Today’s digital social age presents an incredible opportunity for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. For years, the struggle to understand evolving patient needs in order to strategically align and address them has been at the forefront of the value proposition for healthcare. However, gaining deep, trustworthy insight into the journeys patients traverse has been a daunting challenge.
Today the dynamics have completely shifted in the “open social age.” With millions of patients broadcasting their experiences, reactions, behaviors, decisions and attitudes on their conditions, treatments and providers, there is an incredible wealth of “big data” available. With this, however, the daunting challenge has shifted from a lack of detailed insight to a tsunami of real-time information.
As society approaches a complete digital state, technological advances have transformed the way people work, learn, communicate and share. And consumers freely share their opinions and experiences on social networks, blogs, micro-blogs, message boards, forums, mainstream news sites and a variety of other online platforms. They do this on practically every topic spanning their lives, including their health.
On-Line All the Time
According to a study conducted by Morgan Stanley, 91 percent of mobile users keep their device within three feet of them 24-hours per day. These mobile devices are now widely a standardization of life; people watch TV with them, shop with them and yes, make their medical decisions with them in-hand.
This ‘always on’ state that mobile online accessibility facilitates is enhancing the way healthcare decisions and activities are undertaken, from understanding symptoms and diagnoses to learning about treatment options and side effects. This, along with the all-time accessibility of mobile devices has made the wealth of information ubiquitous in the ‘offline’ world.
An Ever-Changing Journey
The empowerment patients have with this information access presents a challenge for pharmaceutical and health brand managers to keep pace with the ever-changing journey the patient (and caregiver) takes. The massive flow of information from a myriad of sources, including those across the open social universe, creates a wide array of paths patients can take towards their treatments. This wealth of information also increases the velocity of health decisions, including compliance, often compressing the time between demand moments and decision points, making it even more challenging for the treatment provider to identify and influence the decision with messaging or education.
The key to driving success with care is for these treatment providers to deeply understand patients, caregivers and healthcare providers by continually mapping each party’s journey as it shifts with their experiences and attitudes. Leveraging this insight to drive messaging, education and innovation to align with the patients’ needs (met and unmet) is critical in enhancing their overall care.
Mapping the Journey
The basis of understanding the patient journey today is mapping it with advanced social intelligence. To adequately accomplish this, it must be derived from the ‘big data’ mining of millions of daily patient social conversations. This is simple in concept, but challenging in technical execution. This is why so many leading brands are turning to advanced, streaming ‘big data’ solutions to deliver deep insights on a rapid basis of patients as well as their caregivers and healthcare providers.
In the following example the patient journey is mapped for a specific treatment option for low testosterone. The journey spans stages from symptoms and diagnosis through treatment and management of the condition. This map also reviews the patient journey based on a multidimensional view of factors ranging from lifestyle impact and cost to efficacy and compliance.
This provides a valuable view of the demand moments, decision points and influencing factors for the patient. This allows the brand team to understand when and how to engage and influence the patient’s path in order to enhance aspects like compliance and ultimately efficacy of the treatment.
The level of detail that can be constructed within the online patient journey gets as granular as patient feelings, lexicon, attitudes and behaviors at each of the identified journey stages. This delivers powerful insight into the patient’s state of mind to drive strategic aspects of the treatment from education to messaging and in turn can influence compliance and overall efficacy of the treatment.
An Intelligence Impact
Today, with advanced social intelligence, accurately mapping patient journeys has never been easier, more accurate or powerful. As compliance and efficacy continue to be a focus to improve patient care, having the ability to view, understand and influence the patient journey becomes increasingly critical for health and pharmaceutical companies. Extracting unprecedented insights within millions of daily social conversations from patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals now facilitates this, allowing pharmaceutical providers to align their treatments, education, messaging and innovation with the needs of the patients like never before.
Hear more from ListenLogic as well as new ideas about the Patient’s Journey and Social Media from Industry Leaders
As new technologies within the industry progress, we must also advance our message and utilization of the social technologies available to create a complete user-centric experience for the patient. See how you can learn from leaders in this movement at 6th Digital Pharma West, taking place in San Francisco, CA in the United States on June 1-3, 2015.
The old story used to run like this: imagine a restaurant, where a man sits down at a table, is given a menu, gives his order to the waiter, and then, when the waiter takes the order into the kitchen, gets up and leaves. When the waiter comes out with the food, he stands and looks at the empty table with wonder. But then, an entirely different man comes into the restaurant, says 'that's for me' and sits down at the table to eat. Then, when he finishes, and the waiter takes the empty plate back to the kitchen, this man also leaves. The waiter, once again comes out to see an empty table, but this time he has the bill in his hand, so is concerned. However, a third man comes into the restaurant, and says 'I'll take care of that' and pays the whole bill.
The story used to end with the question: in this scenario (which is clearly meant to be a metaphor for healthcare systems) to whom do you market? The chooser, the consumer or the payer of the bill?
However, go further. Consider that in this restaurant, whose kitchen puts wonderful dishes on the pass, the waiters drop those plates nine times out of ten before they get to the table, and four times out of five, the dishes aren't what the diner ordered... And (as has been pointed out) the bill still includes all breakages, wasted food in the kitchen, and overheads (including all advertising). That would seem a pretty messed up business - well, it would once the diners became aware of what a bad deal they were getting. Yet those numbers mirror pharma's late-stage attrition, and the return on investment of the drugs that do make it to market (one in five launched drugs repays its own investment, although as the amount of money it takes to develop a product at large pharma rises north of $7billion (by some estimates), it will go down even more).
The story is worth thinking harder about. So much focus on 'innovation' in pharma is on the ability to put better molecules into one end of the pipeline, but as the story illustrates, there is an awfully long way to go once those drugs are in the pipeline (or to choose the ones that go in). Too many drugs die in pipelines because of poor choice of path to market, and too many drugs end up underprepared once they hit market - they weren't what the doctor ordered. Whatever the inevitable risk profile of the industry, there are risks here that can be mitigated, or simply avoided, with increased creativity and diligence.
Marketing in pharma still mostly means 'telling people they want what you just made' which is a dead end. There is no more need for that kind of 'marketing' and it has only served, especially at its interface with Sales, to give pharma the poor reputation it 'enjoys' now. The Marketing the industry does need is a proper understanding of what its customers want and are prepared to pay for (which was the original definition of 'marketing'). The innovation that is desperately needed is to upgrade the market-led development of products. Marketing is dead. Long live Marketing.
The report, which is based on data from 14 pharma companies taken over a three-month peroid, found the average number of tweets by has gone up by 530 per cent since 2013 while Twitter followers have increased by nearly 300 per cent.
The study, 'Connecting the dots: Which Pharma Companies are Succeeding in the Social Media Space?', also showed that companies that keep their social networks fresh with regular updates have the highest interaction from the community and their followers.
Boehringer Ingelheim, Bayer, Novartis and Merck, stood out as as the best performing companies in terms of being active on their social network profiles and encouraging large numbers of users to engage with them.
Rebecca Canvin, social media manager at Ogilvy Healthworld, said: "We know that some pharma companies have been cautious in their approach to social media, but our report clearly demonstrates a dramatic and successful increase in activity. Social media has changed the way pharma companies communicate – it allows them to build corporate reputation and engage in genuine, meaningful conversations with audiences. For companies who want to stand out from the crowd it’s time to be brave, get personal, educate and integrate social media into their wider marketing strategy."
The report recommends that pharma companies should be prepared to have honest conversations about their brands by developing strategies and identifying potential scenarios where they can respond as quickly as possible to their followers.
The report also suggests that companies should aim to have a clear set of engagement guidelines to help manage difficult questions.
Bigger isn't necessarily better when it comes to social media. But bigger is certainly better than drugmakers were doing a couple of years ago. Some companies are actually getting it right now, Ogilvy Healthworld says.
A small group of drugmakers are "connecting the dots," according to Ogilvy's latest audit of pharma's social media efforts. They're getting patients, doctors and the media interested, delivering relevant info, inspiring actual conversations.
A very small group, actually. Just 5 companies out of 14 that Ogilvy investigated. We'll get to those later. First, let's consider the fact that pharma's social media presence has grown--a lot. Drugmakers have 1.3 million Facebook followers, Ogilvy says. The average number of pharma tweets per week has gone up by 530% since 2013. The number of Twitter followers has tripled, to 790,000. Four companies even have Vine accounts.
"We know that some pharma companies have been cautious in their approach to social media, but our report clearly demonstrates a dramatic and successful increase in activity," Rebecca Canvin, social media manager at Ogilvy Healthworld, said in a release.
Some have been more successful than others, of course. To go from size to success, Ogilvy looked at more stats--how many followers, how frequent the updates, how many social accounts, how often posts or tweets were shared. The auditors also gauged interest--how much did followers care about a company's social chatter?
Which company came out on top won't be a surprise to those who keep an eye on such things: Boehringer Ingelheim, already a leading presence in 2013, took that lead much further. The German drugmaker's score almost doubled that of its closest rival, Bayer. And Bayer, in turn, bested third-place Novartis ($NVS) by an easy margin.
The remaining two companies "connecting the dots" were Merck ($MRK) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), both of which made big leaps from 2013. In fact, all of the top 5 multiplied their social presences significantly.
Four other drugmakers have made some strides and some connections since Ogilvy's last audit. The rest are still doing the social thing at a beginner level--broadcasting content without engaging much at all, the audit showed.
It's a good thing for them that Ogilvy analyzed their successful peers to come up with some tips for improvement. "[I]t's time to be brave, get personal, educate and integrate social media into their wider marketing strategy," Canvin said.
But why? As the current experts at Boehringer told Ogilvy, the conversation is already out there. "People are talking about you, whether you're active or not," said Patricia Alves, Boehringer's social media and community manager. "Social media gives you the opportunity to engage in that conversation, to give your position and your statement, and maybe then hopefully change the opinion of one person or two."
- check out the Ogilvy Healthworld statement
If an important part of our job is to increase awareness and understanding of digital across our organisation, what lessons do we need to teach?
Pharmaceutical firms must adopt and consistently execute practices that lead to digital excellence and give them a competitive edge. Which of these firms are accelerating away from the rest of the marketplace? We found that only two—Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb—are doing reasonably well and achieving excellence and maturity in their digital capability. Firms taking a disciplined approach to digital transformation achieved higher maturity in digital capability than their less-disciplined peers. To reach the next level of maturity, firms should invest in foundational digital capabilities, develop locally relevant plans, and bridge the gaps between marketing, digital, and IT.