Better marketing by design: humanizing drug delivery systems

Brand Insights - Thought Leadership | Paid Program

How can marketers be sure that their devices, such as an insulin pen, will be safe, effective, and intuitive in patients’ hands? The answer lies in Human Factors Engineering (HFE). HFE combines mechanical engineering with behavioral psychology to examine how systems can be designed for safe and effective use with real—and fallible—human beings at the controls. Too often, HFE is often treated as an afterthought, with user-based design considerations siloed into engineering or regulatory requirements in the launch cycle. However, product marketing teams enjoy significant advantages if HFE is integrated early in the timeline:

  • Alignment of regulatory requirements and marketing goals for faster launch
  • Product adoption and loyalty through better patient experience
  • Better compliance/consistent use by making treatment user friendly

HFE and market research alignment is paramount

Ironically, at the end of the launch cycle, marketing and HFE may sometimes be in conflict, as independent investigation by marketing and engineering may point to different solutions. Also, HFE may compete for market research funds. Both are essential, of course. The figure below illustrates how coordination of findings between HFE research and market research can streamline a product’s development costs and timing, as well as enhance adoption by patients and healthcare professionals.

Fortunately, the coincidence of HFE and market research stages fosters cross pollination. The figure below shows how the first phases of development are great opportunities to share findings and build alignment to optimize the product and ensure a smoother launch, as well as reduce resources wasted in duplicative cross-purpose efforts.

Remember, it’s all about the patient

HFE and marketing strategies work and best coordinate when they both focus on the needs of the user and their interaction with the therapy and device. Both teams work in their respective comfort zones, and benefit from the insights of their counterparts, particularly:

  • Supporting the end user and their experience using your drug-device combination
  • Understanding context of use, both physical and cultural
  • Making it easy to implement treatment correctly

Early collaboration between HFE and marketing teams creates alignment between engineers, regulatory, marketing, and product management teams:

  • HFE observations of barriers to correct use can contribute to discovery of unmet needs and new opportunities;
  • Global HFE strategies can optimize design across markets and avoid market-centric mistakes, as well as provide an early indication of local adaptations;
  • Concept/prototype research, including standardized HFE survey batteries, can deliver insights to both teams for the same dollars.

The importance of efficient collaborative product support doesn’t end with launch. Comparative HFE evaluation with competitor products leads to competitive advantages and data support for formulary and tech evaluation committees and payers.Comparative HFE testing employing standard usability tests and benchmarks among competitive products is a powerful marketing tool. Properly implemented, it informs formulary and tech evaluation committees, and demonstrates value to payers. Most importantly, the patient benefits most when HFE enjoys an early, harmonious integration with other marketing mandates.