Okay, back from a week’s vacation in Big Sur California. It was great to have some time to clear the head, relax and think in an open way what is going on in this industry.
When I see patientslikeme.com come to life, I see a trend starting to reveal itself. The trend is one of personal self-responsibility. Most of the evidence is, of course, anecdotal, but I believe this trend is being driven by the combination of aging Boomers having pangs of guilt about their self-centered ways, combined with the force of legislation like Health Savings Accounts which are forcing them to make their own health care decisions. This legislative and societal shift indicates to me that the age of true healtcare responsibility is nearing.
The big tipping point will be next year’s debate on universal health care. It will be ugly, protracted and exhausting. A lot of sacred cows will be butchered. And for our world of RM, DTC, print, TV, online — all of it will be put under scrutiny. But the fact is, to control costs, people DO have to take responsibility for their own health. Too many people in this country are simply squandering it through bad compliance or being convinced only a brand name drug will gave the effect they need -never the generic.
This responsibility is a two-way street. Transparency in information and costs is the missing component for now, but not after the health debate is done. There will be transparency. The government will not want to give people more control without expanding what they have control over. So rest assured there will be an element of "you get to shop" put into the next round of insurance reforms. Electronic Health Records will become the norm. Hospitals posting costs of equipment and surgeries online will become the norm.
We, as marketers need to plan for this time. Transparency is a strategy, not a punishment. We need to think for our clients and brands how about best to tap into transparency, because it is one of the hallmarks of building trust, which is the Great Divide between patients and their medications. We will need to learn how to write, conceive, get regulatory approval, and deliver communications that champion transparency — we should use it! Because in the end, transparency may help in the solution to the horrors of non-compliance. If you are open with the patient, the patient will be better informed and empowered to make the purchase and re-purchase.
Patientslikeme.com is an incredible innovation. Of the 50 things occurring on the site, the one’s that really driving everything else is transparency at work among patients. Today, a website. Tomorrow, the world.