Marketing to Professionals: Doctor-Patient Communication - Pharmaceutical Executive


Marketing to Professionals: Doctor-Patient Communication
Improving doctor-patient relations can lead to increased patient compliance.

Pharmaceutical Executive

Improving Adherence

Nevertheless, patients can still decide to opt out of their treatment. Even if they show up for the visit, they may reject the idea that they need therapy. In fact, 47 percent of patients fail to comply with therapy because they are not convinced that they need it, according to data compiled by Wilson Health Information. Even if they agree that they need some intervention, they may nevertheless forget to fill their prescription. Or if they do fill their prescription, they may fail to take their medication as directed.

For example, in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December, 2002, Brian Haynes, MD, wrote that among patients who have been told to stop smoking, lose weight, or eat healthier foods, less than 10 percent comply. Ironically, Haynes also found that patients who are admonished by their doctors to make lifestyle changes—even when such changes can dramatically improve their health—tend to be least compliant, even when compared with the high noncompliance rates for medication-based regimens. For this reason, Haynes suggests that focusing first on medication compliance is critical. Once the physician and patient have worked together to fine-tune a medication regimen that works, add-on measures such as lifestyle modifications become easier.

Improving adherence requires strategies that are based on proven techniques that have worked in the clinical arena. These strategies can then be incorporated into various program elements. These include patient instructions, guidelines for counseling patients about specific therapeutic regimens, patient support group sessions, and written and e-mail patient reminders. Also helpful are various types of positive reinforcement and rewards, such as explicitly acknowledging the patient's adherence efforts, and self-monitoring materials designed to promote autonomous patient compliance reinforced by physician review, with a built-in reward structure.

Investing in DPE-based communication programs is a good strategy for increasing ROI, especially considering that only one to two percent of budgets is directed towards patient-physician communications. Ideally, productive doctor-patient encounters lead to higher medication compliance rates, better patient outcomes, and doctors who are more professionally satisfied. A three-pronged investment is good not only for patients, but also for business.


Sima Shah
Sima Shah joined Stratagem Healthcare Communications as an account executive. The company also added Ellyn Kutch as senior traffic manager and Stephen Gershon as copy editor. Rx Worldwide Meetings promoted Judi Burdette to vice president of business development and Darcie Wooten to director of meetings. Mary Beth Mounce and Mandy Schimming joined the company as meeting coordinators. Emmanuel Leeper also joined as controller. William Passano became president of the Medical-Dental Division of Ascend Media. Gregory Q. Tiberend rejoined Richard Lewis Communications as executive vice president and COO.


RH Media, a new publisher's representative firm, will be handling four of Elsevier's titles: Annals of Emergency Medicine, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Journal of Emergency Nursing, and Disaster Management Response. Richard Lewis Communications entered into a partnership with TS Communications Group to enhance client services. Fission Communications and the Healthcare Marketing Communications Council worked together to re-brand the Annual Management Program at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business.


Gregory Q. Tiberend
The Navicor Group announced the launch of its new Web site,, which was created by Blue Diesel. Elsevier Society News Group launched Thoracic Surgery News with a September/October 2005 issue. The bimonthly publication is the official newspaper of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery.

Charlene Prounis is co-president of Flashpoint Medica. She can be reached at


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