in their decision-making sources. It was as if the human condition trumped any specific medical condition.
So, patients tells they trust "Experts" first. Duh, one could say — but the reality is, that may be their best source, but it is also thier most dwindling source interms of time and effectiveness. Guideline Reports published a study (Summer 2007) that had physicians reporting they spend on average 4-8 minutes with a patient. And we all know that doctors have a sort-of script in their head for what they want to accomplish in that short time, and the patient may only recall half or less of what is said.
Second on the list of sources was "Peer/Spouse/Co-worker." Well, once again, the lack of time spent with doctors, the lack of trust towards medicines and the insecurity people feel towards side effects (i.e. Chantix…http://pharmalive.com/news/index.cfm?articleID=507027&categoryid=9&newsletter=1)and their hatred of feeling sick, all cascade naturally to creating a need for assurance from a someone like them.
The need is clear; the gap is clear, but is anyone paying attention to the opportunity? From a Relationship Marketing perspective, brands should be focusing more budget and effort on acquisition into e-CRm programs that are tailored by patient stage and patient influencer — we call it e-PRM, Patient Medical Education and see it as using these expert and peer influencers to communicate what patients REALLY need to know (versus pushing what brands think they should know) to create more informed and empowered patients.
More on e-PRM in another posting. It just amazes me all the e-CRM programs we see that are text-heavy, brand-focused instead of patient-need focused and then really alck any Value Proposition for the patient to stay involved.
Here is the link to the press release from Reuters: