Over the course of the last several years, pharma companies have tailored their messaging and services to revolve around patients and their experience. But a crucial group gets overlooked when drugmakers center their efforts squarely on patients: Caregivers.
Pharma companies have increasingly recognized caregivers as key partners in care, particularly in disabling conditions such as Alzheimer’s. But rarely do they market to caregivers directly—an avenue that may be worth exploring.
Marketers have good reason to expand their focus beyond patients themselves, as new data shows caregivers for patients with chronic conditions typically spend years on the job. A recent survey from Phreesia Life Sciences, which captured responses from more than 2,000 caregivers as they checked in for doctor’s appointments, found that 65% of surveyed caregivers had been caring for their patients for three years or more, and more than one-third (35%) had been in their roles for more than seven years.1
The Role of Caregivers
Oftentimes, in these cases, it’s caregivers who are handling doctor communications, medication administration, and other treatment-related tasks. In fact, more than half of chronically ill patients (52%) rely on caregivers to make healthcare decisions for them, and another 30% of patients always discuss their treatment options with their caregivers before making decisions, according to the survey results.
Caregivers are also extremely involved in doctor discussions, with 92% reporting that they usually take a leading or active role in doctor-patient talks. The vast majority—87%—are involved in provider discussions about their patients’ conditions or treatments all or most of the time.
A Lack of Information and Education
With caregivers this deeply involved in treatment discussions and decisions, it’s crucial that they stay as informed as possible. Yet caregivers struggle to find the information they need. Forty percent say they don’t have the resources to provide optimal care for their patients, and when asked what type of support would be most important to them, 54% ranked education or training among the top resources they need to help manage their patients’ conditions.
Caregivers, many of whom juggle other jobs on top of caregiving, also spend long hours searching for condition-specific information. Nearly three-quarters of patients (73%) search the internet at least once a month, including 20% who search online a few times a week. It’s no surprise, then, that 75% of surveyed caregivers reported moderate-to-extreme stress related to their caregiving duties.
Pharma has a clear opportunity to step in and fill an information void. By engaging caregivers directly, drugmakers can not only ease caregivers’ burdens, but also better support the patients in their care.
1. “Engaging, Equipping, and Supporting Caregivers.” Phreesia Life Sciences. https://bit.ly/3JiTKOb.