Alternative Media: Patient Bloggers on Your Brands - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Alternative Media: Patient Bloggers on Your Brands
Find out what patient bloggers are saying about your brands.


Pharmaceutical Executive


When looking at the diabetes conversations, marketers found that only 10 percent of all online conversations revolved around the efficacy of drug therapies. They learned that people were less concerned about the drug's efficacy because they presumed that all the medications in this category were interchangeable. Instead, patients were primarily concerned with how diabetes affects patients' diets and food choices. They also found that patients who developed coping strategies represented the authority figures in this category.

These insights enabled marketers to design a customer resource managment (CRM) program that identified "copers" and "non-copers." They paired non-copers (often newly diagnosed patients) with "copers" to get tips, advice, and support. The program set up a Web site from which both copers and non-copers could benefit. The site offers diabetics the opportunity to explore areas of personal interest or concern and download practical tips and advice from cyber-experts.

Patient Triggers

Blogs can help marketers understand how customer attitudes and motivations form and change. By creating markers that track a patient's progress over time, pharma can determine what kind of message to send them and when to do so. This content-timing formula needs to be precise to gain credibility and acceptance from the patient. It also gives pharma an understanding of the trigger events, which often include a combination of behavioral and emotional events that indicate when a patient may be ready to learn more about a product.

Marketers may want to examine:

  • How patients feel about the disease
  • How much the disease impacts their quality of life
  • Whether they buy into the doctor's diagnosis and the treatment prescribed
  • How they perceive the effectiveness of treatments.

For example, if a patient is generally suspicious of doctors or afraid of injections, he may not be a good candidate for an injectable drug therapy. However, if he reaches a point where his condition is affecting his quality of life, he may be open to considering alternative treatments.

Neurologic Drug Case Study

In another example, marketers evaluated 120,000 conversations as part of online anthropology work for a new neurologic drug. They found that patients primarily talked about drug therapies. The online "experts" were those who had tried the most number of treatments. Research found that patients felt their condition left them at a disadvantage in society and unable to lead what they perceived to be normal lives. To gain credibility and add relevancy for these patients, marketers started to provide information on travel, finance, and patients' rights in their marketing materials. This empowered patients and gave them the support and tools to help them gain equal status in society.

Blogs reinforce that patients value healthcare information on a personal level. They give marketers insight into disease-related issues that overwhelm patients and help identify barriers to their treatment. Marketers should listen to the new consumer-powered conversations in order to understand what triggers patients to switch products or develop loyalty to them. The transparency of the Web offers a unique opportunity to market more effectively than ever before. Through blogs, marketers can raise issues that are important to patients, test the pervasiveness of a concern (positive or negative) and ultimately, revamp their marketing strategies.


Genetown Hotbed and BioGarden Hotbed
People TelaDoc selected Steven W. Cooley as president of operations and liason to the Teladoc Physicians' Association. Blue Diesel hired five new people: Jennifer Burkhardt as account manager, Nicholas Carron as senior interactive designer, Bryan Duffie as interactive designer, Aaron Reiser as interactive art director, and TJ Sochor as media specialist.

Launches BioSpace launched two promotional campaigns: Genetown Hotbed, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and BioGarden Hotbed, in conjunction with the Biotechnology Council of New Jersey.


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