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August 30, 2022 Jackie Drees0
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Many Type 2 diabetes patients worry about their disease, leading to a significant impact on their mental health—especially for younger diabetics. However, those concerns present fresh opportunities for pharma companies to ultimately improve outcomes for Type 2 diabetes patients by offering them the support tools and resources they most want.

Diabetes has a pervasive effect on patients’ lives, with more than one-third (37%) of Type 2 diabetes patients reporting that they worry about their condition often or all of the time, according to data Phreesia Life Sciences collected in December 2021 and January 2022 from more than 4,000 adults diagnosed with or treated for Type 2 diabetes as they checked in for their doctors’ appointments.

Those worries can often be debilitating, as 42% of surveyed patients said their Type 2 diabetes has a moderate-to-great impact on their mental health. And Phreesia survey data shows that mental health concerns are even more significant among younger patients, with 31% of Millennials and Gen Z reporting that their diabetes has a great impact on their mental health, compared with 23% of Gen X and 9% of Baby Boomers.

Listening to and understanding Type 2 diabetes patients’ mental health struggles before engaging with them is crucial to alleviating some of the burdens they face, explains Mark Materacky, Vice President of Consumer Marketing at Novo Nordisk.

“It starts with a deep understanding and empathy for the challenges people who live with Type 2 diabetes experience,” Materacky says. “Addressing the person first—not the disease—is critical.”

Despite the condition’s negative effect on many patients’ psychological well-being, more than three-quarters (77%) of surveyed Type 2 diabetes patients said they have not sought any mental health support. Those who do seek support most commonly said they talk to friends or family (16%), followed by seeing a psychologist or counselor (5%). This notable gap between the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes patients’ mental health concerns and their uptake of support spotlights a marketing opportunity to connect with these patients and share resources that can help them.

In addition to their need for mental health support, Type 2 diabetes patients also want personalized resources to help them manage their condition. For example, nearly half (49%) of surveyed patients cited nutritional information specific to their needs as their most desired resource. Other top requests included tips on recommended lifestyle changes when taking diabetes medications (37%) and resources that could help them better understand how their medication works (31%).

Pharma companies can deepen their engagement with Type 2 diabetes patients and raise their awareness of the support materials available to them by taking a more personable approach in their marketing communications, suggests Christine Mormile, Director of Media at CMI Media Group.

“It’s very easy to get caught up in talking about financials or why you should get on a medication,” Mormile says. “Something that all pharma products—not just in the diabetes space—can do better with is creating messaging that asks patients, ‘How can we listen to you?’ or conveys that ‘We’re here to support you, and this is how our product can help your long-term diabetes care-management plan.’”

One of the strongest ways to engage with Type 2 diabetes patients—and to connect them to the types of support they seek—is by reaching them with these thoughtful messages at the point of care. Phreesia survey data suggests that diabetes patients discuss various treatment and disease management options with their providers. For example, 60% of survey respondents have talked about weight loss and nearly half (44%) have discussed new prescription medications with their main doctor who treats their Type 2 diabetes.

Given Type 2 diabetes patients’ demonstrated willingness to discuss treatment options with their providers, there are multiple opportunities for pharma marketers to reach them, not only with medication-awareness campaigns while they are in a healthcare state of mind, but also with nonpharmacological resources that can holistically support their treatment plan. Pharma companies should leverage the point of care to help diabetes patients access the many support tools available to them, empowering them to implement key lifestyle changes that can help them confidently manage their disease.


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August 30, 2022 Jen Werther0
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The last decade saw an explosion of health data from sources including the digitization of health records, genomics, wearables, insurance claims, and more – which by some estimates now represents about 30% of the world’s data volume.

When combined with the power of machine learning, this data has the potential to reveal new insights into patients and their unique care journeys. Just imagine an AI model that improves the accuracy of cancer diagnosis, or can help isolate the genes responsible for rare genetic conditions. Innovations like these are already beginning to improve patient outcomes, and they raise the question of how else we can replicate the beneficial application of health data more generally across the entire healthcare system in a privacy-safe way.

Digital marketing in pharma seems like a prime candidate for this type of innovation. For example, what if we could glean broad, population-level insights to deliver relevant information exactly when patients need it? Or what if we could improve the experience for the 42% of consumers who say that the relevance of the pharma ads they see are poor or very poor?

Considering that our past research has found that pharmaceutical ads can empower patients to take a more active role in researching treatments – which is also the most common factor that patients state influences their medication adherence – that would be powerful indeed. So let’s examine the state of programmatic advertising in healthcare today, dig into some of the trends holding back the use of privacy-safe health data in advertising, and explore the opportunity for pharma marketers who successfully combine the two.

The State of Pharma Marketing in 2022

For a number of reasons, linear TV has long dominated the marketing mix for pharmaceutical brands and their agencies, but viewing habits change and audiences are fragmenting. In fact, some estimate that up to 70% of streaming audiences can’t be reached by linear-only campaigns – driving many advertisers to explore programmatic formats like digital video and connected TV (CTV). The pandemic further changed the way many pharma brands view advertising, with many appreciating the important difference it made in educating consumers and providers alike.

This major landscape shift toward programmatic media by pharma represents an opportunity to rethink both ad relevancy and measurement for the industry.

First, programmatic channels offer much more precise targeting than traditional TV – with as many as four or more variables like location and household income, compared with traditional demographics. Incidentally, this aligns with what patients say they want: relevancy. According to research conducted by DeepIntent and LG Ads Solutions, 65% of the more than 2,900 adults surveyed said that targeted ads improved their experience – and 57% said CTV ads were more relevant than linear or traditional TV ads. However, the deprecation of third-party cookies in 2023 will impact the precision of some programmatic channels, making it important to invest in new tools and strategies that allow for privacy-safe audience building, targeting, and measurement. CTV, for instance, doesn’t rely on third-party cookies for audience identification and measurement.

Second, linking digital ad campaign data and health data allows advertisers to go a step beyond traditional reporting metrics. Instead of simply tracking top-level data points like the number of impressions or clicks an ad received, marketers can go much deeper and analyze real-world patient outcomes, such as the number of new patients who actually follow through with filling the prescriptions written by their doctors after viewing an ad. This is also where there is the greatest opportunity to improve audience targeting, activation, and measurement over time – and is what will soon transform digital marketing in pharma.

Supercharging Pharma Marketing With Real-Time Data and Campaign Optimization

Health data isn’t actionable on its own, and a number of challenges have historically prevented its use for advertising.

For starters, data siloing and property systems have made it difficult to extract data and collect insights from connected data sets. The need for privacy and regulatory compliance further complicates its use for advertising purposes. Plus claims data, when available, is often lagged, and a lack of integration between marketing platforms and measurement tools has made campaign optimization a difficult, time-intensive process that is nearly impossible to automate at the same depth other industries enjoy today.

But why should healthcare marketers be relegated to using tools and solutions that are second-rate and downright inferior compared to what other marketers can do? The answer is they shouldn’t, and thankfully, the latest digital marketing technology leveraging real-time data, clean rooms, and machine learning makes it possible to optimize campaigns toward real-world outcomes using digital health data in a privacy-safe way.

Within just a few days, healthcare marketers using this technology can begin to determine which of their channels and demographics are most effective at achieving their campaign goals such as audience quality and new-to-brand scripts. That information can then be interpreted using machine learning to optimize variables including creative, audience, frequency, inventory geography, and more that impact whether an ad is both timely and relevant.

For an industry that has traditionally lagged behind others like retail or finance in its adoption of programmatic, the consequences of this shift are huge. Marketers will gain a much better understanding of campaign performance, and can optimize their campaigns faster and more effectively than ever before. And for patients who may rely on a new drug or therapy, the effects of this transformation can be literally life-changing.