Chronic lower respiratory diseases are the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., making them more deadly than conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.1 The good news is that there are several medications available to treat this group of illnesses, which include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and improve these individuals’ quality of life. But many patients aren’t having the conversations necessary to make that happen.
COPD patients’ symptoms include cough and shortness of breath.2 However, COPD manifests differently from patient to patient and sometimes develops very slowly. The lack of a clear signal that something is wrong means people need prompting to talk to their doctor about their breathing problems.
“Many people don’t even know they have COPD. They experience symptoms that they consider part of normal life progression and essentially learn to live with them,” says Norbert Feigler, MD, Senior Medical Director, Respiratory at AstraZeneca. “Estimates [suggest] as many as half of American COPD patients [are] not yet diagnosed.”
As COPD progresses, daily activities become more difficult, but the process is gradual. An individual may start to walk more slowly or avoid going up steps, incrementally—and often imperceptibly—adapting their lives so that they don’t get out of breath. When their physician asks how they’re doing, they may say they are fine, minimizing their experiences because they have adapted to an undiagnosed illness
That scenario creates an ideal opportunity for direct-to-consumer messaging, particularly at the point of care. If campaigns can help patients recognize that their symptoms and subtle lifestyle changes may be signs of a lung disease, they can encourage conversations between patients and their doctors that may lead to more timely treatment. And, since COPD-related lung damage is permanent, cutting the time to diagnosis can only improve outcomes.
“It can be particularly mentally and emotionally tolling when a patient is first diagnosed, knowing the damage to their lungs is irreversible,” Dr. Feigler says. “This is why it’s important for patients to recognize the signs and symptoms of COPD, driving earlier diagnosis, and ultimately allowing physicians to employ a more proactive approach to disease management.”
Point-of-care campaigns can play a vital role in minimizing that damage, as well as its psychological toll, by encouraging patients to talk to their physician when they first notice possible signs of COPD. Such campaigns can help those who are already diagnosed, too. A Phreesia survey of 1,994 COPD patients found that fewer than half (44%) of diagnosed COPD patients had had detailed discussions with their doctor about their breathing symptoms. In a potentially related finding, 34% of respondents said they lacked a full understanding of their condition.
Those results suggest that COPD patients may be missing out on treatments and lifestyle changes that could improve their quality of life and health outcomes. Albert Rizzo, MD, FACP, Chief Medical Officer at the American Lung Association, explains how educational campaigns can benefit COPD patients.
“One of the best things to help a COPD patient is to educate them about the importance of staying active” Dr. Rizzo says. “You don’t have to do 30 minutes on a treadmill every day, but walking to the mailbox, doing the steps once or twice a day, just trying to maintain a level of activity, can go a long way in helping them feel like they have better control in their day-to-day activities.”
An estimated 12.2 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, but even more are living with the disease without a diagnosis. Those numbers indicate that DTC campaigns that change the awareness and behaviors of even a fraction of those suffering with COPD can have a huge impact and address a great unmet need by encouraging patients and providers to work together to identify symptoms, diagnose COPD earlier and ultimately shift the standard of care to a proactive approach to disease management.
“Leading Causes of Death,” National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jan. 18, 2023.
Lee, Y.-C., Chang, K.-Y. & Sethi, S. Association of Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease With County Health Disparities in New York State. JAMA Netw Open.2021;4(11):e2134268. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.34268
In today’s digital world, patients with chronic conditions are inundated with messaging—but that messaging often doesn’t come close to aligning with their individual healthcare journey.
To effectively reach and engage these patients, it’s vital to embrace personalization and curate content tailored to discrete patient segments, according to a panel of industry experts who discussed the topic at this year’s DTC National Conference in Boston.
“Patients are super-overwhelmed, [so] we really need to meet them where they are,” said Tara Sheehy, Phreesia’s Director of Client Experience, who moderated the panel. “They’re experiencing this one-size-fits-all message, and it’s not tailored to where they are in their journey.”
One meaningful approach to getting the right messages to the right patients at the right time is to address the uncertainty they may feel about their symptoms, diagnosis and treatment in ways that speak to their concerns, said Terry Voltz, Director, Customer Promotion-Consumer at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, a GI-focused healthcare company.
“It’s about authenticity,” Voltz said. “If you really want your content to resonate at that stage, you have to accurately reflect what people are feeling at that stage of the patient journey … If somebody’s looking at your social post or your banner or your TV commercial, and they’re not seeing their own experience in that communication, then that’s not going to resonate with them.”
In addition to reaching patients with content that speaks to their specific needs and experiences, it’s ideal to deliver that content right before they meet with their healthcare provider (HCP) to drive activation. Phreesia survey data collected from more than 6,500 patients in 2022 verified that conclusion: Nearly one-quarter of survey respondents (23%) said they had asked their doctor about health information they saw at the point of care, making it the strongest surveyed channel for promoting patient-doctor discussions. Ongoing, trusted communication with their HCP is particularly important for cancer patients, Roz Silbershatz Tomás, Senior Director, Global Oncology Marketing, Regeneron, pointed out.
“When you’re initially diagnosed with any [type of] disease, it’s overwhelming. But in oncology, there’s also a fear component that comes along with the diagnosis,” Silbershatz Tomás said. “[When] talking about patient-doctor dialogue, it’s so important that we equip these patients with very simple, easy-to-understand tools so they can start that [initial] conversation with their doctor.”
Providing patients with tools and education tailored to their disease or condition also can empower them to initiate discussions about specific treatment options with their HCPs. In these moments, it’s important that patients are adequately informed about and have realistic expectations around specific treatment options, as some products for chronic conditions can take longer to start producing noticeable results, explained Christine Mormile, Director, Media, CMI Media Group.
“Each condition is so different, so [it’s important to] make sure everyone is instilled with the knowledge that this is what you’re going to expect, and that HCPs, patients, and their caregivers are informed throughout the entire journey,” she said.
For decades, traditional or linear TV has dominated the budgets of pharma advertisers. To meet industry recommendations developed decades ago, which call for audience sizes to be at least 10% of the targetable population, life sciences companies have turned to TV where it’s possible to reach millions at scale.
However, something interesting happened in 2022: Pharma brands decreased their linear TV ad spend for the first time. Last year, linear TV represented 43% of the industry’s media mix, according to Standard Media Index data. Brands have increasingly reallocated those ad dollars toward digital channels, particularly connected TV (CTV).
CTV had been steadily growing for years, its popularity only accelerated by the pandemic. By June 2022, the Leichtman Research Group found that 87% of U.S. households have at least one CTV device, which includes smart TVs, streaming devices like the Fire TV Stick, and game consoles. Beyond its popularity, CTV works.
Unlike linear TV, where advertisers have to cast a wide net to reach their patient audiences, CTV offers data-driven programmatic targeting. This empowers pharma advertisers to create campaign-specific patient audiences based on robust, anonymized healthcare and behavioral data, as well as demographics. From there, they can optimize live campaigns while gleaning actionable insights from faster, superior measurement.
The shift from linear TV to CTV is not just a trend, but rather the mark of a new brand battlefield for pharma advertisers. Here are three things to consider as you make the switch.
CTV Can Engage the Most Relevant Patient Audiences
CTV’s superior data-driven targeting capabilities are now enabling pharma advertisers to reach specific patient populations with a level of privacy-safe HIPAA-compliant precision that was impossible until just a few years ago. Consider that, historically speaking, media buyers have always had to cast a wide net based on program demographics when planning TV campaigns – no matter how small the target audience they wanted to reach. In addition, planning decisions were mostly made based on one or two variables, such as a show’s target age or gender, versus the four or more variables that programmatic CTV affords.
Today, it’s possible to reach specific patient populations in a privacy-safe way with the use of machine learning technology, which can pore over real-world clinical data to determine correlations between demographics and disease to create campaign-specific modeled audiences. Machine learning algorithms can even find audience-specific correlations down to a single show or program and automatically optimize campaigns based on real-world outcomes.
One pharmaceutical company and its agency of record ran a multichannel campaign with DeepIntent to raise awareness for a plaque psoriasis medication. DeepIntent’s machine learning algorithms automatically optimized the campaign in-flight, maximizing media efficiencies. The brand was able to increase verified patient reach by 5.7X while decreasing the cost-per-verified patient by 83%.
CTV Can Improve the Incremental Reach of Linear TV Campaigns
For many pharma brands, linear TV remains an effective avenue for reaching consumers. But with the number of “cord-cutters” on the rise and the rapid adoption of streaming content viewing –- which has only accelerated during the pandemic – advertisers are rethinking strategies that rely solely on linear TV.
Notably, they’re realizing they can reach new, unique audiences that their traditional campaigns will miss. One lung cancer drug reached 288,000 verified patients with linear TV. Working with DeepIntent, the brand used CTV to extend reach to 37,000 incremental patients, with a mere 4% audience overlap.
This level of visibility into incremental audiences is made possible thanks in large part to automated content recognition (ACR) data, which allows advertisers to understand exactly who is watching what and when. By leveraging ACR data to plan their CTV campaigns, advertisers can ensure that they’re finding new audiences – and not simply reaching existing viewers. Considering that many marketers say their ability to manage reach and frequency across CTV and digital channels is a top concern, integrating ACR data offers a novel approach to this challenge.
CTV Can Supercharge Other Channels
Linear TV isn’t an outlier. CTV also has the ability to supercharge other digital channels. For pharma advertisers looking to drive audience quality and script lift, CTV as a standalone channel consistently outperforms online video and display media, for example.
However, time and time again, DeepIntent clients have found the best results from digital channels working together in tandem.
One top pharmaceutical company invests heavily in addressable media to support its largest brand, an antiviral medication used to treat symptoms of an infectious disease. Collaborating with DeepIntent on a multichannel campaign, the company’s agency of record found that CTV delivered 2X higher new-to-brand (NBRx) prescriptions than online video and 2.5X higher NBRx than display media. Combined exposure to both CTV and online video drove 4X higher NBRx than display media alone. When all three channels were combined, NBRx was 6X higher than display and 4X higher than online video.
Switching From Linear TV to CTV Represents the Future of Pharma Advertising
Linear TV may have dominated healthcare marketing in the past, but that’s starting to change. Patients are increasingly embracing new forms of media, and it’s time for the pharma industry to catch up or risk getting left behind.
Many leading pharma brands have already recognized this landscape shift and begun trialing CTV as a larger portion of their ad budgets. The result is that they’re generally improving the ROI of their campaigns while becoming much more targeted in their approach. At a higher level, this shift further points to a new era for pharma advertising that’s data-driven and meets patients where they are, in a much more efficient way than previously thought possible.
Clearly understanding their diagnosis and treatment plan is vital for cancer patients in order for them to have an optimal treatment experience. In fact, studies have linked patient education to reduced depression and side effects from cancer therapies. Yet new data shows there are critical gaps in cancer patients’ knowledge about their condition and treatment.
Results from 825 patients diagnosed with or treated for cancer who were surveyed on Phreesia’s PatientInsights platform as they checked in for their doctors’ appointments revealed the breadth of that knowledge gap: More than one-third (34%) of surveyed patients were unaware of how advanced their cancer was.
That’s a percentage that Justin Holko, Vice President and head of the Global Oncology/Hematology Commercial Business Unit at Regeneron, finds troubling. Shubh Goel, Vice President and U.S. franchise head for Immuno-oncology and Gastrointestinal Tumors at AstraZeneca, shares his concerns, calling the statistic “a challenge for our industry to do better.”
Other survey findings further reinforced the conclusion that too many cancer patients are in the dark about important aspects of their condition and treatment. More than one-third (34%) of survey respondents said they lacked a clear understanding of their cancer therapy before starting treatment, while 17% understood their treatment “somewhat,” and a further 17% had little to no understanding of their treatment.
Similarly, only 35% of patients said they had undergone genetic or biomarker testing for their cancer, and 24% were unsure whether or not they had received such testing. The remaining 41% of surveyed patients did not undergo genetic or biomarker testing, depriving them and their physicians of insights that could have informed their care.
Holko sees those findings as evidence of the need for medical, commercial and research and development teams to make sure that every patient, caregiver, nurse and doctor has the opportunity to learn about all of the options available to them. But providing that education, particularly to patients, requires thoughtfulness: When communicating with patients at vulnerable points in their cancer journey, how information is conveyed is just as important as the knowledge itself.
“It’s not just your delivery of the education and facts, but doing it in a way that is uncomplicated, easy to understand, not overwhelming and that makes people feel like they’re equipped with the tools they need to go talk to their doctor or better understand their condition,” Holko explains. “It has to be done in a very personal way.”
Cancer-therapy drugmakers also play an important role in helping patients understand their diagnosis and treatment pathways. “Because we develop and make these cancer treatments, we have the opportunity to be an ally and an educator,” Goel says, highlighting the need “to work hand-in-hand with advocacy partners to advance dialogue with patients and grow our education efforts.”
Additional survey results indicated avenues for activating patients and improving their understanding of their cancer and available therapies. A majority (69%) of surveyed patients said they had sought resources beyond their healthcare provider to learn more about their illness. Online searches (48%), general cancer websites (36%) and specific cancer websites (32%) were cited as the most widely accessed resources.
Meeting patients where they are can better address their knowledge gaps and ultimately improve their cancer treatment, Holko says, pointing to the need for market research that can shed more light on how different patients find and absorb cancer information.
“It really comes down to understanding who your patients are and using every channel available to you to reach the right patient at the right time in a very personalized way,” he says.
Later this month, I am serving on a panel that will discuss how Pharma companies develop “great DTC creative”. While there is no recipe for great advertising (in general), the tactics leading to the goal are the same. Draw attention, make it relevant, deliver a powerful (and if possible distinctive message) and spark action. Basically get the patient to talk with a doctor. When it is done right, DTC advertising delivers an excellent ROI.
For consumer goods, an example of great advertising is the “Like Betty White” Commercial that promoted Snickers. The creative device is a humorous connection between Betty White and the target customer (“Mike”). The TV ad is both memorable and relevant. Don’t be like Betty White, eat snickers, get an energy boost, be cool, play better football.
Is Great DTC Adverting Bold?
While many people (especially advertising agencies) hope for bold DTC creative, it does not happen very often. That is because it either cannot be approved for use or it is not very successful.
Chantix provides a recent example of “funky” advertising creative. Referring to the old chestnut, “going cold turkey”, Chantix questions that appropach. It lets patients know that with its help, patients can quit “slow turkey”. While some patients may find this cute or clever, others may be turned off by the silly reference to their addiction. Like the Snickers ad, Chantix probably draws attention at first. However, unlike Snickers it may miss the mark on relevance and delivery of a compelling message. If the DTC advertising is bold and relevant, it will be effective. Otherwise not.
So What are the Elements of Great DTC Advertising?
Over the past 20 years, we have noted characteristics of DTC advertising which are most likely to produce successful outcomes. These include:
Quickly introduce information about the condition – to gain specific patient attention
Visualize the problem (making it relatable to patients) leading into description of the solution
Use a strong branding device (for Chantix this is the turkey) – that is relevant and ownable
Show relatable (not unusual) situations. While showing backyard scenes can be boring, it is better to show these compared to surreal imagery found in some DTC advertising
Show the brand name throughout the ad
Be distinctive. While this is often very difficult in contested categories, this is where good creative can make all the difference
When possible, use a demo that shows how the medication can help with the condition
If appropriate use testimonials – patients react well to these
If possible, show positive interaction between patients and the HCPs. In this way, DTC advertising can also deliver a positive ROI among the HCPs
In many categories, DTC advertising struggles to differentiate brands. Some complain that DTC advertising does not do enough thinking “outside the box”. These pundits claim that sharp creative would produce strong results. We do not disagree. Occasionally Pharma comes up with very clever ideas, like the “Tubs” used to promote Cialis. However, that should be considered an aspirational outlier. If the advertising can work within the primary guidelines above and leverage a strong branding device (Tubs), great. Otherwise, it is smarter to develop safe and distinctive advertising.
At the Minimum, Great DTC Advertising Should Catch Their Attention
It was always important to quickly introduce the condition and brand. Now that requirement is critical. In most cases patients will have an opportunity to tune advertising out, or to skip it entirely at the very start. On YouTube you have exactly 5 seconds. If the advertising is not relevant to the target, they will skip. And a very large percentage do skip. Given this hurdle, it is amazing to see that many DTC ads continue to build a slow story – sometimes vaguely referring to the problem before talking about the condition. As the clock ticks, viewers skip.
Entyvio DTC Ad Has Strong Elements
Entyvio offers a good example of Great DTC advertising. Right out of the gate (“0” seconds) the spot says, “With moderate to severe ulcerative colitis or crohn’s disease, your plans can change at any time…” Only 1% of the US population suffers from this disease, so the makers want to be sure that the target knows immediately that the ad is for them. This significantly increases the likelihood that the patient will continue to watch the ad past 5 seconds.
Describing Condition and MOA
In its ad, Entyvio also deploys a very effective tactic. It explains that Entyvio is “GI focused” on the problem introduced at the start of the ad. “Entyvio is made for this.” It goes on to say, “Entyvio works specifically in the GI tract to prevent an excess of white blood cells from entering and causing inflammation.”
Patient interest in this type of information, especially when it is creatively visualized like this, is very high. It will trigger both interest and discussion with a doctor.
Great DTC Patient Education
We are also seeing examples of strong DTC advertising that focuses on developing patient awareness of conditions. GSK recently launched a campaign to build awareness of Shingles. One in three adults over the age of 50 experience this condition, but most of them do not realize it. Thus it is critical for the ad to quickly draw attention to the problem and make it relevant to the patient. “Shingles doesn’t care” says the ad. You need to protect yourself against this serious medical condition.
There are many other examples of successful DTC advertising. Most of them deploy variations on the tactics described above. Some are more exciting than others. Our research shows that being exciting is not a prerequisite to being effective.
We acknowledge that it may be possible to violate all of the suggestions we identify above and still produce a great DTC ad. However, so far as we know it has not happened yet.
I decided to use this forum to celebrate some of the bravest and boldest work I have seen over the course of the past year. By that, I mean those brands that continued to re-set the bar for what “excellent” looks like in the DTC space. Those that help remind us all why we are in this business in the first place The following are all examples of work that really stuck with me in 2022. They run the gamut from an out of home stunt to print to innovation and film. All different mediums, but all are crown jewels of bringing great insights to life with exquisite execution.
Agency: BooneOakley, Charlotte Client: StarMed Healthcare Title: “Wilmore Funeral Home”
I remember the first time I saw this striking, unconventional way StarMed Healthcare chose to generate COVID vaccine urgency. It was ballsy and poignant and atypical of how most vaccine awareness messaging was being promoted at the time. This sobering and raw campaign sneaks in with a message that’s seemingly unrelated to the “advertiser”—and it’s one that, once it hits you, is impossible to forget. The campaign was a local North Carolina push as the Delta variant surged. The mobile billboard in the image says it all with unbelievable stopping power that really makes you think. I believe the billboard also offered a quick way to help folks sign up for the COVID vaccine. Really well done.
Agency: Eversana Intouch, New York Client: TheChrysalisInitiative.org Title: “Erase the Line”
This campaign is an excellent use of print in its purist form. Creating such impactful awareness around an extremely important and under-shared fact: “Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.” Hats off to every detail in this campaign, from the core idea of ‘Erase the line’ and the unique visual depiction of the art direction, to even the painstaking craft of the typography. Every aspect of this work creates even more awareness that our systemically biased healthcare system needs. You can’t not notice this work. Nor should you.
Agency: Leith, Edinburgh Client: Justin Edinburgh 3 Foundation Title “The Extra Time Badge”
If a person suffers a sudden cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR could be the difference between life and death. When most people think of industry innovation in this arena, they’d typically think of big partnerships with cutting edge tech companies, but this life-saving approach is the complete opposite. Ironed onto footballers’ shirts in the place where CPR should be performed, the badge contains key information to help people learn about giving CPR. What a remarkably straightforward and effective way to get information to people when and where they might need it. ‘The Extra Time Badge’ educates young footballers, coaches, and parents in the key steps of CPR, giving anyone and everyone the quick, on-the-spot education about how to resuscitate someone in need. It’s great how a Lo-Fi technology as simple as an ironed-on patch can save lives. Such a simple and clever idea.
Agency: Arch Film Studio Client: Human Society International Title “Save Ralph”
This may be my favorite piece of work this year. It touches on a topic we are all aware of, likely feel bad about, yet don’t do much to further awareness or change our habits to address… cosmetic testing on animals. ‘Save Ralph’ hits you in the gut by showing the daily routine of a rabbit tester, while humanizing the lead character with emotions and a relatable back story. Every aspect of this short video hits it out of the park—the casting, directing, voiceover—even the well-written, dark humor script is off the charts. After seeing this I have made a personal vow to only buy products that are free of animal testing.
Constipation affects millions of Americans each year, but many patients have not yet found an adequate medication to control their constipation symptoms, new Phreesia data shows. However, there’s a key opportunity to boost education and help patients get on the proper treatments—and that’s by reaching them at the point of care.
Half (50%) of surveyed patients said they experience constipation all or almost all of the time, and 45% reported having dealt with their condition for more than 5 years, according to survey results Phreesia Life Sciences collected in October and November 2021 from 6,780 adults diagnosed with or treated for constipation as they checked in for their doctors’ appointments. Unsurprisingly, patients’ symptoms also seriously affect their quality of life, with 62% of survey respondents saying that constipation has a moderate or great impact on their everyday life.
Despite the prevalence of their condition, many patients do not have a strong understanding of the health risks associated with constipation—61% of surveyed patients said they understood its risks “somewhat well” to “not at all.” This lack of comprehension points to the need for more education that can activate patients and urge them to address their constipation symptoms with their healthcare providers, which many rarely do. Phreesia survey data shows that nearly one-third (31%) of patients have never discussed constipation with their doctor, and among those who did raise the topic, 41% said they brought up their symptoms in fewer than 1 in 4 appointments.
And when it comes to initiating conversations about constipation with their provider, a significant portion (43%) of surveyed patients said they haven’t done so because they either didn’t realize it was an issue to discuss, or they felt uncomfortable bringing it up to their doctor.
“Patients must first understand that their symptoms are worth talking about and worthy of prescription therapy,” says Thomas McCourt, CEO of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals. “Many of these patients feel as though constipation isn’t a serious condition; they believe that it’s their own fault because they aren’t eating right or getting enough exercise. Once they understand that it’s actually a chronic disorder causing their symptoms, they’re more likely to believe they’re entitled to more effective therapy and feel an urgency and confidence to speak up to their doctor.”
In addition to improving patients’ treatment education, better-informed provider conversations are also key to helping get patients onto prescription therapy. Despite not being meant for long-term use, home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) medications are still the most widely used constipation therapies, according to Phreesia survey data. And while 90% of surveyed patients agreed that OTC drugs are not meant to be used long term, half (50%) of those who have used OTC medications said they have taken them for more than a year.
Reaching patients while they’re in a healthcare state of mind with relevant resources about their condition can help support them as they navigate conversations with their doctor about constipation treatments that are more suitable for long-term use. And Phreesia survey data suggests these conversations tend to lead to prescription uptake, as 32% of surveyed patients have discussed prescription constipation medications with their physicians, and 31% have tried them.
The point of care “is one of the most valuable places for patients to discuss their symptoms and educate themselves about their condition,” McCourt says. Equipping them with doctor discussion guides, prescription savings information and other relevant materials at this critical moment of their healthcare journey not only raises patients’ awareness of prescription treatment options but also empowers them to initiate the discussions with their providers that will drive adoption of appropriate long-term therapy options.
The health care insurance industry is preparing for open enrollment (OE) in the fall. Insurers are plotting their approach for effective use of consumer advertising to drive OE success. There are three unique and challenging characteristics of OE advertising for insurers:
specific, short time period (October – December)
marketplace is cluttered with advertisers
enrollment is a complicated, multistep process
The following are some OE advertising best practices using these three attributes as a guide. They serve as both a reminder and, in some cases, a “checklist” during successful planning and deployment of OE advertising.
Short window demands starting early
Begin as early as possible. Don’t wait for October to start.
Plan your approach by layering awareness tactics first then followed by direct response marketing.
Most consumers don’t respond until the week before the end of the OE window so consider incentivizing earlier enrollment with deadlines —e.g., “get peace of mind before Thanksgiving by enrolling today,”. There may be limitations with government–funded program.
Break through the clutter
It is critical to differentiate in a crowded market and especially given increasing parity across product offerings.
Invest in creating a unique message and imagery.
Maximize the currency and ease-of-use of all information sources and channels
Craft proactive, authentic messages that deliver information needed to make decisions – remember to simplify the concept of insurance.
Robust websites with in-depth and proactive content should feel authentic and build trust with consumers.
Layer in a steady stream of social media content.
Employ a standalone landing page for open enrollment to keep messaging laser-focused.
Deploy a full-funnel marketing strategy
Have a strong call to action that drives to high-touch contacts — e.g., phone, in-person enrollers.
A call center with well-informed, trained staff is key to helping consumers through the consideration process
Valuable to have “brick and mortar” locations
Collect leads from digital advertising.
Don’t forget the importance of direct mail.
Tightly integrate CRM and sales into advertising.
These advertising best practice approaches, when implemented thoughtfully and effectively, can help ensure a successful OE. While these tactics are effective for many consumers, they might not be sufficient to overcome certain barriers to obtaining coverage (e.g., gaps in healthcare literacy, language or cultural barriers or internet access). That’s why it’s important to start as early as possible.
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.
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.