Missing The Mark In Patient Marketing And Professional Sales
Despite the lip service of patient centricity, pharma brand strategy and tactics still primarily focus on the physician. This continues even as we increasingly acknowledge that patients are in the healthcare driver’s seat and technology has opened numerous patient marketing options in our regulated environment. The physician remains queen.
As a pharma product manager, you evaluate the prescription patterns of the doctors in your database, focusing on how much of your medication they prescribe and how many new prescriptions they initiate. You prioritize high-volume, high-initiation-rate physicians as your target market, and pay less attention to the others.
Intuitively, that approach makes sense and for years it worked well. However, as the pharma landscape evolves, the shortcomings of targeting physicians using only this perspective and leaving patient marketing as an afterthought have grown more pronounced.
The challenge in today’s healthcare arena is that physicians have more choice than ever before of which therapy to prescribe for any given condition. In our era of ‘me too’ medications, today’s physicians don’t automatically equate ‘newer’ with ‘better’. If they do, that ‘better’ is often specific to certain patients, and not necessarily an overall advantage to every drug that preceded it that warrants switching patients on mass to the new medication.
A physician who is a high prescriber of medications with a certain indication will provide limited value to any drug maker if they don’t see the type of patients they feel will realize unique benefit from your product.
Case in Point:
At Environics, we conducted an analysis of primary care physician target lists from a variety of pharmaceutical companies across a range of therapeutic areas.
Our analysis profiled the patient community each physician’s office serves (i.e. physician’s trade area defined by a geographic radius measured in travel time from the physician’s office). We looked at the number of patients in each community with specific conditions and how many were ‘ideal patients’ for different types of medications based on physician feedback collected in survey and qualitative research.
Example 1: Comparing Profiles of Patient Communities
20%-40% of physicians targeted for a pharmaceutical product see very few patients they feel are ‘ideal candidates’ for the product
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