Personalized Medicine Needs Personalized Marketing

December 19, 2016
Peter Houston

In the brave new world of personalized medicine, there are concerns that the one-drug-fits-all mass-marketing approach of the past won’t work, writes Peter Houston.

According to Grand View Research, the global personalized medicine market was valued at more than $1 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach almost $2.5 billion in 2022, a CAGR of 11.8 percent over the forecast period. 

In the brave new world of personalized medicine, there are concerns that the one-drug-fits-all mass-marketing approach of the past won’t work. The more specific treatments become, the more targeted the information flow must become, with personalized medicine requiring equally personalized marketing.

ContextMedia:Health (CMH) is a health information platform provider based in Chicago. It delivers health information into hundreds of millions of healthcare decisions every year, supplying tablets for education, assessment technology for early detection, and digital wallboards featuring 3D Anatomical diagrams of condition states and treatments.

The company is reporting that personalized information, delivered digitally, can increase the number of prescriptions written and improve patient adherence.

CMH says that, for each dollar spent on a digital, interactive marketing campaign, brands are earning as much as $7 through an incremental lift on prescriptions filled against a control. And in terms of adherence, some are seeing a lift of more than 80 percent in continued prescriptions filled against a control (CRx).

Looking at health outcomes, CMH also reports significant benefits:

  • 55 percent of patients cite improved ability to manage care

  • 62 percent have increased awareness of patient portals

  • 3 in 4 patients incorporate new healthy behaviors learned from the technology

  • 88 percent of patients have improved health literacy

  • 62 percent have improved understanding about their conditions

  • 6 in 10 patients report increased engagement in conversations with their doctors

Ashik Desai, EVP of business growth and analytics for CMH, says one of the challenges developing out of personalized medicine is how to connect the dots between health care providers, patients and technology providers.

“There’s a transformation going on in healthcare, from blockbuster drugs with huge patient populations, to personalized one-to-one provision,” he says. “There is incredible innovation in science, but there also needs to be innovation in helping patients to manage their health outcomes.”

He believes that with personalized medicine it is even more critical to engage the patient and that requires the right information to create care coordination modules. “Positive outcomes depend on a lot more than just the right treatment. Lifestyle, fitness, food all matter. It’s about regime and routine”

Desai says, in the past, pharma marketing has been a primarily passive experience at the physician’s practice - something that was left in the waiting room. Personalized marketing can deliver information and insights to patients and physicians during the actual consultation. “These are the specific moments and conversations in which healthcare decision are made,” he says.

He explains that physicians can now use technology to inform their health decisions and treatment options on the basis of their prior research and knowledge of the patient. “For example, our Digital Exam Room Tablet can offer assessment tools for early detection, based on simple questions around a patient’s lifestyle and family history. Based on the results of these assessment tools, the patient can then have an enriched conversation about treatment options with their healthcare provider.”

In the case of chronic conditions, patients generally have to manage their conditions on their own. By providing the correct context, better platforms for communication, and helpful information to patients in the consultation room, patient adherence can be improved for patients living with a chronic condition.

In the personalized context, pharma marketing may no longer be the correct terminology. Desai says advertising certainly isn’t. “We’re moving beyond advertising, this is about delivering the right information and the right intelligence at the right time.”

The ‘right information’ could be around disease state awareness, diagnosis or follow up sessions to ‘stay on’ or amend therapy. In this environment, the normal rules of information exclusivity don’t apply. Desai describes what is required, not as a marketing platform, but as an ‘information and intelligence platform’ that is personalised, contextualised and actionable.

To ensure the depth and breadth of information required is available, a range of providers are required. CMH operates as a platform provider, delivering content from multiple inputs. “We work with 37 of the top 40 life science companies and source content from providers such as the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the American College of Gastroenterology.”

Just as personalized medicine couldn’t exist without emerging technologies, personalised marketing relies heavily on developing digital infrastructure. “To deliver this level of complexity in terms of how information is served would be almost impossible without digital. Digital gives us the opportunity to scale, to bring the technical innovation to life.”

For the future, Desai sees an opportunity in the exam room. “Where we see it going is toward smart diagnostics, bringing together preferences from patient and HCP, clinical data and symptom tracking. We are working on a diagnostic module, a tool that is about more than the right prescription. We want to elevate diagnosis”.

Desai says: “We do not currently leverage our technology to deliver information and intelligence that is personalized down to the genetic level, but we are building HIPAA compliant technology that can help us get there.”

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