Many decisions in healthcare can be very stressful for all of the involved stakeholders—whether it is the decision to prescribe a drug, undergo surgery, or anything else that may involve a doctor, a patient, and whoever is footing the bill. The fact is more analysis has gone into supporting the moment of decision for buying a car than making a therapeutic decision. As marketers, fortunately we’re able to apply the CRM practices, strategies, and technologies we typically employ to analyze consumer interactions and data throughout the consumer lifecycle to assist these healthcare stakeholders in making rational, informed, and sometimes lifesaving decisions.
Let’s take a closer look at how we can apply CRM techniques to support one of these influencers, the doctor, in making a solid decision.
Dr. Jones is a general practitioner who has a patient presenting symptoms that, clinically speaking, looks like a clear case. A common drug long-familiar to Dr. Jones would be an easy and natural choice, but just recently there was a new brand that launched with better attributes. What is the best choice for the patient?
What should Dr. Jones do?
In today’s connected world, doctors take in enormous amounts of information, ideally all contributing to an educated state. Among the material Dr. Jones might sift through:
- Her original medical education, with ongoing formal education
- Clinical data, journals, etc.
- Office practice / health system (ACO/IDN/etc.) protocols
- Field representative detailing
- Sponsored promotional material (branded and unbranded)
- Professional online information sites
- Professional online social sites
Not all doctors are the same as Dr. Jones. Some like quick (summarized) information, some like unfiltered clinical data, some appreciate collaborating with the pharmaceutical manufacturers, and some don’t like anything that appears commercial at all. When we pay attention to what our doctors are looking for, whether they are directly asking or not, we can start to have a much more human kind of interaction.
What might be going on in our good doctor’s mind as she nears a therapeutic decision?
Here are some considerations that Dr. Jones may be making:
A. “What are medically appropriate therapies?”
B. “Do I have personal clinical experience with this therapy?”
C. “Does my patient have insurance coverage that will cover this new brand?”
D. “Is there protocol that influences this decision, whether in the form of medical guidelines, or in the form of practice group policies?”
E. All of the above: “What is the overall risk or cost vs. benefit factor with each option?”
(Of course, this is not a comprehensive list of things Dr. Jones is considering!)
Let’s assume that in this scenario this new drug is, in fact, the best choice for this patient’s circumstances—in terms of efficacy, safety and tolerability, based on their medical history; and is affordable to this patient—but in fairness, the older class would probably still get the job done at the end of the day.
What is the best way for us to have helped Dr. Jones develop an informed, educated, and ultimately confident therapeutic decision?
We don’t always have the luxury of a “complete” in-person visit (or any personal promotion at all sometimes), so what other delivery channels can we combine most effectively for Dr. Jones (and other physicians that are not demographically similar to Dr. Jones)?
Drawing from CRM techniques, we can combine what information we know Dr. Jones saw in recent in-person rep details, along with what pages of our websites she has viewed in the past, some of the types of sites she visits for learning, as well as the types of keywords that she chooses when searching for information leading to our sites. In all the ways that we are able to observe remotely, Dr. Jones seems to prefer highly scientific clinical trial data. We believe that she prefers to draw her own conclusions on what are the most appropriate therapeutic choices. So, based on that insight, we can use every opportunity to offer quick links to reference data, helping her find exactly what she’s looking for.
How did it turn out?
Dr. Jones was able to see that the clinical trials for the new brand were very rigorous, with the patient population very closely matching the patient’s situation. She appreciated not having to hunt for the type of information she was looking for, and decided the merits of the new option were worth discussing, and ultimately prescribing, with her patient.
As marketers, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to help the physician access all relevant data in a format that he or she can carefully consider. Bringing our CRM expertise to bear at the moment of decision enhances that process and works functionally to help our doctors make a realistic assessment that reinforces the patient’s confidence—and that’s a great outcome all around.