Pharma Marketing in Sacred Ground— “Moments of Care”


Panorama by on January 23rd, 2014

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Why has “embedding your brand message into the clinical workflow” become so important? And what does that even mean?

At first glance, it seems pretty simple—fish where the fish are, right? Yes, but it is more than that. I believe that focusing your digital marketing efforts to reach healthcare professionals during the moments of care gives your brand the ability to make a powerful impression.

If your message isn’t reaching your target audience at the right moment—the time when they are most receptive—is it truly effective?

1) So, what are the “moments of care”?
2) Why should you care about reaching physicians during moments of care?
3) What should you consider when creating content?
4) How do you select a partner to deliver your message?

What are the “moments of care”?

For years as an industry we have talked about “point of care”—a single patient encounter, which was considered to be the patient’s bedside, whether in a hospital or exam room. While still a critical decision point, it is not the only moment in which treatment decisions are being made anymore.

Today with the emergence of healthcare reform and the integration of technology into the physicians’ workflow, “point of care” has evolved into many distinct “moments of care” that go far beyond the initial patient encounter.

There is more dialogue between physicians and patients, and physicians and care teams throughout the day. Moments of care now include fluid, spontaneous touch points in which a physician may call, text, email or discuss treatment protocols between patient encounters, after hours or on the weekend.

Why should you care about reaching physicians during the moments of care?

When healthcare providers are in the moments of care, they are in a “treatment” mindset. They are thinking about the treatment options for their patients and are often more open and receptive to receiving information about drug therapies. In contrast, targeting healthcare professionals during private moments, outside the context of care delivery, can add to the frustration of an already message-weary healthcare provider.

What’s the best approach? There are many ways to catch the attention of prescribers, but which method produces maximum results? I believe that a brand message embedded at the moment of care will have a much greater impact on physician behavior.

That being said, we need to respect that these pivotal moments of care are sacred and the message needs to be crafted accordingly.

What should you consider when developing your message?

At Epocrates, our medical information team that curates our clinical content has been very successful at developing and delivering content that healthcare professionals love and trust by using our “A CURE” guiding principles.

It’s important to make sure your content is supportive at the moments of care, and not disruptive. I believe many of our standards can be adopted by brand marketers.

A = Accurate

All clinical content must be scientifically accurate, backed by rigorous evidence-based research.

C = Current

Clinical content should be timely and reflect practice standards.

U = Unbiased

We assure the autonomy and authority of our medical editors.

R = Relevant

Content is focused on actionable information for providers in the moments of care, freeing our caregivers to concentrate on the critical data without having to sort through mounds of irrelevant information.

E = Essential

Content is presented in a concise, streamlined fashion to allow physicians access to the most useful information, cutting out anything unnecessary or potentially distracting.

While it may be difficult for pharma brands to achieve 100% A CURE, it should be something to strive for. Many messages start off simple, but can easily snowball during the content development process and because of regulatory constraints. But the closer your message is to achieving this goal, the easier it will be for prescribers to consume and retain that message.

Finally, how do you select a partner to deliver your message?

Any potential partner must have 1) the ability to distribute content within a physician’s workflow (i.e., via an EMR or other decision support tools); and 2) have a network of highly engaged physicians who use the tool during moments of care.

Some questions to ask your partner:

  • Do they have the ability to segment your messaging with advanced targeting so that you are getting the right message to the right physician?
  • Will they share network usage metrics?
  • Will they share physician level data so you can optimize future marketing campaigns?

We are truly entering a new frontier in pharma marketing. We are able to get our digital messages embedded at the moments of care. But with great power, comes great responsibility. Remember, there is a fine line between being supportive in this sacred moment and frustrating your prescriber.

Next month, I will be discussing the importance of proving a drug’s long-term economic impact in a world of emerging ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) where every healthcare dollar spent is an opportunity to save. Until then, I welcome comments.

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