So, patients are online looking for information and support throughout their patient journey.
In last week’s discussion about Knowledge Symmetry between doctors and patients, we discussed the need for patients to become as knowledgeable as possible about their own conditions and that this is especially true in the case of patients with rare disorders. It is not surprising to see that research has shown that patients with chronic diseases or disabilities (rare or not) use the internet more than other patients to find health information. Even when their doctor is a specialist, patients with rare diseases must often become experts on their disease, supplementing their doctor’s knowledge with what they can find on the web.
So, patients are online looking for information and support throughout their patient journey. They are forming patient communities around their disease states. This means that marketers have the opportunity to reach (and support) them through this channel in meaningful ways. Here are three reasons patient communities have taken off so completely online; each of which presents opportunities for good service based marketing.
- Geography: Patients with rare diseases are scattered across the country. They often never meet another patient with their disease and, as a result, face isolation and loneliness. Online avenues allow patients to share stories, sympathize with others, and build connections. In a sense, their world shrinks as they create communities. Marketers have the opportunity through good search optimization to help patients find each other through good support programs and to help find patients, period – always a challenge.
- Timing: The internet never closes. When a patient has an event they want answers and support right away. Marketers have an opportunity to provide valuable content to patients whenever they need it. And marketers have a better chance of building trust if a patient is searching out your information, leading to better outcomes and a better chance of lifelong adherence.
- Scale: Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs ) who understand the issues and are up on the latest research around a particular disease have an avenue for taking that information to a much wider audience of primary care physicians that might need to be brought up to speed quickly. Marketers can help make this possible. The time is coming for patient and caregiver KOLs. Patients are also looking for support from people who have been through their experiences and reassurances that they are making the right decisions.
Pharma marketers are in a unique position to provide tools and venues for supporting patients through their patient journey, finding new patients, and helping facilitate lifelong adherence to their therapies. This is good news for everyone involved.
I would love to hear you thoughts in the comments section below.
(Image courtesy of ghindo via Flickr)