Doctors' Words No Longer Gospel - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Doctors' Words No Longer Gospel


Pharmaceutical Executive


A new set of needs

Our comfort zone is finding and filling the unmet medical needs of patients with new and innovative products—that, we get. But with a shape-shifting market, added influencers, empowered patients, and beleaguered prescribers, how much do we know about the new dynamic that influences the decision to use those new and innovative products?

At a minimum, we know that the relationship between prescribers and patients has changed forever. And addressing that change takes a new approach to your professional brand marketing program.

First, listen to patient conversations in depth. It's not news that patients are on the Internet talking to each other about their conditions, their physicians, and their treatments. They're forming opinions about your brand (based on both accurate and inaccurate influencers) long before they are even written a script. Unless you're listening to patients—using any one of the monitoring tools out there and in-depth research with patients, family members, and caregivers—you're missing out.

Stop thinking about just your brand, think about their practice. The bottom line is that doctors can find your brand's data at the click of a mouse. What they can't find as easily are information and resources to help them communicate about treatment decisions with the patients in their practice. Information to help them combat the misinformation they're often presented with during patient visits. Build that into your brand program and you'll build a renewed fan base.

Go through, not around, the physician to reach the patient. The web, smartphones, and tablets opened up opportunities for brands to talk directly to patients like never before. But we can't forget that the most critical conversation about your brand is the one that happens between the physician and the patient. So don't ignore the physician as a channel to the patient. Programs that go through the physician not only help patients, but contribute to the credibility of both your brand and your company.

Realize that adherence programs are no longer a nice-to-have. You know success doesn't come when the script is written. It's when it's filled, and refilled. Patient adherence can be affected by everything from drug performance to pricing issues to patient habit and behavior. Get programs in place that help patients stay on their medication, and you'll help both patients and the physicians who treat them.

Define the brand's role

Even with all the complexities in today's market, there's still a moment of truth for your brand. The moment at the point of care that happens between the prescriber and the patient. So take a close look at each of the dimensions and influences that impact that moment and decide what your brand can do to help that prescriber help his or her patient.

Al Topin is President of Topin & Associates, and a member of Pharm Exec's Editorial Advisory Board. He can be reached at
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