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July 27, 2022 Jackie Drees0
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The LGBTQ+ community encompasses a wide range of patients across all races, ethnicities and gender identities. However, when seeking healthcare resources and support, many of these patients feel underrepresented and mistrustful of pharma advertising, new data shows.

Less than half (44%) of LGBTQ+ patients feel that pharma ads reflect their experience as members of the LGBTQ+ community, according to survey data collected by Phreesia Life Sciences and Klick Health from more than 1,500 patients in early 2022 as they checked in for doctors’ appointments. Similarly, only 45% of surveyed LGBTQ+ patients feel that pharma understands their unique needs, with those who identify as transgender or female being even less likely to feel understood by the pharma industry.

This lack of representation and understanding has affected LGBTQ+ patients’ overall trust in pharma, with 2 in 5 surveyed patients (41%) reporting that they don’t trust pharma ads at all and another 26% saying that they trust them “only a little.” And while representation is vital for building and maintaining that trust, outreach to the LGBTQ+ community also is crucial for bolstering these patients’ confidence in pharma, says Thea Briggs, Associate Director, Content Strategy, Phreesia Life Sciences.

“Representation matters, but it’s not enough to address disparities on its own,” Briggs says. “Pharma marketers must actively pursue robust outreach efforts, such as learning about LGBTQ+ individuals’ healthcare experiences, hiring LGBTQ+ people and partnering with community organizations to create effective campaigns, as well as dedicating consistent energy and attention to addressing the issues that this community experiences.”

Those issues range from having higher rates of either being uninsured or underinsured to postponing or avoiding medical treatment because of bias and discrimination. Additionally, although more than 50% of surveyed LGBTQ+ patients say they are aware of many preventive care services, the percentages of those who have recently used such services are much lower. For example, while 59% of LGBTQ+ patients are aware of blood-pressure screening, only 32% got screened in the past year.

As for outreach, many LGBTQ+ patients feel that pharma still has more work to do: Slightly more than one-third (34%) of surveyed LGBTQ+ patients “strongly disagree” and another 22% “somewhat disagree” that the pharma industry conducts sufficient LGBTQ+ outreach beyond HIV and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications that high-risk individuals take to prevent getting HIV.

To improve LGBTQ+ patients’ perceptions of the pharma industry, as well as their preventive care knowledge, Amy Gómez, PhD, Senior Vice President, Diversity Strategy, Klick Health, emphasizes that it’s important to include members of the LGBTQ+ community at every stage of the pharma-marketing process, including foundational research and concept and message testing. Doing so can help pharma companies develop a deeper understanding of these patients’ attitudes, beliefs and behaviors and ensure that those attributes are accurately reflected in pharma communications.

“We can and should use our skills to create empathy and urgency,” Gómez says. “We can partner with our clients and providers to develop model programs that demonstrate the positive effects on community health outcomes when empathy for LGBTQ+ people and awareness of the health issues that impact them help to ameliorate implicit bias.”

And while engaging with LGBTQ+ patients to better understand what they need from their healthcare experiences can help boost preventive care usage, Phreesia survey data shows that greater inclusion also translates into more opportunities to positively impact LGBTQ+ patients’ perceptions of the pharma industry. Overall, 82% of surveyed patients said they have more positive feelings toward pharma companies that conduct outreach to the LGBTQ+ community.

“We’re proud to be using our platform to connect with members of the LGBTQ+ community to learn from them directly about their experiences in navigating and accessing healthcare,” says David Linetsky, Phreesia’s Senior Vice President, Life Sciences. “Our hope is that the insights we generate from this work will help advance and guide efforts among providers and pharma manufacturers to address biases and create more equitable healthcare experiences for these communities.”

Actively engaging with members of the LGBTQ+ community and gathering data that educates providers and better equips them to meet these patients’ needs is crucial for continuing to build their trust in the pharma industry, Briggs explains. However, fostering that trust must be a broadly inclusive, long-term commitment for life sciences organizations if they want to make true progress within this community.

“It’s easy for marketers and public health professionals to fall into the trap of becoming prescriptive— assuming we know how problems are experienced by individuals without asking them and deciding that we’re going to go in with our preferred solutions, regardless of community buy-in and participation,” Briggs says. “That’s not effective or respectful. Building trust and designing effective interventions and campaigns that will be well-received and work in patients’ real lives requires a lot more listening and learning than talking.”

 


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July 27, 2022 Mo Hamzeh0
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It was a typical Thursday morning in Medical, Legal, and Regulatory (MLR) review, and we were about to review a simple branded banner ad for a prostate cancer drug. The team has always been accustomed to allotting 15 to 30 minutes at most to review a tactic as simple as a banner ad, but this was certainly not the case that day. The banner ad was pulled up onscreen for review and within two seconds of it being displayed, the legal reviewer abruptly said one word: “Nope.” Everyone in the room and on the phone was confused, so naturally, the lead marketer asked if there was a problem. The legal reviewer explained that the first frame of the banner ad displayed an African American male representing a patient with prostate cancer, and then the reviewer followed up by indicating that the prominent use of an African American male misrepresented the brand.

Before diving into the rationale that this legal reviewer provided for this decision, let us briefly discuss the reality of the prostate cancer patient population. This year, an estimated 268,490 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. The number of new cases diagnosed in Black men is 73% higher than the number of new cases diagnosed in White men. Black men in the United States and the Caribbean have the highest incidence rates of prostate cancer around the globe.1 In addition to being more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, African Americans have the world’s highest incidence of prostate cancer and a more than two-fold higher mortality rate compared with White men.2

Now back to the MLR review where the legal reviewer refused to review the banner ad due to the representation of the patient in the first frame. You could hear a pin drop in the room when this decision was made. There was an overwhelming sense of discomfort among the marketers, ad agency partners, and even certain MLR review team members, especially since this was at a point in time when we as a nation were at the height of sensitivity around racism and racial disparities, including health disparities. It was at a time when Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) was at the forefront of corporate culture across all industries in our nation. But let it be clear that this legal reviewer was not acting on or making a decision under any racial or prejudicial ideologies or ways of thinking. The legal reviewer stated that we were misrepresenting the brand because the clinical trial of the product we were promoting had less than 1% African American patients represented in the study population. Consequently, this reviewer deemed it as a substantial legal risk to prominently represent an African American male on a branded piece promoting the product. All other reviewers then followed suit and the decision was made to replace the Black patient with a White patient—all because it misrepresented the clinical study population when in reality, it was most representative of our national population fighting prostate cancer.

The intent here is not just to tell a story about an instance that occurred in one MLR review, but to use this story to set the stage on a topic that runs rampant in the pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing and advertising industries. The topic of patients being underrepresented or misrepresented in marketing efforts across various disease states is neither novel nor unique. It has been an issue plaguing the pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing industries for quite some time now. Although many companies are actively attempting to address this issue, especially with the recent uptick in DE&I efforts, we still have a way to go when it comes to matching our industry’s multicultural representation with the multicultural reality. Therefore, the intent here is to briefly highlight just a select few of the fairly recent and successful trends in our industry that are being used to combat this issue, with a focus on three specific points: (1) representative clinical trial recruitment, (2) representative patient inclusion within pharmaceutical advisory boards, and (3) the importance of effective multicultural marketing.

Representative Clinical Study Recruitment

Let us first address one of the main principles that will help shift the narrative of multicultural representation in the pharmaceutical industry, which is the corporate recognition that multicultural recruitment efforts for clinical trials need to be significantly better and truer to the epidemiology of each respective disease state’s population. Ensuring people from diverse backgrounds join clinical trials is key to advancing health equity.3 Participants in clinical trials should represent the patients who will use the medical products. Unfortunately, this is often not the case as people from racial and ethnic minorities and other diverse groups are underrepresented in clinical research. So, while it may seem obvious, one significant step researchers and medical product sponsors can take to confront healthcare disparities is to ensure clinical trials for medical products are more inclusive of multiple populations.

In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued final guidance in late 2020 with the agency’s recommendations of designing and executing clinical trials of drugs and biologics that include people with different demographic characteristics (e.g., sex, race, ethnicity, age, location of residency) and nondemographic characteristics (e.g., patients with organ dysfunction, comorbid conditions, and disabilities; those at weight range extremes; and populations with diseases or conditions with low prevalence). This guidance provides the FDA’s current thinking on steps to broaden eligibility criteria in clinical trials through inclusive trial practices, trial designs, and methodological approaches. In turn, it aims to provide recommendations for how sponsors can increase enrollment of underrepresented populations within their clinical trials.4

Ultimately, this will allow medical product manufacturers to reach their respective patient populations more accurately and effectively through even more targeted marketing efforts. It will also help prevent any uncomfortable conversations around potential risk due to legal technicalities associated with clinical trial recruitment and promotion of the product at hand.

Representative Patient Inclusion Within Pharmaceutical Advisory Boards

It is exceedingly important to understand that now, more than ever, patients of all socioeconomic or demographic statuses have access to self-research medical information. DeepIntent fielded a study in which they found that while stuck at home during the pandemic, people saw more pharma ads than ever and it was not just on televisions, but on computers and mobile devices. The study also found that consumers watching ads and searching for health information online weighed almost equally when measured against their physician-provided knowledge.5

As patients take their health and future into their own hands with the help of digital health tools, they also should be treated as equal partners within hospital, pharmacy, and even pharmaceutical company settings. For this reason, pharmaceutical companies are increasingly employing patients who have experience with the given company’s products on their advisory boards, and better yet, accurately represent the most affected patient populations. This allows companies to capture detailed patient information to inform future strategies and effective targeting approaches.

As an example, Novo Nordisk is committed to incorporating the patient voice at all stages of their product development process. They believe it takes a multistakeholder approach to develop new treatments for patients living with chronic diseases, and Novo Nordisk is convinced that patient partnerships are the best starting point for all medical innovations. As a result, in 2020, Novo Nordisk established patient advisory boards called DEEP (Disease Experience Expert People), which is a framework for placing patients center stage and providing an environment for their input to affect the patients’ care delivery model, as well as future patient communication strategies for Novo Nordisk products.6

Importance of Effective Multicultural Marketing

Multicultural marketing is the process of representing diversity within a brand’s collateral, messaging, and content, as well as speaking directly to diverse cultures, races, and groups. The multicultural or cross-cultural segment constitutes the largest, fastest-growing consumer segment in the US market. This is due to the significant treatment gaps across therapeutic areas that not only represent potentially millions of new scripts but also represent the strong brand upside and a reputational boost from the opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry to improve patient outcomes on a national scale. The multicultural segment is also at the forefront of the consumer movement when it comes to digital, mobile, and social media use and when communicated in a way that is relevant and resonates, has a higher promotional response. To address this growing populace, the number of pharmaceutical companies investing in multicultural marketing teams has more than tripled within the last decade. The good news is that although the industry is a bit behind, the needle is certainly moving in the right direction as many pharmaceutical companies have also adopted multicultural or multiethnic corporate strategies.7

A key part of effective multicultural marketing is that to close some of the gaps, an incremental investment is needed to specifically target these audiences, as traditional efforts can prove less effective. Using Nielson media data, a direct example of this can be seen in a breakdown of primetime TV viewers. When the top 10 English language networks were compared to the top Spanish language networks, it was determined approximately 70% of US Hispanics (18 years or older) are exclusively tuning in to the Spanish-speaking Univision. The data clearly show that traditional investments in the English language TV space are underreaching this audience.7

It is also important to gain the necessary vocabulary and language for essential conversations around cross-cultural marketing and to hear directly from leaders in cross-cultural marketing on how to create a business case for the investment internally and how best to collaborate successfully externally. Consideration of necessary ways to apply existing tools and data sets to communicate with a diverse audience more effectively is what sets apart a truly successful multicultural campaign from the status quo. For example, social media marketing and the content shared on various platforms, should mirror the diverse audience it’s targeting and seek to engage them, which will undoubtedly prove far more successful than those brands choosing to employ a more blanketed approach, designed to appeal to a broader and more general audience. Now is the time for marketing teams to appropriately budget for a targeted multicultural, multichannel approach to adequately communicate health information directly to communities of color through the specific platforms where they most engage. The inevitable result? Better DE&I practices by marketers, better brand visibility and results, and more informed and engaged target audiences.

In conclusion, a key takeaway is that multicultural marketing is simply marketing. It should now be the standard across any marketing strategy throughout any industry. But when speaking directly to the pharmaceutical industry, the main point is that patients want to be heard and most importantly want to understand treatment options available for their conditions, and that especially goes for the most at-risk patients, which for the most part, happen to be ethnic minorities in low socioeconomic geographic areas. However, it will be difficult to notice a significant shift without effectively addressing at least the three trends that were just highlighted: (1) representative clinical study recruitment, (2) representative patient inclusion within pharmaceutical advisory boards, and (3) the importance of effective multicultural marketing. It is imperative that all three items feed into each other, and as such, strengthen each other when done properly. Lastly, it is critical for the pharmaceutical companies in collaboration with all their partner agencies to continue to fight for appropriate, accurate, and necessary representation of patient populations not only as they pertain to clinical studies, but as they are truly represented in those most affected, especially in the underserved ethnic minority communities. Because as many of the team members in that MLR room reviewing the banner ad that one Thursday morning can attest, they never want to have to sit through a conversation like that ever again.

References

  1. Cancer.Net®. Prostate Cancer: Statistics. Accessed July 20, 2022. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/prostate-cancer/statistics
  2. Hoffman RM, Gilliland FD, Eley JW, et al. Racial and ethnic differences in advanced-stage prostate cancer: the Prostate Cancer Outcomes Study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2001;93(5):388-395. doi:10.1093/jnci/93.5.388
  3. Clinical Trial Diversity. US Food & Drug Administration. Accessed July 20, 2022. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/minority-health-and-health-equity/clinical-trial-diversity
  4. FDA Offers Guidance to Enhance Diversity in Clinical Trials, Encourage Inclusivity in Medical Product Development. US Food & Drug Administration. Accessed July 20, 2022. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-offers-guidance-enhance-diversity-clinical-trials-encourage-inclusivity-medical-product
  5. The Patient Perspective: Paving the Path to Awareness, Ad Relevance and Empowerment. DeepIntent+®. Accessed July 20, 2022. https://www.deepintent.com/the-patient-perspective-paving-the-path-to-awareness-ad-relevance-and-empowerment/
  6. Coquerel C, Kuruvilla S, Eichmann L. Inside Novo Nordisk’s Patient Advisory Board Meetings. Accessed July 20, 2022. https://www.clinicalleader.com/doc/inside-novo-nordisk-s-patient-advisory-board-meetings-0001
  7. Nielsen. The Multicultural Edge: Rising Super Consumers. Accessed July 20, 2022. https://www.nielsen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2019/04/the-multicultural-edge-rising-super-consumers-march-2015.pdf

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June 28, 2022 Jackie Drees0
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While the notion has long prevailed that rural Americans live in the “digital dark,” new data suggests that rural patients are actually online just as much as their urban counterparts. And, thanks in part to widespread smartphone and data-plan usage, pharma marketers can now reach all patients—no matter their geographic location—more easily than ever before.  

Still, there’s no denying that city dwellers have better wireless and internet services. Rural residents were found to be twice as likely to have “somewhat weak” to “no wireless coverage” (24%) compared with urban residents (12%), according to data gathered from Phreesia Life Sciences, which surveyed more than 4,700 patients—including more than 1,800 rural patients—as they checked in for doctors’ appointments in December 2021 and January 2022. But despite these infrastructure challenges, smartphones are helping close the digital-access gap.

“There are a lot of misperceptions about life in rural settings, often portraying rural folks as less tech-savvy or less connected to online services,” says David Linetsky, Phreesia’s Senior Vice President, Life Sciences. “We’re really proud to be able to do this work of actually talking to patients who live in rural communities to better understand their stories and experiences.”

Phreesia survey data found that only 7% of rural patients say they don’t have access to smartphones and data plans—just a percentage more than the 6% of urban patients who say they lack such access. Therefore, given that rural patients are becoming just as accessible online as urban patients, pharma marketers should tailor their efforts to meet these populations in the digital spaces they frequent, Linetsky advises. 

“Digital platforms such as Phreesia, telehealth services, and other digital communications technologies are making healthcare more accessible to rural patients and also making it easier for manufacturers and marketers to reach those patient audiences with important health information that can help them better engage in their care,” he says.

The top activity for smartphone users across geographies is checking email, with some 82% of rural patients and 84% of urban patients listing it as an activity they use the internet on their smartphones for. Web browsing rates as all users’ second-most-popular activity, with 70% of rural patients and 72% of urban patients reporting that they browse the internet; and social media rounds out the top three, with nearly two-thirds (60%) of rural patients using their smartphones to scroll through social media, even more than the 55% of urban patients who use the internet for the same purpose.

Considering these browsing and scrolling percentages among rural patients, smartphone-optimized content is a great way to engage them. Even more notably, rural patients most want tools to help them manage their health. Top requests include: personalized resources specific to their health condition (44%); remote physician or nurse support (36%); and resources that can teach them where to find health information (27%).  

“In places with lower population densities, a lot of traditional out-of-home marketing tactics are ineffective,” Linetsky says. “Reaching patients that live in rural communities is best done through the use of digital platforms that are capable of identifying high-quality audiences that meet the specific clinical and demographic criteria you’re looking for.”

Still, in determining digital-marketing strategies, it’s important to note that rural patients find it slightly more difficult to gather healthcare information online than their urban counterparts. For instance, a little more than one-quarter (26%) of rural patients are uncertain about how to use the medical information they gather in an internet search to make health decisions, versus 23% of urban patients. In addition, rural patients tend to consider the online health information they track down less helpful than urban patients do. Fewer than one-fifth (19%) of surveyed rural patients categorized the information they found online as “very helpful,” compared with 23% of urban patients. 

That disconnect underscores the importance of making sure that the online health information marketers provide to patients is easily understandable and based on their specific needs. In addition to engaging with patients in the online spaces they already frequent, such as social media and email, optimizing pharma educational and support materials for mobile devices further increases opportunities to connect with rural patients by helping them build their healthcare awareness. 


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May 28, 2022 Carly Helfand0

Certain cancer screening types, including mammograms and colonoscopies, are well-known among patients. But lung cancer screening isn’t one of them—and even high-risk patients aren’t getting the message.

More than half of current smokers—54%—know little or nothing about lung-cancer screening, according to recent data from Phreesia Life Sciences, which surveyed more than 14,000 current and former smokers as they checked in for doctors’ appointments. And only 28% of survey participants with any smoking history—many of whom also are considered high-risk—said they were aware of lung-cancer screening.

Early detection in lung cancer is key to better chances of survival, which makes the survey figures particularly alarming. Patients who are diagnosed when their cancer is still localized to the lungs have a five-year survival rate of 61.2%, according to data from the National Cancer Institute. But that rate nosedives to just 7% for patients whose cancer has spread to other parts of their body before it’s detected. 

Patient Education Lung Cancer Screening
Image source: pexels

So what can pharma marketers do to help? For starters, getting the word out about who should be screened—to both patients and doctors—is critical. Just last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force expanded screening recommendations to include adults ages 50 to 80 who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and either currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

Now, “doctors just don’t know about it. They don’t talk about it,” Heather Kun, CEO of nonprofit Fuck Cancer, says. And on top of that, “the criteria for being screened is beyond complicated,” she notes, pointing to the pack year count.

Patients need more education around the screening itself, too, explains Nancy Ibach, associate vice president of U.S. Oncology at Merck. Screenings consist of low-dose CT scans, and “people realizing that it is not an invasive procedure … could actually help us help others,” she says.

And he way pharma marketers communicate that information is important, Kun adds. “Make it funny, make it lighter,” she suggests. “This isn’t a big deal—you’re getting your picture taken!”

But boosting awareness alone won’t solve the problem, Phreesia survey data shows. Of the 28% of current or former smokers who said they were aware of screening, just 5% have been screened for lung cancer in the past 12 months, and only 11% plan to be screened in the next 12 months. Those stats suggest there are other hurdles to screening that marketers must address.

For one, smokers and former smokers may experience feelings of guilt or shame that stop them from getting screened. “There’s a lot of guilt, if you will, a lot of, ‘I did this to myself,’ and sometimes that can impact their ability to even undergo the screening,” Ibach says.

In some cases, those feelings may stop them from even sharing their smoking history with their doctors, Kun adds. Destigmatizing the conversation around smoking can help ensure that patients and providers can have open, honest conversations. “It’s super important to get people out of the dark to say, “‘I’m owning my risk factors,’” she says.

Patients in underserved communities may also face additional barriers, leading to later diagnoses and worse fatality rates. Currently, screening isn’t accessible enough for all patients, says Kun, who suggests expanding the technology to a certain number of community health centers per zip code.

Patients in these communities can also be less trusting of physicians, Ibach says. “We have to get into the community with the message, and we have to partner with people who can get into the community and deliver this message from a trusted source who can help them understand the details of it,” she notes.

While the challenge of upping screening rates is a big one, it’s one that comes with the opportunity to save patients’ lives, Ibach says.

“We’ve got a lot of education to do, but I do think if we as an industry within the pharma space can create more awareness, we can really change health outcomes within this particular diagnosis.”


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May 27, 2022 Corina Kellam1

From a revenue perspective, there may be no industry that benefits from relationship marketing more than healthcare. And for rare disease’s patient/caregiver activations, it’s especially critical.

Relationship marketing does what it says on the tin: it refers to any practice that extends the relationship between a brand and its target market, nurturing toward conversion (and long-term, ongoing conversion, when applicable). Any tactic that falls under lead nurturing or retention/adherence is relationship marketing, and unlocking customer lifetime value is the ultimate goal.

Relationship Marketing’s Deep Healthcare Roots

Under the relationship marketing umbrella are some enormous marketing tools: CRM, omnichannel, test-and-learn, and personalization of all kinds. Any one of these is worthy of an article, but when you consider them together, you see why relationship marketing is relevant across the healthcare spectrum.

The highest customer lifetime values come from chronic conditions, of course. More than half of Americans have a chronic condition, according to the CDC[i], and almost half of Americans have two chronic conditions. That alone presents an incredible amount of Rx opportunity. Relationship marketing keeps patients and caregivers adhering to treatments and keeps healthcare professionals (HCPs) prescribing treatments.


Pre-launch, relationship marketing often has a crucial role. Rare’s unbranded disease education initiatives often launch a year or more before an FDA approval of the treatment, and relationship marketing keeps these audiences primed for a branded launch.

Fundamentally, any marketing beyond the first touch is relationship management, so getting a patient to Rx and then to the first fill/administration—all of that is relationship marketing, as is engaging with HCPs via reps or within a speaker’s bureau.

Rare Disease Marketing
Image Source: Pexels

Why Rare’s Patient Relationship Marketing Is Extra Critical

Relationship marketing is probably most critical for rare diseases, specifically for patient/caregiver marketing, because EVERY SINGLE one of those leads may be critical to success.

To understand why, look to the opposite side of the healthcare spectrum from rare. In the biggest chronic healthcare spaces—diabetes, blood pressure, mental health, birth control—brands have so much of America to choose from, there’s some freedom to get it wrong. Sure, no brand wants to get it wrong, but volume builds in opportunity to fail. Test and learns can try bold options that fall into “love it or hate it” territory. Optimization can look for the most responsive audience with the lowest cost per conversion and cater just to them.

When it comes to rare patients and caregivers, you simply don’t have those options. You prospect where targeting shows any decent volume, likely widening the net to go a bit higher in the funnel, then give every semiqualified lead the white glove treatment.

Most rare brands at least include a considerate, differentiated surround sound that speaks to a broad content strategy framework. Lately, we see some rare brands going all the way to omnichannel.

The unique nature of rare consumer audiences’ relationship marketing needs can’t be overstated.

  • SMALL TOWN REPUTATION: These patients/caregivers often have a community established, and they will talk about you in it. When you think of the existing Facebook group, subreddit, or advocacy group of a rare disease, think of it like a small town—gossip travels fast, good and bad. Try to give them something good to talk about.
  • DIG DEEP & DELIVER: These patients/caregivers are in some stage of rare’s diagnostic Odyssey (the exhausting process of getting properly diagnosed and treated). Although the consumerization of healthcare is applicable across the board, these patients and caregivers may know more than their HCPs about their condition. If you give them the same basics found in the first two pages of a Google search on the condition, they will not be impressed: you have to bring more to the table.
  • RESPECT QUANT DATA: Whatever meaningful data you can find, worship it. For example, there’s often a chasm between what information these patients/caregivers are searching for and what content exists. There’s great opportunity for brands willing to stretch a bit to meet those content needs and incorporate search-discovered topics into their content strategy framework… even if these topics haven’t come up with patient panels and don’t resonate with that small pool.

If everyone who guides rare patient marketing takes away just those three bullets (consider your small town reputation, dig deep and deliver on content, and respect what quant data you have), rare patients will be in a better place. And considering the journey they’ve been on, we really owe it to them to deliver.

Connect: www.linkedin.com/in/corinakellam/


[i] https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/index.htm


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March 29, 2022 Monique LaRocque0

Cancer is the word that no patient or family member ever wants to hear, and it is news that no clinician wants to deliver. Yet, it is the second leading cause of death in the United States and each year more than 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer and nearly 600,000 die from it.[i] In addition to the toll on life, the financial burden to the U.S. healthcare system is about $200 billion dollars, and the cost of cancer care continues to rise.[ii]

The good news is that more people are surviving cancer than ever before. There are an estimated 17 million cancer survivors alive in the United States today, and that is expected to grow to more than 22.1 million by 2030.[iii] Effective communication plays an essential role in survivorship and promoting healthy outcomes for oncology patients, and is needed to support early detection, treatment, and care planning before and after treatment.[iv]

oncology patient communication
Image source: Pexels

Several challenges to communication in oncology care exist. According to recent studies, patients may be reluctant to ask important questions about their disease and care, unless directly invited to do so.[v] In addition, some limited studies on the differences in culture and race reflect a positive or disparate impact on the interaction among patients and their healthcare practitioners, demonstrating the need for greater cultural competency.[vi] In their quest for more information, patients may seek online sources where there is a crowded array of both reputable and non-authenticated information. In addition, the number of therapeutic-focused communications have increased dramatically from the early 2000s when direct-to-consumer marketing in oncology was largely nonexistent, adding further to the information patients will be exposed to as they seek to make sense of their diagnosis and review treatment options.

To help overcome these challenges, effective oncology marketing should focus on increasing awareness about prevention, as well as the clinical trials and treatment options currently available. These communications should also drive awareness on emerging therapies and engaging with influential intermediaries who will help patients make difficult decisions about their care, including healthcare professionals and caregivers. Some suggestions for oncology marketers:

  • Leverage the work of stakeholder organizations to amplify the support needed for patients and doctors to provide effective communication tools. This can help healthcare professionals, caregivers, and patients engage with more preventative measures for early detection and to aid in the development of a care cancer plan that can greatly improve a patient’s experience, survival, and overall health outcomes. A new diagnosis can be traumatic, and patients have to navigate learning a new cancer care language, while also managing some of the most important sets of decisions in their lives. No patient should feel like they have to start from ground zero when trying to navigate the cancer care system. The American Cancer Society has a survivorship app and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship has a Cancer Care Toolbox, both resources can aid patients and their caregivers to navigate what can often be a very difficult time in their lives. Resources that help patients ask concrete questions, take home information to help them process their next steps, and choose a treatment plan, will help reduce anxiety and outline a clear path forward.
  • Consider cultural competency training and develop materials that demonstrate diversity and inclusion in cancer marketing, clinical trials, and educational materials. Mortality rates are higher among African Americans with prostate and breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute Communication in Cancer Care PDQ® notes distinct healthcare disparities in Latina patients with breast cancer who are older in age. These patients were less likely to receive interactive informational support from their doctors than younger patients who present with the same disease.[vii] In addition, therapeutic clinical trials are less likely to have included racial and ethnic minorities, which can have an impact on the understanding of how a therapeutic treatment would work in some populations. Moving toward more inclusive communications and authentic engagement that helps facilitate trust can help spur better detection, clinical trial participation, and uptake on important treatment plans.
  • Design integrated oncology communication approaches to engage patients across the spectrum of patient populations. Cancer communication must go to where the people are, where they live, work, and play and to networks and influencers they trust. Traditional ways to engage, online streaming content integration, social influencer engagement, and education on a wide variety of digital platforms can help to reach new audiences through compelling story telling by patients, as well as healthcare professionals. As oncologists are becoming even more technologically savvy, they are taking to social media to share their knowledge and garnering large followings. Real people are sharing their personal journeys and helping other patients find their way, which can lead to greater communication opportunities to help patients. Oncology professionals and marketers can help guide the way to accurate information, while also connecting patients and caregivers to resources so they don’t feel alone in the process, while leveraging the experience and expertise of others who have survived the system and their diagnosis.

Oncology communications show promise in helping to address challenges and disparities in cancer care and can help improve health outcomes for patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals when effectively leveraged. Our nation’s healthcare system and the families affected by cancer deserve innovation in oncology communications to help get the right treatment or intervention to the right patient at the right time. Life depends on it.  


[i] Murphy, S. L. (2021). Mortality in the United States, 2020. NCHS Data Brief (No. 427). National Center for Health Statistics. https://doi.org/10.15620/cdc:112079

[ii] National Cancer Institute. (2021). Financial burden of cancer care. Cancer Trends Progress Report – Financial Burden of Cancer Care. Retrieved March 21, 2022. https://progressreport.cancer.gov/after/economic_burden

[iii] Miller, K., Rowland, J. H., Mariotto, A., & Nogueira, L. (2019, June 11). Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Statistics. Cancer treatment and survivorship statistics. Retrieved March 21, 2022. Accessed March 21, 2022. https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21565

[iv] PDQ® Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board. PDQ Communication in Cancer Care. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Accessed March 14, 2022. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/adjusting-to-cancer/communication-hp-pdq

[v] Ibid

[vi] Saltus, R. (2019, November 1). Study finds racial disparities in culturally competent cancer care. Racial disparities found in culturally competent cancer care. Retrieved March 21, 2022. Accessed March 21, 2022. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/11/studyfinds-racial-disparities-in-culturally-competent-cancer-care/

[vii] PDQ® Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board. PDQ Communication in Cancer Care. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Accessed March 21, 2022. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/adjusting-to-cancer/communication-hp-pdq


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March 15, 2022 admin0

DTC Perspectives, the leading forum for direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising thought leaders names its 21st Annual list of the “Top 25 DTC Marketers of the Year.”

This year’s class will be honored during a ceremony dinner on the evening of April 20th sponsored by PatientPoint, at the 2022 DTC National (part of the Xpectives.Health Summit taking place in Boston, April 19-20th). It includes representatives from more than 15 different manufacturing companies, with each marketer championing both the interests of the patient and brand.

“PatientPoint and I congratulate the Top 25 DTC Marketers of the Year. These industry experts lead by example, always putting the patient at the center of everything they do and achieving incredible outcomes as a result. We look forward to recognizing their accomplishments at the DTC National Conference,” says Linda Ruschau, Chief Client Officer of PatientPoint.

Health Marketing Awards

The Top 25 DTC Marketers of the Year for 2022 are…

Kim Abbasi, Consumer Marketing Director, Xeljanz US Marketing, Pfizer

Katie Baldwin, Director, Consumer Marketing, US COVID-19 Vaccine, Comirnaty, Pfizer

Brittany Blair, Head of Patient Strategy & Solutions, US Immunology, UCB

Kelly Bock, Director, Consumer Marketing, Urovant Sciences, Inc.

Tanya Bowstead, Marketing Director, Altreno, Ortho Dermatologics

Kevin Conway, Director US Marketing, Alexion

Julie Cosgrove, Marketing Director, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

Patricia Crowell, Sr. Manager Obesity Strategy, Omnichannel Patient Experience, Novo Nordisk

Heather Gilbert, Marketing Manager, Inspire Medical Systems, Inc.

Farrah Goldsmith, Marketing Manager, GSK

Sylvie Gondouin, Associate Director, Digital Customer Engagement, IPSEN

Ashley Hallett, Group Product Director, IMBRUVICA DTC Lead, Janssen Biotech Inc.

Craig Huber, Associate Director | Patient Marketing – Mavacamten | Cardiovascular (US), Bristol Myers Squibb

Tammy A. Karas, Director, Consumer Marketing Lead for the Prostate Cancer Franchise, Pfizer

Julie Loving, Insights Director, TherapeuticsMD

Shannon Mitchell, Associate Director, US Media and Integration, Merck

Harleen Parmar, Associate Marketing Director, ILUMYA, Sun Pharmaceuticals

Mara Rastovsky, Associate Director, Global Customer Insight/Diabetes Franchise, Merck

Kaitlin Russomano, Senior Manager, Consumer Strategic Marketing, Horizon Therapeutics

Asako Sakae, Senior Director, Consumer Strategic Marketing, Teva Pharmaceuticals

Silvia Schneiders, Associate Director of Marketing, Antares Pharma

Stepheny Stordahl, Associate Marketing Director, Women’s Health, AbbVie

Alexandra Tudoran, Associate Director, Franchise Marketing & PR, Galderma

Bert Van den Hooff, Project Manager, Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Jaela Williams, Associate Director, Merck

“These elite pharmaceutical marketing professionals are this year’s top contributors to the advancement of patient outcomes via direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical education and marketing,” adds DTC Perspectives Chairman and CEO Robert Ehrlich. “We would like to recognize the faces behind prominent DTC campaigns, because their hard work and dedication to fostering the industry is often not recognized. The awardees were selected from many worthy candidates.”


Established in 2001, the Top 25 DTC Marketers of the Year award recognizes extraordinary DTC marketers from pharmaceutical companies who drive innovation and work towards better patient health outcomes. Marketers are selected based on actual accomplishments, influence on future patient launches or campaigns, or recognized contributions and service to patient communications. The Top 25 festivities include a cocktail party, followed by a special ceremony presented by PatientPoint during our DTC National Conference. Each member of the Top 25 DTC Marketers is also profiled in the annual conference guide publication.

Celebrate with the Industry’s Best

DTC Perspectives offers reserved tables with seating for 10 at the Top 25/Hall of Fame and Advertising Awards ceremonies as well as congrats ads opportunities in our DTC Perspectives Magazine/DTC National Conference Guide, on our website, and in Email announcements. Click here to view awards packages.


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March 8, 2022 admin0

DTC Perspectives, the leading forum for direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising thought leaders, honors a dynamic group of pharmaceutical companies and brands at the much-anticipated DTC National Advertising Awards. The awards are a part of the annual DTC National Conference, on April 20-21; all events are a part of the Xpectives.Health Summit in Boston.

Sponsored by Phreesia, the 2022 Advertising Awards showcase the best marketing and advertising across more than 15 categories. Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners will be announced during the Advertising Awards ceremony held on April 21st.

“Phreesia Life Sciences is excited to participate in DTC National as a Platinum sponsor and to present this year’s Advertising Awards,” said David Linetsky, SVP of Phreesia Life Sciences. “As a leading digital point-of-care company focused on engaging patients in their health, we believe in the power of DTC to activate patients, enhance the HCP-patient dialogue, and improve health outcomes. We applaud this year’s finalists for their innovation and creativity.”

Some media for judging provided in association with MediaRadar.



January 30, 2022 Carly Helfand0

Pharma companies don’t typically market directly to caregivers of patients with chronic conditions. But they might want to consider it, new data from Phreesia Life Sciences suggests.

More than half of chronically ill patients rely on their caregivers to make healthcare decisions for them, according to a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 caregivers conducted while they checked in for doctors’ appointments, either for themselves or for their patients. In addition, another 30% of patients always discuss their treatment options with their caregivers before making a decision.

In fact, a combined 92% of caregivers say they typically take a leading or active role in doctor-patient discussions, and nearly 9 in 10 (87%) are involved in those discussions all or most of the time.

Source: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

These statistics point to a largely unexplored avenue for pharma marketers: directly engaging caregivers. The pharma industry’s current messaging and imagery overwhelmingly focus on patients and their experience, but with so many caregivers so deeply involved in their patients’ treatment planning, drugmakers may find success targeting communications specifically to this group—especially in disease areas where patients rely heavily on their caregivers.

So what should those communications look like? If pharma wants to connect meaningfully with caregivers, it’s important to understand the caregiver experience and the many struggles they face.

For starters, 75% of caregivers report moderate-to-extreme stress related to their caregiving duties—no surprise, considering the myriad tasks they juggle, often without pay and/or on top of another job. In addition to accompanying patients to appointments and discussing their care with their providers, many caregivers also are responsible for monitoring their patients’ health symptoms (70%), coordinating appointments (73%), making pharmacy trips (69%), managing medications (64%) and more.

Caregivers also grapple with feeling ill-equipped for their responsibilities. In fact, 2 out of 5 caregivers (40%) say they don’t have the resources they need to provide optimal care for their patients, even after many years in the role—65% of those surveyed had been providing patient care for three years or more.

To broaden their medical knowledge, caregivers frequently turn to the web, piling up hours of research on top of their long list of duties. Indeed, 69% of caregivers say the internet is the first place they go to look for information that can help them provide better care, followed by their patient’s doctor (53%) and the doctor’s office staff (43%). Overall, 73% of caregivers go online for health-condition-specific information at least once a month, and 20% search online a few times a week.

Pharma marketers need to take this timely data under consideration and create messaging that specifically engages caregivers in authentic, empathetic ways. Reaching caregivers where they’re already searching for information—online and at the point of care—with educational materials, training, medication information and other resources can go a long way toward easing their many burdens, ultimately better supporting both caregivers and the patients they serve.



December 10, 2021 Carly Helfand0

Since May 2018, several calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors have entered the migraine field, with no fewer than seven gaining U.S. Food & Drug Administration approval for acute migraine treatment and/or prevention. Thanks to this influx of new prescription therapies, the global migraine market is expanding, with some analysts expecting to see its value soar as high as $13 billion by 2027. But if drugmakers want to realize the market’s full potential, they’re going to have to double down on raising public and provider awareness, new data shows.

Only about half of migraine sufferers (52%) have tried acute therapy, and only 37% have used preventive therapy, according to research from Phreesia Life Sciences, which surveyed more than 4,000 migraine patients when they checked in for their doctors’ appointments. What’s more, many patients aren’t even talking to their doctors about new migraine drugs: Among patients who have discussed migraine with their doctor, 36% have not discussed acute migraine medications, and 46% have not discussed preventive treatment options.

Those numbers point to a need for more provider education—particularly for primary care providers, many of whom may not be up to speed on the many new treatment options. Since migraine patients far outnumber headache specialists in the U.S.—in 2020, there were just 700 specialists for 39 million migraine sufferers, according to the Migraine Research Foundation—that’s an audience pharma needs to take into greater consideration.

But pharma marketers also need to get the word out and improve brand recognition among patients. Nearly half (47%) of surveyed patients couldn’t recall a single brand name in the preventive migraine category, and the only brand that came to mind for more than 10% of patients was Topamax, an older drug that gained approval for migraine back in 2004.

Source: Mohamed_Hassan via Pixabay

So what can CGRP drugmakers do to convert more patients to brand? For starters, they can strengthen their messaging aimed at prescription-naïve patients, many of whom don’t think their condition is serious enough to warrant prescription treatment—and, in some cases, to even discuss with their doctors. Nearly one-fifth of surveyed patients (19%) said they had never talked to their doctors about their migraine symptoms, and among those who hadn’t brought up migraine with their doctors in the past year, 45% said their headaches weren’t serious enough to discuss, and 38% said they were using over-the-counter medications to control their symptoms.

Pharma also can supply the tools and resources that migraine patients want and need to make treatment decisions. When asked what types of information would increase their interest in a new preventive migraine medication, 36% of patients said they wanted information about its side effects, and 28% requested cost information. Separately, when asked what migraine-care resources would be helpful to them, 36% of patients said they could use more information about how a medication works, and 25% said they would find doctor discussion guides helpful.

Drugmakers who can successfully help migraine patients understand that they don’t need to suffer through their symptoms, encourage doctor-patient conversations and empower patients to actively participate in their migraine treatment will benefit as the CGRP market grows increasingly crowded.