The Patient Centric Approach

Identifying patients as the new purchasers or merely as product testers? Where do you stand?

Patient-centric! This phrase has become almost like a mantra for many pharma companies in recent times as they rush to put the patient at the core of their marketing endeavours. Gone are the older sales models which were aimed at the HCP with product information firmly at its centre. As patients turn to ‘Dr Google’ to research their disease through blogs, message boards and websites, it is clear that the marketing audience has changed forever. Pharma has recognised this and is ensuring it has its place in the online conversation.

But what does patient-centric really mean? Obviously the idea suggests that patients are now the focus of the marketing strategy, particularly in the digital arena. A newer, more holistic approach has been adopted by pharma as they recognise that patients are not interested in simply reading, what are essentially, product advertisements. They are demanding more, much more, from education on disease prevention through to information on solutions and aftercare. Equally patients are becoming as important as pharma in telling the product story by documenting their outcomes and experiences.

What is still up for debate however, is the desired outcome of this patient centricity. In such a highly regulated industry, harnessing the power of the patient voice can only be a good thing, but the challenge is to use the gathered data in a meaningful way. Are pharma companies hoping to inspire trust amongst patients which will allow them to leverage this new consumer power? Indeed do pharma companies really consider that patients themselves are the new consumer? Or are they hoping instead, that by engaging patients online, they will better understand the patient journey which in turn will enable them to meet the needs of the HCP? Clearly this notion of placing the patient at the centre of healthcare marketing means different things to different people. This was outlined earlier last year in an article by Andreas Laupacis and Jennifer Gibson “Patient-centred” – what does it mean and how achievable is it?, where opinions continue to be a gathered to find a true meaning to this new trend. So where to do you stand on the debate? Patient centric – identifying patients as the new purchasers or merely as product testers?