Maybe you were at the recent ePharma Summit when a respected cardiologist—in a panel discussion—told pharma marketers in attendance “You’re not getting it!”

Another physician on the dais concurred. You could hear a pin drop.

The underlying message was a plea for a little less overt drug promotion and more ways for pharma to meaningfully insert itself into the lives of physicians and patients alike. Consider the following realities:

  1. Two-thirds of MDs lack time and resources to effectively educate patients on therapy.
  2. Half of patients forget what doctors say as soon as they leave the office.
  3. Because of formularies, many physicians don’t get to choose the meds they prescribe.

The striking thing is that this discussion is happening in a healthcare environment increasingly focused on patient outcomes rather than treatment choices. Talk about a disconnect! In the popular blog  “Tomorrow’s Pharma,” Melanie Senior suggests a new way of thinking—an approach to offering services and support that addresses stakeholder needs along the patient pathway. Delivering on this unmet need has not only the potential to drive better patient outcomes; it also creates a competitive advantage for your brand that is difficult to replicate.

The bottom line is that brand communications may need to think a little less about what it says to its targets and more about what it can do for them. In getting there from here, smart marketers will endeavor to understand unmet physician and patient needs and to address them innovatively—using a viable HCP communications platform to help deliver these solutions.

The platform to which we refer needs three elements to succeed: scalability (includes most of your MD targets), credibility (they trust it), and viability (they use it/spend time with it). A great candidate for this—and one you might not have considered—is an editorially rich eNewsBriefing delivered daily to target physicians and other healthcare providers by highly credible associations like ASCO, ACC, AMA and the Cleveland Clinic. While brand awareness ads are the usual means of brand communications in vehicles such as this, they are yielding ground to brand digital assets that provide physicians with the value-added support programs and educational tools that can lead to better outcomes. As Adele Gulfo, Pfizer President, Primary Care likes to say, “The days of just selling the pill are over.”

There’s an obvious ancillary benefit as well. The brand is seen as a valued partner with every creative asset that drives physicians to live events, patient education and adherence programs, online counseling, formulary assistance, and audience development. The latter is promotional in nature and includes tactics like product theatres, symposia, webcasts, videos and eDetails. One enterprising pharma brand recently went so far as to use the daily eNewsBriefing platform over a six-month time period to successfully rotate through 10 tactics (and brand creative executions).

In providing value beyond the pill, the campaign helped forge relationships in a way that no other non-personal promotion has been able to do. As a matter of fact, in a recent campaign for a large cardiovascular brand that used the platform as part of a larger multi-channel communications effort, an IMS analysis revealed very strong ROI. The authors of this article would be happy to discuss the results.

  • Jim McDonough

    Jim McDonough is VP, Marketing and Customer Advocacy at Frontline Medical Communications. At Frontline, Jim is the official spokesperson and advocate for the customer—both advertiser and HCP.

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