Maximize Your Marketing Spend

Sep 01, 2009
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

Jay Borowiecki
As budgets tighten and promotional decisions require more scrutiny, now is the time to ensure that marketing programs deliver significant value for your brand. Vouchers and samples need to do much more than just encourage a patient's first use of a product, and consumer relationship marketing (CRM) programs have to expand beyond a one-way dialogue between the pharmaceutical manufacturer and the patient via segmented messaging.

One of the core challenges to patients' understanding of and adherence to medication regimens is lack of time for dialogue with physicians during office visits. A 2007 study conducted by Tai-Seale showed that as a result of the high volume of patient visits per physician, the average length of a doctor's office visit is just 15.7 minutes, with only 5.3 minutes spent on a primary complaint. A 1999 AMA study revealed the average patients seen per week per family physician to be 122.9, which works out to at least three patients per hour for a 40-hour work week (not including the hours spent on the administrative tasks needed to run a practice). And that number has probably gone up in the last 10 years.

Supplement the Dialogue

Patient feedback programs help to supplement patient–physician dialogue by providing a tool to facilitate communications between office visits. Patients complete surveys about their experiences with treatment regimens at set intervals (timing dependent on the condition being treated); the resulting reports give physicians a view of their patients' treatment challenges, including identifying any barriers to medication adherence. The physician and patient can then work together to meet those challenges and strive toward more successful treatment outcomes. By continually checking motivation and confidence levels through surveys, as well as verifying patient understanding about a medication, potential barriers can be circumvented.

These programs can also help develop positive relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and physicians. Physicians appreciate getting new information about their patients, and will typically incorporate reports into their patients' medical records. In addition, the content of the patient feedback reports can rapidly accelerate physician understanding of a product, thereby increasing confidence in that product and leading to subsequent prescribing.

More than a year ago, a large pharmaceutical client approached a major mental health category brand launch with a determination to deliver intelligent, timely messages to consumers, patients, and physicians. Using a Web-like communications platform for patient starter kits, a CRM program, vouchers, and an integrated patient feedback program throughout, the campaign was designed to create a more significant and meaningful dialogue between patients and physicians. The resulting integrated, cross-channel program paid off with measurable benefits for the marketing team, and more importantly, for the patient and the physician. Some of the program's benefits included:
» More than 20,000 healthcare providers have received feedback reports on their own patients
» On average, about 30 percent of patients enrolled in the CRM program chose to also join the feedback program
» One of the largest patient feedback databases in the US, leading to numerous publications
» Positive ROI, with latest results projecting more than 17:1 annual ROI
» Significant increase in new prescriptions, ranging from 13 to almost 40 percent when matched against a control group

A Call for Participants

In order to make the integrated promotional machine work, the program needed participants. Thus, it was critical for the marketing team to develop in-office promotional pieces (such as a patient starter kit) that offered clear messaging coupled with an invitation for patients to join the communications program. It was especially important that the program offered patients key information about the disease state, and what their treatment expectations should be.

A trial coupon in every patient starter kit required activation and served as an invitation to the CRM programs. However, the marketing team decided early on that they wanted to go one step beyond the typical CRM approach by allowing patients the ability to communicate with their prescribing physician between office visits. Their reasoning? The integrated coupon program supported brand messaging and accelerated the trial and adoption of the medication. By providing patient starter kits that included a "free trial offer" coupon and an opportunity to participate in an integrated CRM/patient feedback program, the impact of a traditional marketing program was significantly amplified.

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