The one-size-fits-all “wonder drug” and the physician-voice-driven model, as we know it, is rapidly undergoing a paradigm shift towards advanced biologics and outcomes medicine based on patient-centered participation. Rapid advances of technology and exponential growth in Internet use drive much of this shift.
The Inspire Inaugural Annual Survey of 13,000+ patients found that 55% of the patients are well prepared for their doctor’s appointment, 52% of the time patients are largely responsible for initiating new treatment discussions (89% ask about other treatment options at least once a year), and when it comes to making the treatment decision, about 70% of patients said it was a collaborative effort with their physicians. While some other data have suggested growth impediments in the area of mobile technologies (older age group) and financial barriers, the trend is clear, patients are actively participating in their medical care journey via electronic communication tools.
Many patients want information from multiple sources – even from industry.
The rise of e-patients
Every day, stories are being shared that features the various dimensions of the “E” from the phrase “E-patient” – empowered, equipped, engaged, enabled, emancipated, equal, and experts. Marketers now must be able to comprehend the vast network of digital information that contains what the patients are thinking, feeling, saying, and discussing about.
We are now seeing an increasing trend by several leading pharma brands developing advanced content and digital marketing capabilities such as Social Media Listening (SLM) to support their product launch. Many Software-as-a-Services (SaaS) and big data analytics vendors are now available to help process and organize various types of data, in real-time, that are relevant to their brands. While this approach has worked well in other industries, in reality, there are still many challenges in this area for pharma, with the major ones being the ability to make informed decisions from so much data (or noise) and find Return-of-Investment (ROI) from the data.
The patient journey and your brand strategy
Many patients begin their journey by inputting their query into a search engine, and throughout the journey they are most likely to return to the search engine and ask other questions. Many pharma brands partner with companies like Inspire to better understand the patient experience and provide intelligence to the brand, market research, digital, and commercial team.
Here are the top five consumer-based tools that marketer can leverage from patient-centric social media sites (by way of targeted surveys or UGC analysis) to build a humanized, patient-centric brand strategy:
- Persona Development: These are fictional representation of the patient customer archetypes that provides a model point-of-reference of who they are, what they do, and what motivates or causes them to engage with your brand (or not to). Many patient archetypes are becoming empowered and are actively seeking for information. This is especially true for patients who are seriously ill, as referenced by an Inspire member below when asked her opinion of DTC ads, the member responded:
“I would support and provide any information to any drug company able to provide me with any information on any new drug that could help me with my quality of life. Which at this point is not much of a life.”
- Patient Journey and Content Mapping
Patient experience maps can offer tremendous insights to developing the right content at the right time point for the right patient. When an Inspire member was asked about the practicality of talking to your doctor about a potential drug, she shared:
“What good is it for me to suggest a drug to my doctor, if he knows nothing about it?”
- Empathy/Sentiment Testing
Today many brands are working with various creative groups or agencies and empathy can grossly be diluted in the translation.
- Message/Perception Testing
The color, model in the picture, side effects, labels, background, sounds, and words are all integral parts of how a customer may or may not perceive the message.
- UGC Analysis
The inherent nature and advantage of using niche patient-based social media networks for UGC analysis is its privacy. 70% of online users do not use main stream social media sites to discuss health because of privacy concerns, which leaves most of the information that are available to be fragmented or possibly useless.
These tools provide a good sense where marketers can actively access humanized data that can serve as the bedrock to a patient-centric brand strategy, and move away from the mindset of “advertising” to “engaging.”
Though drug companies tend to justify high drug prices, in part, by citing investments in research and development, not everyone buys that argument.
In response to a tweet from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the top lobbying arm of the industry, which touted $58.8 billion in R&D spending in 2015, Sanders wrote: "Actually 89 out of the top 100 pharmaceutical corporations spent more on marketing and sales than on R&D."
He was referring to a 2014 report from the health care research firm GlobalData, which revealed how drug companies invest more on efforts to sell their products than innovate them. Take Johnson & Johnson, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, for example; in 2013, the company spent $17.5 billion on marketing and only $8.2 billion on research and development, BBC reported.
It's certainly true that research and development represents a costly investment that factors into drug prices, but some experts have raised questions about the extent to which R&D actually determines these prices given the disproportionate spending on marketing.
In this spirit, I’m proud to kick off a new conversation and introduce The Astellas Way blog, a dynamic forum that will feature the thoughts of leaders from across our company and beyond. At Astellas, we know that a constant exchange of ideas will help keep us looking forward.
Three Questions for Public and Private Sector Leaders
I’d like to open with three questions that have been on my mind for some time. In short, public and private sector leaders have a time-sensitive opportunity to take a step back and ensure that we’re focused on the right outcomes as we navigate this unique period of scientific advancement and healthcare evolution.
Partnerships between insurers, health systems and medtech companies as well as insight gleaned from Big Data are going to key to the success of value-based care in the medical devices industry.
Insights from Big data and partnerships among medtech companies, insurers and health systems will drive the success of value-based care.
That was the message from industry executives gathered at the annual conference of the medtech industry — AdvaMed 2016 — in Minneapolis that concluded Wednesday.
Those partnerships are already leading to better clinical outcomes, said Dr. Richard Migliori, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare. Medtronic became the preferred provider of insulin pumps for UnitedHealth Group’s commercial and Medicaid patients in July in an initiative to reduce hypoglycemia incidents that frequently send patients to the emergency room.
“It’s just a great way of linking back from a desired outcome to a delivery system that’s focused on that outcome,” Migliori said.
Migliori and executives from Medtronic, Mayo Clinic, and IBM Watson Health agreed that the move toward value-based care will continue, despite the impending change in U.S. political administrations.
“The move to value-based payment is pretty important but it’s also undefined at the moment,” said Dr. John Noseworthy, CEO of Mayo Clinic.
Mayo is focused on understanding the value that its system provides by quickly getting the answers to helping patients with complex conditions, and bringing in technology early in the process to advance that effort, Noseworthy said. Mayo is looking for strategic partners to help in those efforts, he added.
Those partners for hospitals and medtech companies needn’t be as large as a Medtronic to get new technology to market, according to Noseworthy and Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak. Smaller medtech companies can move more quickly to develop products because they don’t have to contend with the layers of bureaucracy that exist at a large corporation, Ishrak explained. If the healthcare industry values outcomes over products, whoever finds an effective solution to a healthcare problem will get credit for that, he said.
Stifling the creativity of small companies would be a “huge mistake,” added Noseworthy. “There are some advantages in being small. You don’t have to ask for permission. You just ask for forgiveness later on.”
The rapid evolution of artificial intelligence is also expected to help drive health systems as well as medtech companies to improve patient outcomes and value-based care. Experts said AI resembles the Internet of the mid 1990s and will expand into a variety of products and services, according to a report in the New York Times.
Applying cognitive value to data from a variety of sources will help lead to the best patient outcomes for the best value, said Deborah DiSanzo, general manager of IBM Watson Health. IBM Watson Health is working with Mayo by funneling clinical trial information directly to oncologists so they may determine which patients might be eligible to participate, she said.
The U.S. healthcare system would be wise to look toward the Netherlands and some of the Scandinavian countries for leadership in executing value-based models, Medtronic’s Ishrak noted. Those countries have good healthcare data and have worked in different conditions to execute value-based models, although they haven’t been scaled across any one particular country yet, he said. The Netherlands instituted a bundled-payment model for diabetes in 2007, in which insurers pay a care delivery group to cover diabetes care services for one year, according to a report in Harvard Business Review.
“One thing is for certain,” Ishrak declared. “The move is going to happen and everybody is going to have to change. I can’t change my business model without everybody here changing their business model.”
New communications technology has the potential to both disrupt and enhance the pharmaceutical industry, but research shows that pharma often needs to up its game when it comes to the adoption of new technologies.
Mobile devices have transformed how we access and consume content, and are poised to make similarly huge changes to the way consider our health (read “The mHealth App Market is at the Saturation Point”; http://sco.lt/5thWGv). mHealth revenue is projected to reach 26 billion by 2017, and the number of health apps has doubled in just the past two years. Social is also likely to have a major impact in the way that pharma communicates in the coming years. 52% of physician’s surveyed by Deloitte in this research expressed interest in communicating with pharma companies via social media.
However, pharma currently lags behind other verticals for using social media. Pharma spending on digital advertising is far below that of other industries, and it still conducts most of it’s communications with physicians via traditional channels. There is big potential for new communications technology to make the pharmaceutical industry more efficient and more engaged with it’s customers. This infographic from Deloitte shows the potential for new digital technology to allow pharma to market itself more effectively.