The MM&M 2015 annual survey reveals the budget priorities and top pharmaceutical marketing strategies, as expressed by pharmaceutical marketers. The mean 2015 budget was $19.4M per pharmaceutical company for marketing. Digital consumer marketing is the focus of 76% of pharmaceutical marketers and these budgets are growing rapidly, compared to the shrinking relevance of traditional advertising to consumers, used by just 40% of all marketers.
Millions of new dollars are being invested in patient-centric digital tools. This growth reflects growing consumer demand, and increased pressure from payers and managed care to provide more value and improve outcomes. But digital innovation comes with risk and uncertainty. Let’s look at the challenges faced by pharmaceutical marketers who are charged with improving patient engagement and building out a digital strategy.
Read on for the inside scoop from our analysts on technical solutions that can help and why.
Ayogo analyzed the MM&M challenges and opportunities (included as percentages after every item below) according to Big Pharma marketers in companies with revenues <$500M. Here is what concerns them and how Ayogo is helping get things right:
Customer Behavioral Change is a key part of engagement. This year 41% saw failing at Customer Behavioral Change as a significant threat or difficult challenge, and 59% look to it as an opportunity.
Why is this stressful? A 2016 study of 2119 iOS and Android mobile apps found only one in seven provided any strategies to activate patients in self care. Further, only a tiny percentage supported behavior change. Most app were educational, or provided simple low level engagement such as reminders and basic tracking, which are only loosely correlated with outcomes improvements. Undertaking behavioral supports for medication adherence requires high quality technology with difficult-to-achieve engagement techniques.
Why is this important? Behavior change is important to improving medication noncompliance, tackling the Adherence Cliff, setting realistic goals, managing expectations and creating customer loyalty.
Inside Scoop: For Habit Formation and Behavior Change customized to support pharmaceutical unbranded lifestyle management programs and medication adherence, Ayogo created the Empower Platform™. Tackling behavior change through persuasive technology, the Empower Platform™ incorporates social and behavioral economics, gamification, habit-forming supports, and content and knowledge supports. There are three waves of engagement that can be leveraged: first, onboarding; second habit formation and behavior change; third—maintenance or long-tail persistence.
63% of pharmaceutical digital marketers saw not getting this Beyond the Pill strategy right as an important difficulty to overcome, and 58% saw it as a major opportunity to try for.
Why is this a struggle? Many pharmaceutical companies know they need to create more value-added products that offer much more than a biochemical treatment. But they are running up against the challenge of communicating that value-add to the consumer.
Why is this important to Patient Engagement? Soon it will be the norm that most medications have both a chemical and digital component. Companion apps connected to the medication generate data that will enable therapeutic recommendations to be tailored to the individual.
Inside Scoop: Investing in Beyond the Pill digital solutions can engage patients in a holistic way, offering support 24/7, personalized content, moments of relief and delight that support medication adherence. It is more cost effective and faster to customize a proven technology by licensing the core patient support technology. Don’t start from scratch.
48% saw Big Data as a major difficulty and 63% viewed it as a high priority.
Why is this stressful? Big Data is hard to standardize, hard to house and hard to glean. The US government’s Big Data R&D Initiative is investing hundreds of millions to support the usability of data stores and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative. In addition to standardization, Big Data suffers from a capacity gap in analytics, as few are trained in the kind of machine learning and data science skills required to pick out relevant and nuanced trends in the vast sea of data points. According to McKInsey, Pharma also suffers from data management and systems management requirements that are are a poor match with the sheer scale of data.
Why is this important? Big Data provides huge amounts of information about a medical condition and the efficacy of a drug, gathering from a pooled database of potentially thousands, even millions, of patients. More effective, personalized therapies will evolve, with insights generated by this data. For example, de-personalized data may uncover a predictable group of patients who are not responding to treatment. New messaging to providers and pharmacists can improve the conversation and ensure the right patients get the right medicine for them.
Inside Scoop: Big Data can improve patient engagement by flowing insights drawn from a large pool of digitally-active users back to the consumers. But standardizing, managing and stewarding this data can be challenging. Look into the Zero Trust Data approach which is helping some pharma and healthcare systems stream useful insights while honouring the 7 Principles of Privacy by Design.
45% saw Social Media a challenge and 56% saw it as an important opportunity to pursue.
Why is this stressful? Social applications introduce the risk of unreported adverse events, anti-brand messaging, and patient-to-patient communication that includes off label recommendations. These are risks that can be mitigated.
Why is this important? Every branded and unbranded pharmaceutical program includes social tactics as part of their pharma marketing strategies. But the exact mix differs. The most engaging from a patient perspective is patient-to-patient or patient-to-caregiver communication. Obviously this is not always feasible. The importance is finding the balance. Social Media can build brand recognition, disseminate information quickly, build knowledge collaboratively, and improve engagement. It is a means for leveraging Social Proof, peer-to-peer coaching and support through moderated online communities. These benefits outweigh the costs of moderation, content management and AE reporting.
Inside Scoop: Unbranded social media awareness campaigns that name risks and symptoms are often the first step toward testing and treatment. But pharma marketers need to see social media as an important tool for building motivation throughout treatment, even later stages when patients may be experiencing treatment fatigue. Look into powerful tools are not public social tools. This is not an oxymoron: there are private social applications like Merck’s Type2Travelers, or Kaiser Permanente’s Picture It! Weight Loss, where users gain the benefits of social support without the risks typically associated with more public forums. In closed social applications, users show tremendous responsibility to the group (Type2Travelers for example had phenomenal daily engagement for 12 weeks!) and courtesy for others. As well, peer-moderation and 24/7 AE monitoring are easily incorporated.
41% saw Consumerism in Health as a challenge and 55% as an opportunity.
Why is this stressful? Consumerism may reduce quality in healthcare when consumerist patients place additional demands on their doctors’ time or demand treatments that may not be effective for them.
Why is this important? Consumerist patients are highly involved in decisions that impact their own health. Health consumerism encourages empowerment and the transfer of knowledge. Better informed patients who are included as partners in health decision-making do a better job of managing chronic disease.
Inside Scoop: The power of a new generation of digital supports lies in their ability to go beyond education to empowerment. Look for digital patient engagement tools that allow the consumer to customize the experience to suit their interests, their schedules and their priorities, while still holding true to a clinically-approved program. For example Merck’s Sleep Guru, a companion application to the Belsomra sleep aid provides a clinically-sound foundation to this habit-building application that can be customized by the consumer.
If you are a pharmaceutical marketer interested in Patient Engagement, see previous posts in this series, including the definition of patient engagement, patient engagement vs activation, lessons to be learned, pharma health games and other patient-centric strategies.
You can contact us and discuss this with us directly.
You can also read more about how Ayogo is helping pharmaceutical marketers lower risk, convert patients, build engagement over time and deliver real results to our pharmaceutical clients in our Digital Brochure ‘Patient-Centric Mobile Applications for Pharmaceutical Organizations’.