Putting the Patient at the
Center of Patient-Centric
By Katie Rogin, strategic planning lead
for RAPP’s health practice
“We must think with the consumer at the center.
We must be patient-centric. It’s a patient-de-
Marketers say and hear these refrains over and
over as they plan, activate, and optimize pharma-
ceutical clients’ communications and customer relationship management
ecosystems. But are they just paying lip service to the idea that the patient is
in charge when it comes to developing patient acquisition and support pro-
grams, or are they actually foregrounding the patient experience?
Patients treat pharma brand communications the way they treat the
messaging and content of any other brand: If they’re not interested, they just
change the channel, don’t click, or don’t sign up. They have choices about
where and when they get their information, and they demand – not want or
need, but demand – that when they do engage, the experience must meet the
very high standards of personalization and ease of use that they have come to
expect from companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix.
Understanding this state of consumer control, brands need to look beyond
conventional and largely quantitative modes of research that tend to generalize findings and insights into conditions and treatments. Brands need to
dive deeper into the patient experience with a market research approach that
actually better engages patients.
Why Market Research Should Be Part of a Larger Platform
Brands too often fail to take patient demands into account in two phases:
development and optimization. When developing content – from websites to
emails to direct mail pieces – they rely only on high-level insights generated in
market research. These are usually insights into how the patient feels about his
disease condition, his physician, and his treatment.
Brands make a similar error when they optimize multitouch program content and cadence. They too often look to quantitative data analytics as the only
measurement or indication for how successful a program is and how it should
be optimized in order to build on that success.
Missteps at these two critical phases dilute the patient-centricity of the
efforts and ultimately impede the efforts’ abilities to succeed.
Instead, brands should focus on coupling data analytics that measure
communications behavior with actually asking patients why they are or aren’t
engaged. This strategy provides a powerful one-two punch of insight mining.
The precise rigor of analytics combined with the inquiry into emotions and
attitudes allows a company to align their content and programs to the three T’s
that are the hallmark of any CRM engagement: trusted, tailored, and two-way.
How to Render Insights on Patients With Patients
Even though this approach may sound a bit “old school,” brands that reground
themselves in the basics of patient-centricity drive engagement and create the
most effective and impactful programs.
But how do you do this? While market research can help organizations
put patients at the center of these communications, on a fundamental level,
organizations simply have to reach out and ask patients themselves. Here are
three ways to start asking:
1. Foreground market research to look beyond it. Deepen initial market
research efforts to give brands detailed insights into the content, channels, timing, and transactional elements at the moments that matter most to patients
all along the condition-treatment pathway. This research can also help brands
ensure user-centricity in every dimension and at every touchpoint. As patient
demands are met at every touchpoint, greater engagement is generated within acquisition and support programs, and brands better position themselves in
2. Understand the “why” in engagement. Brands often observe engagement
by measuring clicks without actually knowing why a patient clicked. Seeing
patient engagement by tracking open rates, time spent, etc., isn’t enough
to connect digital behavior with real-world behavior. Instead, and using the
insights from market research, brands need to recruit patients who participate
in support communications and ask them about these connections in order to
or didn’t take.
3. Let patients tell you how you’re doing. Whether you’re developing a new
program or optimizing an existing one, inviting patients in to co-create programs is another way for brands to ensure that solutions and experiences are
shaped by patient concerns. Re-implementing the “How are we doing?” survey,
which has fallen out of favor in the industry given lingering budget concerns,
also allows patients to tell you what they want, need, and demand and can
help assess the programs they’re in.
When you fail to build engagement that revolves around the patient on his
terms, you don’t meet patient needs or brand communication objectives. By
using a mix of deep market research and quantitative data analytics and by
soliciting qualitative patient feedback, brands can better position themselves
in an industry where patient experience should be at the center of marketing
approaches. In this way, brands can have much more measurable and memorable impacts on the dynamic marketplace, can support patient outcomes, and
can make patient support programs truly patient-centric.
Master the Yin and Yang
of Rx Media Measurement
in 4 Steps
By Marc Benjamin, CEO,
Convergence Point Media
Transform mundane media metrics into
meaningful marketing insight
A classic 1981 commercial celebrates Reese’s
unique marriage of“two great tastes that taste
great together.” So does just the right balance of data and insights create a more
satisfying monthly campaign report. Pharma product managers bemoan stale
media analytics as reports fall short of delivering evidence that ad efforts create
real brand value. Barriers to directly measuring ROI – patients’ reliance on an
HCP for a prescription, HIIPA constraints on use of personal medical records,
industry-wide privacy sensitivities and even FDA compliance barriers – leave a
yawning gap between media metrics and high-value actions taken by patient
and professional audiences.
Perhaps that’s why whiz-bang visual dashboards, multichannel attribution
models, de-identified patient panels and correlation-based predictive models
create such a buzz in pitches, dangling a ray of hope for a new silver bullet. Sadly,
nary a brand has reported these shiny objects being the cure-all that kicks an
otherwise lackluster campaign into high gear.
In practice, what drives standout performance is the strategic alignment
between leading indicators – foundational media KPIs like cost-per-thou-sand impressions (CPM), clickthrough rate (CTR), and cost per conversion
– and metrics that matter to brands, such as NRx lift, growth in adherence
and even physician “honor rates” associated with specific patient medication requests.
The accumulated wisdom of over 80 digital media campaigns for Rx brands
have ingrained in me a few ground rules that transform mundane media metrics
into meaningful, actionable marketing insight:
1. Begin with the end in mind
The starting point for a media plan should be its KPI framework, and the starting
point for the KPI framework should be the actions at the destination representing
the most meaningful engagement with the brand’s core story. If it’s efficacy that
will impress neurologists, where on the website is that communicated most
effectively? Have charts and graphs displaying clinical results been tested against
a patient story video? If so, each can be assigned an engagement score that
feeds into a weighted monthly data and insights readout. Identify and set goals
for those actions that deliver on the brand’s strategic objectives for each priority
2. Destination location, location, location
With high-value actions identified, consider the likely paths your audience will
take to find your site (a Google search for dosing, comparing safety profiles,
visiting an online drug reference, reading about new clinical research in a
professional journal, watching a KOL video) and map those to landing pages that
help serve the information most relevant to the user’s likely intent. It’s essential
to choose your landing pages before selecting media placements, developing
keywords and writing ad copy. Too often landing pages are an afterthought and,
alas, sometimes they’re not even a thought as ads default to home pages bereft
of content relevant to the user’s query or referring source.
3. Define normative benchmarks
If you’re going to bother tracking CPM, CTR and copay conversions, do your
homework and have the cojones to put a stake in the ground on normative
averages. Use a cohort consisting of similar disease states in terms of prevalence,
demographics and competition, and make sure reporting reflects performance
relative to those benchmarks right out of the gate.
As to which metrics to benchmark, statistical realities dictate looking to the
leading indicators, based on both accessibility and volume of such metrics. Third
party research firms do a nice job collecting anonymous data sets in exchange
for access to rolling norms. Do your homework and make sure the benchmark
conversion metrics are truly comparable to those in your campaign. Conversion
rates should be actively managed via dynamic testing to ensure user sessions
triggered move as efficiently as possible to their intended destination – and
benchmarks provide a backdrop of accountability against which to evaluate the
4. Failure is your friend
Be ready to acknowledge disappointments and own them. One might well be
the source of your game-changing “eureka” insight. If your plan is so templated
and cautious that you take no risks, you’ll never know the outcome of what you
didn’t do. Methodically push the envelope on targeting and messaging. Design
an end-to-end digital user path with a KPI framework rich with business insights.
Only when you can see the good, the bad and the ugly do you know the boundaries of success and the upper limits of ROI.
Following these principles requires close teamwork between the owners of
brand strategy, content development, media planning, and reporting analytics.
And if you’ve been missing that kind of teamwork and that gives you pause,
consider adopting these principles to force the issue, and you’ve killed two birds
with one stone.
Editor’s note: This month’s To The Point features two guest columnists.
ELIZABETH IZARD APELLES
Greater Than One
Executive Director, Worldwide
Digital Marketing Hub,
Global Sector Leader,
Director of Business
Regional Business Director,
Senior VP, Marketing and
Founder and CEO,
MIKE M YERS
Cross & Wild;
President and CEO,
MICHAEL E. THYEN
Director of Procurement,
International Business Unit,
Havas Lynx North America;
Chief Digital Officer,
Havas Health & You