Alternative Media: Interactive=Integration - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Alternative Media: Interactive=Integration
Interactive technology allows marketers to keep up with the demands of both physicians and consumers.


Pharmaceutical Executive


Cadient Group research reveals that the busiest healthcare professionals are just as likely to seek information about products and disease states at 11:00 a.m. (during a break in office hours) as they are at 11:00 p.m. (during a break in the late-night news). Pharma must meet them where they are by creating communications models flexible enough to accommodate either schedule. Unfortunately, most traditional media channels and historical sales force deployment models simply do not have the agility to be available on demand.

Such models also often fail to deliver tailored content with the level of precision that healthcare professional audiences now desire. Several recently published surveys have shown that online destinations are becoming the primary brand and disease information resource for healthcare specialists, ranking even above traditional media, like journals.

An interactive core allows marketers to know the professional audience's hierarchy of needs, to use dynamic segmentation to align messaging, to individualize content delivery, and to seek information more efficiently. Through this approach, pharma marketers can provide multiple levels of value-added service, which can translate into a distinct and sustainable competitive advantage for their brand, franchise, or company.

Marketing pioneers also are adapting their efforts to include a multitude of online services beyond just branded or brand-related information. New tools include sites that enable professionals to establish profiles, against which content is flagged or sorted to assist in research needs. Sites also can provide HCPs with the information and resources their peers find most valuable, and direct them to other interactive resources, such as webinars and peer discussions. PDA-downloadable content, such as diagnostic screening tools, reinforces the value of the consultive relationship. Interactive case-based learning modules allow them to integrate patient care, diagnostics, clinical data overviews, and personalized patient educational materials, all online. And most important, all of these activities are better integrated with communications efforts in other media channels, which keeps messages consistent and amplifies the impact of other communications.

But this approach works for more than just professional communication. An interactive core can support an entire continuum of communications needs: Doctors download PDA-based diagnostic tools and counseling guides to facilitate patient interactions; meanwhile, consumers access unbranded disease awareness sites to learn about conditions and use interactive tools to assess their symptoms.

An e-defined approach provides a pathway for patients and physicians to stay connected. Doctors can "prescribe" a site where patients can access product and condition information and get the chance to enroll in a support program. In addition to encouraging compliance and persistence, this strategy converts patient interest into activism for their own health.

Interactive tools—such as personal medication diaries, daily symptom-assessment tracking tools, and peer-moderated resources like message boards and online testimonials—create information-based relationships with patients and caregivers. These tools also can help healthcare providers assess patient responses, gauge the titration of medications, and fill information gaps that might lead to discontinuance.

E-Defining DTC

The much publicized shift in DTC advertising witnessed over the past year is indicative of pharma's diminishing credibility with consumers, who continue to show their media activism in this area. That's why, as access to information continues to grow, providing the most relevant, timely, credible content to the biggest targeted audience possible is increasingly important and achievable.

In an e-defined marketing environment, information is the new DTC "currency." There's little reason to mourn the loss of the 15-second "Ask your Doctor" spot in this new age of consumer communications, where DTC is driven from an interactive core and becomes a conduit for better communication between the patients and their own healthcare providers. In fact, in many of the new-breed DTC ads, information—whether in the form of brochures, educational DVDs or kits—has supplanted celebrity spokespeople as the mainstay of advertising campaigns.

Similarly, pharma must give consumers a much broader perspective of the information available to them, not just a myopic view of a promotional message. The same can be said for balancing benefit and risk information. The time and space limitations of traditional media may make them unable to fulfill these objectives. But leveraging multiple media strategies and a more expansive use of interactive-channel strategies is sure to improve the industry's performance in the area of appropriate information exchange.


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