According to Manhattan Research, online consumers with a chronic condition are interested in registering for a patient support program, and they want financial assistance, meal plan recipes, tools to track and manage their health, and a registered nurses hotline.
So how are existing pharma unbranded consumer sites meeting these standards? In the first of our series examining these sites, multi-disciplinary healthcare experts share their analysis of two consumer sites: Pfizer’s “Get Healthy, Stay Healthy,” and Purdue Pharma’s “Partners Against Pain.” The experts express their opinions on whether or not these sites are effective, as well as describe the resources and tools they feel patients are generally seeking on a healthcare site.
Purdue Pharma’s “Partners Against Pain”
Purdue Pharma’s Partners Against Pain, is an unbranded online tool intended to help patients, their caregivers and healthcare professionals understand, track and manage their pain.
What benefits does the site provide?
Tanja Noren, VP/ Account Director, Topin & Associates, a healthcare communications agency
With partnersagainstpain.com, it’s nice to see a site focused on chronic pain, as it’s one of the most difficult conditions for patients and caregivers to understand and cope with. Since we know that it is increasingly challenging for patients to get the time they want with their physician, the measurement and tracking tools available on the site are great to help patients effectively prepare for their doctor visits. The design is clean and easy to navigate, and conveys a nice sense of support.
The site is also rich in content and resources, giving patients reasons to come back and visit. One of the more interesting pieces of content on the site is the conversation guide for healthcare professionals. We’ve seen in our own research and client experience that the physician-patient conversation is often less than ideal in today’s rushed environment—so it’s good to see that Purdue recognizes this and is offering tools to address this critical moment in healthcare.
Erin Moore, Patient Advocate for Cystic Fibrosis
The Partners Against Pain website is another site aimed at supporting the needs of patients in their community. The name of the site alone lets patients know that there is a desire to work together, to partner for better care. The site offers a lot of valuable information. The information is both educational and resourceful, and much of it is in a format that can be easily saved or shared. Patients are always searching for new options for disease management. The availability of tracking tools is an important part of that.
Patients always appreciate different options, and Partners Against Pain has provided that in tracking tools. Allowing patients to rate these different tools, knowing the reasons why some patients use one tool over the other, or knowing the value they find in tools would be a great way to offer support to other patients. I think that connecting patients to other patients through these types of applications is a step in the right direction for offering support.
What does the site lack or what areas can it do better in?
One aspect of pain management that is addressed in the healthcare professionals section—but not in the patient section—is that of addiction to pain medications. Obviously this is a controversial issue for a company like Purdue, but it’s a serious one for patients and caregivers. It would be nice to see some content and resources on that subject.
The Partners Against Pain site is lacking in several areas of support. The first is financial support. Acknowledging the financial burdens of a chronic condition is comforting, and providing access to support programs is much appreciated. There is also a lack of access to real-time data. Providing patients with the opportunity to ask a question to a nurse or another member of my community is one of the best forms of support that you can offer. Patients also appreciate having a live news feed with articles or publications specific to the topic of the site.
Simon Sikorski MD, Founder of Healthcare Pioneers (www.HealthcarePioneers.com)
Purdue’s site does a good job at providing more resources. However, instead of just listing the resources, explanation could be provided as to what patients can expect from those resources below the links. Again, inviting the people behind the resources to contribute would be a very welcome addition.
Pfizer’s “Get Healthy, Stay Healthy”
Pfizer’s Get Healthy, Stay Healthy (GHSH) site is intended to help patients and consumers make informed decisions and choices so they can manage their own health.
What benefits does the site provide?
Pfizer’s GHSH site does a terrific job as a general health site. There’s lots of easy-to-read, well-designed content that provides helpful information on managing many chronic conditions. The featured video content adds depth and interest for the user, and the site does a nice job of separating general information from the “how-to” content. The site cleverly links to Pfizer’s other general health sites as well, giving users more to explore and engage with. All of that said, the general nature of the site puts it in the same competitive realm as the other monster health sites, such as WebMD.com and mayoclinic.com. I’d be interested in knowing Pfizer’s plans to draw patients to their content to ensure that patients can benefit from what they’re offering.
The GHSH website offers a fair amount of information that I feel patients would find beneficial. One of the nice features of the website is the attention that caregivers receive. Caregivers want to be included but they don’t always know how. Often, caregivers go hopelessly in search of information, but they’re often left interpreting information targeted toward patients. When caregivers know how to best care for the patients they are looking after, everyone wins. Another portion of the website that is incredibly useful in this information age of medicine is the section called “Information to take a more active role in your health.” Patients want to be engaged and feel empowered and providing them with the tools to enable this is a positive step that will encourage return to the site.
What does the site lack or what areas can it do better in?
One enhancement that may help bring patients back to the site more frequently would be an opportunity for patients to sign up for outbound communication that alerts them when new content or new features are added. Additionally, the site certainly has enough content to create an e-newsletter format to maintain contact with patients in between their visits to the site.
The GHSH website is missing the availability of real-time data. When a patient is searching online for answers and support—and are not granted immediate access to it—they will go elsewhere to find it. Another way that this site could be enhanced would be to connect patients to other patients like themselves through vehicles such as live chats. Having an open forum to discuss topics and questions that they might have with a moderator and with each other is a way to help facilitate patient support.
In this Twitter age, having a GHSH Twitter handle would drive more traffic to the site by giving people who are interested in a particular topic the opportunity to follow the type of content the site is providing and then choose to visit the site when they spot something that interests them. Another area of information that patients often seek out—but is lacking on GHSH—is recipes and food tips specific to their condition. When we don’t have to modify our own recipes or we get tired of eating the same things all the time, it’s nice to have options that we know are safe and healthy. Giving patients the opportunity to rate these recipes or contribute recipes of their own could give them a sense of community and let them feel that they are both receiving and offering support.
The availability of financial resources or offering financial guidance is also another area of needed improvement. The constant financial battles that patients living with chronic condition go through on a regular basis are a problem, and offering support is of utmost importance. It is support that many need and most seek.
In general, what do patients want from pharma online services or how can pharma provide value to them?
When patients are facing a serious or chronic condition, they want information and guidance that helps. For certain patient groups, there’s no limit to the information they’ll seek. For others, a phone call to see how they’re doing on therapy or to remind them to refill is all they need. And while just a few short years ago they may have received that from their physicians, the truth is that today’s practice leaves physicians pressed for time—and patients short on attention. Today, patients are looking to pharma to supplement what they are—or aren’t—getting from their physicians.
What patients are looking for in healthcare websites is anything that might be useful in helping them to manage a chronic condition. Through my work as a patient advocate, I found that very few patients who visit a pharmaceutical website look for anything other than drug information. What patients with chronic conditions are looking for is support on their journey and a way to alleviate the burden already weighing heavily on them. This can come in many forms, from financial assistance to recipe ideas and just about everything in between. Having this type of information as a secondary benefit on a pharmaceutical site could be hugely beneficial to a patient or patient community. Per research done by Susannah Fox from PEW Research Institute, “Each day, more people search for information online than see a physician. More than half of the people who get this information online, act on it.”
Simon Sikorski MD
Patient communities, doctors’ websites and blogs, empowered patient blogs, mobile applications, events and webinars are the types of resources that patients want to connect with. Celebrating the people behind them would go a very long way.
Monique Levy, Vice President of Research, Manhattan Research
Emerging practice models, such as accountable care organizations (ACOs), are prioritizing patient outcomes. As a result, prescription medications and treatments will increasingly be evaluated by these entities according to cost and outcome parameters, driving a sea-change in how pharma will develop and commercialize many products. To provide value in the emerging outcomes-based market, multi-channel marketers and other teams within pharma must increase their commitment to patient adherence and condition management programs.