In 1786, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself?”
Today, the need for empathy and camaraderie remains central to patient outcomes. As brand managers and marketers, helping patients find the support they need is a significant key to success—for patient health and business objectives.
Patients have increasing access to, and the savvy and desire to find healthcare information. Rather than grappling with a new diagnosis alone, patients are proactively seeking information from others as a way to understand what to expect.
The key is to design consumer education programming that achieves greater engagement between patients and their physicians. The most important part of the process, and the critical key to success, is ensuring that start and end points are informed by the patients. Rather than gaining consensus on strategic direction formed in a conference room, it is better to understand based on direction from informed patients—then take those insights to decision makers.
Research shows that patients and caregivers have critical health information—about themselves, about each other, about treatments—and they want to share what they know to help others. The fourth Makovsky Health/Kelton Survey discovered that 90% of Americans are ready to share personal health information to help others. The Pew Internet Health Tracking Survey demonstrates that while adults living with chronic conditions rely most on their doctors, they also rely on friends, family and others with the same condition for additional information.
Three key strategies keep initiatives centered squarely on the patient:
1. Blend functional results with clinical results. Talking about the “patient journey” is becoming cliché. Marketers need to understand the patient experience during that journey, recognizing the increasing influence of patient satisfaction. Through listening, determine how patients receiving care choose to live their everyday life and place those considerations on the same level with clinical outcomes.
2. Define results as improving the life of a person, not positioning them strictly as a patient. Instead of jumping to create a new disease education website, develop and promote a highly effective web-based network of support groups and patient “mentors” who can provide invaluable informational and emotional support to newly diagnosed patients.
3. Help set clear expectations about results that can be achieved. Involving patients in the campaign design phase ensures all components—educational materials, spokespeople and messaging—will inspire other patients and their caregivers to engage and confront their diagnosis and help them work with their doctors to form a game plan.
Marketing programs that strive to be patient-centric demand authenticity—they must be written by the patient, for the patient, in order to arrive at an informed strategy for achieving the best results possible—clinically and commercially. Ensuring that patients have a seat at the planning table is a must for success in today’s marketing environment.