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
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.
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
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