The Path to Patient Centricity: Part IV

By Regina Shanklin

Learn more from Regina Shanklin on how maximizing engagement with your audience and patients will help increase the relevance of your brand communications.

There are four key steps to ensuring that your brand is patient-centric. If you integrate these four points into your marketing efforts, information about your brand will become more relevant, actionable and drive more patient engagement.

In our last installments, we discussed meeting a patient on their journey, being effectively understandable for your audience, and being a useful brand for patients. The fourth and final step to patient centricity is engaging with your channels and audience effectively.

  1. Be Engaging:

Engage in the channels where your patients are in a relevant way. For example, in social media, you need to join the conversation, not change it. Coming in and just talking about things that lead to your brand is like a person rudely interrupting an ongoing conversation to talk about themselves. You should provide information that is relevant to living better with their condition which the patient will find valuable. These topics may not be directly linked to your brand, but you’re a building a relationship in social media. Even with advertising allowed, social media is not simply an advertising platform. Remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of what you do should provide direct value to the patient and only 20% should be about the brand or something that leads to the brand.

It is still challenging for pharma to engage in social media from a brand standpoint. However, the 2014 FDA draft guidance on internet and social media allows the brand to only include the most serious risks associated with the drug, along with a balanced representation of the benefits, as long as a hyperlink to a more complete discussion of risk information is included. Now that Twitter allows 280 characters, more effectively communicating to patients in real-time is more possible.

The 80/20 rule can also be true in more traditional branded communication that is sent to your audience. Don’t just talk about your product; give them relevant information to tackle the health issue in a holistic way. Don’t ignore the fact that these are real people, not subjects. Include topics that are relevant to the condition that can help their quality of life, but do not infer that you are trying to broaden your indication or do off-label promotion. That can be a tricky balance that you will need to work with your legal, medical, and regulatory teams to develop communications that your organization is comfortable sharing.

Another way to increase engagement is to reward your audience for achieving goals. Incorporating some level of gamification increases engagement because it creates a fun challenge. Let them have fun beating their best score, or have a “celebration” when they hit a specific goal. This could be as simple as a fireworks animation when a goal is achieved. You don’t always have to provide an expensive rewards program.

Improving engagement is often the hardest of the four steps to do. This is because you will have to balance selling the brand and adding value to the patient beyond the product benefits. You may experience push-back on the necessity of doing this. However, if you keep in mind that your goal is to establish a helpful relationship with the patient, you will often find that a more engaged patient decides to take your drug and stays on it compared to someone who is not engaged.

I hope you enjoyed this series on the Path to Patient Centricity. Visit Part I of this series to learn more about meeting patients where they are, Part II of this series to learn more about becoming understandable, and Part III of this series to learn more about being useful to patients.


About the Author: Regina is a marketing strategy consultant specializing in marketing strategy in the Healthcare industry. Her clients range from pharmaceutical/biotech and healthcare non-profits. She has helped clients enhance the strategic skills of their marketing, develop business cases to enter new markets, and develop new synergistic products and services that significantly increased revenues. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Regina worked for Sanofi as the Senior Director of Marketing for the Plavix, Lantus and Avapro brands. In these leadership roles, her experience spanned consumer/patient marketing and professional marketing. In addition to being a well-rounded marketing leader, Regina has a specialty in patient engagement. Regina has experience spanning marketing, finance, operations and, combined with her engineering background, has helped her bring a fresh perspective on solving business problems. Regina received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management of Northwestern University.

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