New Site Promotes Better Doctor/Patient Conversations

Nov 19, 2008

When you’re building a Web presence for your brand, you need to keep customers’ preferences in mind. For example, if you were creating a branded site for physicians, how would the following statistics (from the online reference developer Epocrates) affect your choices?

  • 70 percent of doctors go online for clinical information at least once a day
  • 75 percent prefer to visit drug-specific sites rather than use search engines
  • Nearly 50 percent say they prefer to access the Web while meeting with patients, instead of before or after hours.

Starting with this focus on drug-centered, practice-oriented information, you might well end up with a site like Medversation.com, launched last week by Centocor, the biologics arm of Johnson & Johnson. The site is an interesting hybrid—a branded site that looks in many ways like an unbranded site, designed to provide physicians with easy-to-digest information about Centocor’s Remicade (infliximab), which they can use to better communicate with their patients.

The key to the site’s appeal is its simplicity. While Medversation provides thousands of pages of information and citations, the home page is stripped down to a handful of categories. At the top of the page are links that take physicians to well-designed sequences on the natural history of Remicade’s indications (Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis), plus sections on the risks of remicade, the benefits, and a risk/benefit analysis. Lower down are links for experienced users that lead to patient-friendly material, a library feature that lets doctors assemble customized brochures and handouts to share with patients, and a search engine for Remicade prescribing information.

“Informed conversations between healthcare providers and their patients are essential to making the best therapeutic decisions at the end of the day,” said Tom Schaible, vice president of medical affairs at Centocor. “We believe that—even if it the doctor doesn’t end up using Remicade in a given patient.”

Remicade has been on the market for nearly 10 years, and Centocor has used some pretty innovative marketing strategies to inform people about the drug. Two years ago, the company released a full-length film, InnerState, which followed the day-to-day lives of actual patients as they learned to live with their diseases.

“We continually look for unique ways to bring awareness of these diseases to patients and physicians,” Schaible said. “The diseases we treat are diseases that result from dysfunction of the immune system. They can be complicated by nature, and if they are not treated properly can have significant, irreversible outcomes.”

Centocor is now training its medical affairs team and reps to introduce physicians to the site. “When you think about a drug like Remicade, you have to really take risk and benefit into account,” Schaible said “So for us, this is about getting the right drug to the right patient at the right time. And I think Medversation can help to achieve that goal.”