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.
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.
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.