Lifecycle Management

3 marketing experts, one burning question: How can pharma's communications help ensure customers adopt a brand—and stick with it?
Feb 01, 2005
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

Everybody's talking about the importance of product lifecycle management to maximize peak sales. But doctors and patients have lifecycles of their own—they each move from awareness to adoption at different speeds. So how can pharma communicate to customers who are at different points in their relationship with a product? Three experts explain how it might work.

Joe Soto
A: Joe Soto, General Manager, Dorland San Francisco and EVP, Dorland Pharma Compared to traditional pharma therapies, biotech products and implants can be far more expensive and complex. As a result, a lot of our clients' resources are focused on patient relationship marketing programs because patients' acceptance, compliance, and satisfaction are particularly critical factors in the success of these therapies.

When product costs are in the tens of thousands of dollars per patient per year, there had better be a patient program attached to it. Significant revenue is lost when companies lose patients because they do not know how to properly administer their injections, or because of side effects that may, in fact, be manageable. Even expensive, comprehensive patient programs have been able to demonstrate positive return on investment.

Patient programs are implemented for three basic reasons:

1. We want patients to "start right" and "stay on" therapy.

2. A new competitor has entered the market, and we want to keep our patients loyal to our product.

3. For surgical implants, the patient program serves as a queue where patients transition from awareness/ interest of a product, to qualification for implant, and eventual conversion to a scheduled surgery/implant.

More recently developed patient programs engage the customer in two-way dialogue. Many programs employ nurse call centers. But some programs now go beyond one-way calls to include proactive nurse calls to patients. Again, although that's much more expensive, positive ROI can be demonstrated.

Scott Greisler
A:Scott A. Greisler, Senior Vice-President, Dorland Pharma, Philadelphia, PA Consumerism continues to grow in healthcare with the increased knowledge base lead by two trends—access to the internet and people's willingness to engage friends' and relatives' opinions. With all the tools and information that the internet and "word of mouth" bring, understanding and developing core resources to foster this knowledge is essential for any key player in the pharma marketplace.

Dorland Duo: Joe Soto (left) and Scott Greisler (right)
Market research clearly shows that consumers and caregivers are spending more time doing their homework. They want to learn about the drug they are being asked to take, but they are also trying to understand the disease state and how the disease and the drug that treats it will affect their daily lives. By better understanding the overall picture, these patients stay on their medication longer and become the advocates for future patients. In doing so, they have altered the landscape by dramatically changing the patient lifecycle process.

Tactics. These patients create a much higher need for companies to not only understand the patient lifecycle, but to develop innovative ways to cultivate its potential. To do that, companies should develop targeted marketing programs that demonstrate an understanding of the specific patient population and create outreach designed to meet their needs and increase compliance and persistency. Programs such as patient starter kits, patient retention programs, and patient-specific internet sites designed to relay easy-to-digest information are just some examples. These programs then need to be expanded so that they include feedback mechanisms—business reply cards, patient chat rooms, and newsletters—which foster relationships with patients and make them feel like they are active participants in their own healthcare.

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