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The Transformative Power of Patient Storytelling

January 24, 2020
Posted by: Matthew Hammer, VP- Marketing

What’s the best way to engage the imagination, influence behavior and drive action among your target audience? It’s the latest, well-known “secret” of marketing: storytelling. In the pharma industry, patient storytelling has become a highly effective marketing tool for educating and motivating patients through the life experiences of their peers.
The storytelling process enables patients and caregivers to share personal medical journeys in their own words. By giving reassurance, enhancing credibility and teaching about the patient journey, stories compel those with shared experiences to take positive action quicker.
From a pharma industry perspective, there are remarkable impacts to marketing programs when patients recount their personal experiences with a medical diagnosis or treatment.

Providing insights

Complex medical jargon and data make it difficult for most patients to understand their conditions, let alone how to live with them. The magic of stories lies in their ability to humanize the patient experience and provide a window into the patient journey.
Patient stories essentially serve as a bridge between the technical, scientific world of medicine and the experiential world of the patient. They help patients connect the dots between their diagnosis, what it means to live with their illness, and what to expect from their treatments.
From an industry standpoint, these real-life narratives illuminate the realities and complexities of the patient journey. Analyzing patient conversations can provide valuable insights into innovative approaches to educating patients, boosting treatment adherence, driving product development and enhancing the product life cycle.

Building brand trust

No doubt, everyone trusts a testimonial and personal recommendation more than a stakeholder who recommends their own product or service. Communicating genuine accounts of patient journeys adds authenticity to pharma brands.
Storytelling is an effective way to demonstrate that you are listening to your target audience and they matter – you understand their struggles and are committed to their health and wellbeing. It resonates. It’s persuasive. And it builds trust.
Pharmaceutical companies can benefit from the power of patient stories by featuring them in their digital marketing strategies. By giving an authentic voice to shared experiences throughout the treatment journey, you can engage patients on an emotional level, humanize medical experiences, and cut through the complexity of pharmaceutical product information.
Ultimately, effective patient storytelling will establish trusted relationships with potential and real users of your products and nurture advocates for your brand.
patient storytelling exmaples

Driving patient behavior

The advent of 21st century communication technologies, such as social media platforms, gave rise to the connected patient and the emergence of participatory medicine. Today’s
patients want to learn from others facing similar health challenges. They want to better understand the healthcare process and prepare themselves for any potential costs, time and discomfort.
Digital technologies remove the barrier of geography, enabling patients to gain knowledge from the first-hand experiences of others. Patient stories have the potential to not only diminish the isolation often felt by those living with a health disorder, they can provide hope, stimulate engagement with the healthcare system and encourage adherence to treatment plans.
Today, there are a multitude of blogs, vlogs, online communities and social media platforms that provide a forum from which to share patient stories. Pharma companies are leveraging patient storytelling as part of their digital marketing strategies. Through both branded and unbranded social communities, they are reaching new patients, inspiring action, decreasing the time between diagnosis and treatment, and ensuring medication adherence.

Creating market opportunities

Storytelling is one of the most impactful ways to cultivate change in healthcare. But it doesn’t happen overnight. The first step is to cultivate targeted peer-to-peer connections, so people can begin to share their patient stories. The next step is to amplify these patient experiences online, which will have the domino effect of encouraging more people to share their stories.
By strategically employing patient storytelling, you can leverage these powerful narratives to create new opportunities; for example, expanding market size, increasing market share and achieving other marketing objectives.
Read the next article in our patient storytelling series, where we take a deeper dive into how this powerful marketing technique benefits three key stakeholders of the pharma industry.
Ready to use patient storytelling to grow your brand? Request a meeting today!