Boost Your Brand’s Critical Relationship with Patients

Marc Sirockman, Executive Vice President & General Manager at Artcraft Health, describes the key elements that will allow pharma to improve the critical relationship with patients. He covers everything from creating a customized learning experience for each patient so that they are so engaged they don’t even realize they are learning to how to develop a comprehensive plan for introducing a new product to the market. He also tackles solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the industry today including the fragmented approach to marketing, shrinking budgets and how to better understand what patients want. Marc can be reached at

PM360-Artcraft from PM360 Online on Vimeo.


Bud Bilanich: And today we’re talking to Marc Sirockman, who is the EVP and General Manager of Artcraft Health. And Marc’s one of our Experts on Call, so we’re here to talk a little bit about him sharing his experiences with us and his expertise. And so, you know, Marc, thanks a lot for being here.

Marc Sirockman: Well thank you so much for inviting me, and it’s a privilege to be here.

Bud Bilanich: Well great. Hey, let’s talk about—let’s just sort of jump in right here. What do you see as the biggest challenges that healthcare marketers face today?

Marc Sirockman: I think that one of the biggest challenges is looking at the big picture. I mean when you look at it from our position, looking back into pharma, one of the keys is that we deal with clinical trials and we deal with branded products when they come to market, but it’s all the in between. So I think that some of the biggest challenges is it’s very fragmented. The other thing is their understanding of a relationship with the patient. And it’s key to understand the patient and how they learn in today’s society, and I think it’s changed quite a bit over the years and I’m sure you’re well aware of that. The other thing we all know is about shrinking budgets, and that means you have to get the most out of every dollar you spend and really contact the patient at the right time when they’re ready to learn and at the right level.

Bud Bilanich: Well, you know that’s really good because, you know, what’s interesting to me about that, particularly you’re talking patient perspective, I was reading your great article I think it was back in September in PM360, and you called it “What’s Your Patient Perspective?” And I kind of made a little note to myself here, and as I recall this is what you said, “Perspective is not only recognizing that every coin has two sides but also understanding the relationship between those sides.” I think that’s very, very interesting. So I do like this idea of both sides, but there is a relationship there. So talk a little bit more about that, if you would please.

Marc Sirockman: Well, you know, here at Artcraft Health we believe it’s a critical relationship, and what I mean by that is when you look at a clinical trial, you need to understand the site, you need to understand the healthcare provider, you need to understand what I would consider the patient, and also the sponsor really needs to understand when they’re investing in this area, they need to look at making that an experience, because in today’s society one of the keys is that everybody’s looking for that experience. They’re looking for that relationship. So one of the things we do is we create peer-to-peer letters that are easy to understand, have the right graphics on them, we give the look and feel. And then the other aspect is we make sure that our information is clear, actual, relevant, engaging, so that’s very important, especially when you start looking at providing educational material.

When I talk about the two sides of the coin, the reality is there’s a lot of information that needs to go between those two sides, and what is very critical is the information for what I would consider not along everybody in that. So you have the site, you have the healthcare provider and you have the patient, but you also have a lot of times what I would consider the caregiver, and the caregiver needs to—because they’re so dedicated to a lot of times the clinical trials—they need to understand everything too and it needs to be easy for them to understand.

Bud Bilanich: So they’re—the caregivers kind of on the real thin part of the coin is what you’re saying, but you still—

Marc Sirockman: Yes.

Bud Bilanich: —can’t forget about the caregiver there, so it’s almost three sides; the two big sides that you see and then the little in the middle, right?

Marc Sirockman: Well absolutely. Because as you know, if they don’t understand what’s going on and they have a lot of impact, they have a lot of impact in making sure what I would consider is the patient gets back to the clinical trial. They also have a lot of impact on how they would take the medication and how important this clinical trial is, not only to that patient but to others that may benefit through the drug once it gets to market.

Bud Bilanich: Well, you know, another thing you had mentioned before was your piece about graphics, and I do think that we are becoming much more graphically oriented, and it’s, you know, I’ve actually in my consolidating business, I’ve had to hire people to do infographics for me—

Marc Sirockman: Right.

Bud Bilanich: —because people love them. And I think that you guys are particularly good at that. I was, you know, rereading your article, your PM360 article, the other day and you have a nice set of graphics in there where—that you’re using to explain your concepts.

Marc Sirockman: Yeah. Well thank you. I mean the reality is back—when I look over time, you know, I started out as a pharmaceutical sales rep and one of the best things was to go in and talk to the doctor, but the healthcare provider, one of the things is information was only one part of it, but if you could get them engaged in some pictures, if you could have them touch, feel, so that’s when we did anatomical models and things like that. And then now with the mobile devices, you need to make sure that you’re following them home and then also like we discussed, the two sides of a coin, you need to make sure you also have the caregiver, other people involved. So I think it’s very important.

Bud Bilanich: Yeah, and I think this whole graphic piece is so important because it’s getting more and more difficult for reps to actually get time to spend with doctors. So when you present doctors some material it has to be done in an engaging way, and graphics leads to that.

Marc Sirockman: Correct. Infographics are easy to understand. It’s a quick—most people can follow them and in a few seconds get it.

Bud Bilanich: Yeah. All right. So, you’re talking about some of the challenges to success is like people’s inability to see the big picture. So like, what is the big picture in your opinion?

Marc Sirockman: Well I think that’s a great question. I mean I think the big picture in today’s society is really looking at when you look at a molecule and you say, let’s bring this to market. I think it’s critical at that point to say, all right, where do we see this in two, three years? How long is it going to take to come to market? And then really looking for cost savings ways.

What you can do is you can look at the right content, you can look at the right visuals, you can look at the right medical illustrations, and you really can build a comprehensive plan early on and then bring it all the way through, and as you get close to the market what happens is you create an experience for the consumers. The patients at the time, they are subjects that are in the clinical trial, and then what happens is when you bring it to market all the sudden now as you get close and you do disease state awareness, you now have a following. You have patients that have been on the clinical trial that have a large voice and you have the caregivers that had an experience and you have the sites that had an experience, so now all the sudden it gets easier and quicker to bring it to market because they had such a great experience.

It’s like you or I going to somewhere that we appreciate and going through the same—going through an experience. When we go somewhere else it shouldn’t be a different experience. If it is that franchise or that product that we’re used to, it shouldn’t be disjointed, and I think that’s one of the biggest problems right now is when you look at it, it’s very disjointed, it’s very fragmented.

Bud Bilanich: Well, you know, it’s interesting, because when I started in the business it was kind of like east was east and west was west, meaning, you know, you had the R&D people and you had the marketing people and they sort of didn’t talk to one another. And you’re talking about taking this sort of holistic approach is that as soon as you figure out that you have something that’s a molecule that might be of some value, that you—

Marc Sirockman: Yeah.

Bud Bilanich: —need to start not only going beyond the idea of engaging marketers with R&D, you need to get the customers and caregivers and everybody else involved as early as possible even while the molecule’s in development.

Marc Sirockman: Correct. Because what you’re doing is you’re trying to create an enhanced experience, not only for all the employees that are involved in this, because ultimately we want to help the patient and we want to have them have a good experience and help them with quality of life, and that’s really critical with this whole thing.

Bud Bilanich: Yeah. All right, well this great. Let me ask you this, so I think you guys are a pretty cool company and I like what you do and so what are you working on these days to, you know, kind of help the whole healthcare business move into the future?

Marc Sirockman: Well thank you so much for asking. I mean Artcraft Health, we’ve been in business for years and one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve really focused on the patient. And we’ve talked—focused on what I would consider branded products. We’ve done disease state awareness and that area.  We’ve moved into specialty camps and we’ve moved into now clinical trials.

Now as we look at it, we’re really trying to put together a comprehensive plan. So one of the newest programs that we have is called a CODE program. It’s Custom, On-Demand Education. It can work off of an app or a slate or any kind of a tablet-type of product. What happens is you can either do it with a pharmaceutical rep walking in with it or you can do it—a healthcare provider can do it themselves.

When they have a patient in front of them, they can drag and drop custom content at the point of care with the patient, they can drag and drop the pictures that they want, so the demographic area, so they can make it regionalized, and they can pick out where they are in their continuum with their healthcare that they currently are. If they’re a new patient then we get certain information, if they’ve been on therapy before and they’re having some issues, they can get drag and drop. So really, instead of having that brochure where you and I back in the day we’d go into a healthcare provider, you’d get a brochure, and you know what, at maybe 10%, maybe 20% had anything to do with what I’m at now. Now you can go and drag and drop and make it custom at the point of care what you need.

We’re also now taking it to the point where with that same type of program you can have a QR code, you can have a web-based activity area where patients can go and get additional up-to-date information and it really is the future. And so that they’re getting what they want. And I think earlier we talked about, you know, the way things have changed so much over the years, and this is really the wave of the future. You’re going to see a lot more—and with the program like that, a healthcare provider can print it in the office, they can email it to the patient, they can have it sent to their phone so they can move it on their mobile device—amazing, amazing things.

Because we all learn differently. We all learn—whether we read something or we look at visual and we talk about infographics. You can put those on there. It should be this experience where you don’t even—you’re so engaged in it, you don’t even realize that you’re learning. And part of this whole CODE program too is also for—we talk a lot about caregiver, but it’s very important to get everybody involved when it comes to healthcare so that the patient, the ultimate person, can do better and have better quality of life.

Bud Bilanich: I love that idea of being so engaged for something that you don’t realize you’re learning. I mean I think that’s a very, very interesting and cool concept. And you know, it’s kind of funny, I think when you and I got into this business years ago I don’t think—I know I never could. My hunch is you probably couldn’t have imagined yourself being so reliant on technology as opposed to just producing high-quality written materials.

Marc Sirockman: Absolutely. Well as you know, just look at us right now. We’re on a Skype situation where we’re on two sides of the country right now, and the nice thing about it we can learn, we can share information, and this is really what we’re going to see is that you’re going to see a lot more—you’re still—we’re never going to go away from paper 100% because there is a place for that, but there is this experience in learning where, you know, all the sudden now it’s reading, it’s the content, it’s the visual, it’s the experience itself.

Because we all know if we do something, we actually physically do something, we’re going to learn a little bit better and that makes a huge difference. So what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to take our patient education, our healthcare information, and we’re trying to make it so that all of the sudden we understand the disease state, we understand the way they learn, and then we give them that information at the right time versus in the old days I think it was we would just say, you know what, if we make enough brochures, somebody’s going to learn something, you know?

Bud Bilanich: Well exactly. It was kind of like the old if you build it they will come.

Marc Sirockman: Right.

Bud Bilanich: Somebody will—we’ll build a great brochure and everything is customized. Well you know, Marc thank you so much. I mean it’s been a great conversation. It’s exactly—and I think—thank you for pointing out just how we’re doing this. This is exactly what we’re trying to do with the Experts On Call interviews. I mean magazines, people read your articles, but here I think they get a chance to get a real feel for you as a human being and see your passion about what you’re doing. And so what we’re doing here today right now actually has an awful lot of what sounds like what you guys at Artcraft are doing for your pharmaceutical companies.

Marc Sirockman: Right. And one of the things as we all know, with enhanced technology, we can reach a larger audience, but not only reaching a larger audience but having the right content at the right point, having the right visual at the right time, and making sure that it becomes a learning experience. And you know, we were talking earlier too about, you know, my experience in pharma too is also in sales training and part of it is how people learn. And I think that when you look at technology we need to embrace it, we need to see the way patients are learning, and we need to have it at the right point. And I think at that point it all makes sense. So I can’t appreciate enough your time today.

Bud Bilanich: Well I’m going to leave it with that—the right content at the right point at the right time, and I think that that’s a good summary of what we’ve been talking about here. It’s been great. And Marc, I want to thank you so much for spending some time with us. Again, I’m Bud Bilanich with PM360.  This is Marc Sirockman who is with Artcraft Health. Thanks so much, Marc.

Marc Sirockman: Thank you, Bud. I appreciate it.

  • Marc Sirockman

    Marc Sirockman is an expert in the industry with more than 25 years of experience delivering a “patient-centric” approach to healthcare education. Marc is the EVP and GM of Artcraft Health, a cutting-edge marketing agency that delivers innovative, educational solutions for the clinical and consumer health markets.


You May Also Like

The Keys to Authentic Patient Engagement

Some pharma companies like to go on Twitter, find an uber patient, and then ...

How Do You Get Patients to Want to Take Medications?

The healthcare industry needs to stop using compliance and adherence as interchangeable terms. Compliance ...