A convergence of forces is changing the landscape of healthcare at breakneck speed. The shift to value-based care is affecting how providers practice. Patients have become more consumeristic as they take on a greater financial burden for their healthcare. An explosion of digital technologies and the rise of social media is changing how people access medical information and interact with their providers and others in the industry.
While all the changes in our rapidly evolving healthcare environment create unprecedented challenges for pharmaceutical marketers, they also present new opportunities. Through the strategic use of patient stories, pharma companies can not only substantially benefit themselves, but also patients and healthcare providers.
A way to inform and empower patients
In our digital world, patients are always on and always connected. Online is often the first place they go to learn about a medical diagnosis or prescribed treatment. They also turn to social networks to seek others who share similar health conditions. As consumers of healthcare, they no longer consider themselves passive recipients of care – they want to make more conscious choices about their care and its costs. Patient stories benefit patients in numerous ways in their quest for better health and value.
- Make informed decisions: Peer-to-peer communication can improve health literacy, helping patients better understand their diagnosis, treatments, side effects and relevant medical terminology.
- Open new avenues of support: Sharing patient journey stories helps people feel less alone, make emotional connections, and experience less fear of the unknown.
- Empower a proactive role: Patient storytelling helps patients feel more in control of their situation, enabling them to seek medical care, stick with their treatment regimens, and even register for relevant clinical trials.
- Facilitate necessary treatment: Patient journeys shared by peers represent a trusted source of information, which can counteract the initial denial upon diagnosis or resistance to changing deeply ingrained behaviors.
An effective target marketing strategy for pharma
As patients become more active participants in their care, it is incumbent on pharmaceutical companies to adopt a mindset of “listening” and “engaging” with patients. Rather than pushing messages at consumers, they can use storytelling to empathize, build trust, solve problems and inspire. Digital marketing strategies that include patient narratives benefit pharma marketers by creating opportunities for growth, competitive advantage and market leadership.
- Influence provider decisions: Patient storytelling offers another avenue to reach physicians in a meaningful way by offering them deeper insight into the patient journey. Targeted narratives can be used to communicate the value of a drug or therapy, giving providers impetus to write more scripts.
- Increase demand: From informing patients about their treatment options and promoting therapy adherence to educating healthcare providers on appropriate drug therapies, patient storytelling is a powerful technique for driving demand and boosting sales.
- Influence patient behavior: Pharma marketers can benefit from smartphone reach with the use of shared positive patient stories that elevate brand awareness, encourage adherence, accelerate time from diagnosis to treatment and inspire positive action.
- Differentiate product brands from competition: Targeted patient stories enable pharma companies to build stronger brands by improving outcomes, attracting new patients, and establishing greater loyalty from patients and providers. Greater differentiation can thwart competitive brands and expand the product life cycle.
A tool for providers to augment patient-centered practice
In an era of EHRs, data-driven decision making, and outcomes-based reimbursements, time-pressed healthcare providers struggle with retaining a human focus in patient care. Patient narratives are an effective tool to help physicians improve the delivery of high quality, person-centered care. There are multiple benefits for healthcare providers who incorporate patient stories into their practice.
- Increase patient engagement: Sharing relevant patient stories with patients helps providers capture attention, spark emotion and promote informed decisions with their patients – all of which can inspire positive change.
- Boost patient satisfaction: Patient stories offer clinicians a clearer picture of the patient journey. Using this information, they can communicate more effectively with patients, strengthening the provider-patient relationship and increasing patient satisfaction.
- Better patient outcomes: Patient narratives can improve shared decision making, increase adherence to prescribed therapy and treatments and enhance follow up, which can all lead to better outcomes.
- Increase revenue: Better outcomes and higher patient satisfaction attracts new patients, reduces patient leakage and increases reimbursements.
A stronger healthcare ecosystem
The pharma companies that embrace this new environment by evolving their digital marketing approach to meet the needs of patients are the most likely to be rewarded with greater market share and profitability. Patient storytelling is a communication approach that can be used quite effectively to create a stronger healthcare ecosystem for all stakeholders. By integrating patient storytelling with digital marketing efforts, pharma marketers can promote patient-centered care that benefits all stakeholders.
Read the next installment of our patient storytelling series, The Science Behind Patient Storytelling, where we take a closer look at why stories are so effective.
Want to find out how to integrate patient stories into your digital marketing strategy? Request a meeting today!