Xpectives News

The DTC National Report: Through the New Patient Lens

May 28, 2015 by Jennifer Kovack

More than 500 DTC marketing industry executives convened at the 15th annual DTC National Conference this past April to learn more about what patients want – and how they, as marketers, can best serve those wants and needs.

The overarching theme of the 2015 event was clear: working with the new patient. Kicking things off was health economist and advisor, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, whose presentation on the new health ecosystem provided a well-rounded layout for the rest of the agenda. Noting that more engaged patients cost the healthcare system less in the long-run, she explained that doctor-patient conversations about costs are shifting from “what a medication costs” to “what health it provides”; consumers are willing to pay more for something they deem to be worth it.

This added value can come in many forms – including a personalized experience. Sarasohn-Kahn cited data from a Makovsky/Kelton survey which found that 88% of patients are willing to share personal information about their health to improve their care and treatment options while 66% are also willing to use mobile apps to manage their health. While consumers want to hear from “someone like them” when researching health information or seeking support, they do also want pharma companies to be actively involved as well. But patients aren’t just looking for incentives – they want help in managing their health. One way pharma can get involved while simultaneously gaining trust among consumers is to partner with another company. For example, she suggested looking at the recent joint venture between Cox Communications, a broadband communications and entertainment company, and the Cleveland Clinic for inspiration. Forming Vivre Health, the alliance created by the two companies will bring telehealth to the home. In the value-focused ecosystem, marketers need to think beyond the medicine explicitly and turn focus to where they can provide complementary inputs to health and the healthcare journey, she concluded.

Authentic involvement
Another way pharma can get involved authentically, noted Howard Courtemanche, is to help fill information and support gaps created by the insufficient amount of time patients have with their doctors. [Pharmacists also help fill such voids. For more details about the Health Renaissance in the Pharmacy presentation by Cathy Paulson of Walgreens and Jim O’Dea of Rx EDGE Pharmacy Networks, turn to page X to read the article they co-authored based on their speech.] Courtemanche, the Global CEO of J. Walter Thompson Health / J. Walter Thompson New York, explained during an agency expert panel that there is a real opportunity for brands to step in and provide necessary information as well as support to help patients better comprehend materials and adhere to treatment regimens. “We need to think of content differently – as a continuum,” Alex Jutkowitz, GroupSJR’s Mananging Partner, advised during the panel session. He explained that patients fuel insights which creates content that informs / educates / supports patients. By thinking of this as a cycle, a brand’s messaging will evolve and continually provide the patient or consumer with what they want or need, he elaborated.

During the discussion with four top-level agency executives, Eric Weisberg, Creative Director at JWT, also encouraged marketers to break out from their conservative mindset to explore new ways of connecting brands and patients. Jim Radosevic, NY President with Y&R, dovetailed on that idea by pointing out the emerging innovations and technologies, in the point-of-care space as well as other channels, which are creating new ways to deliver messages. By understanding how target consumers interact with the different media, Radosevic detailed, marketers can talk with consumers “in a really relevant way that resonates.”

Humanizing the connection
One tactic that appeals greatly is providing a human connection. Drawing from Remedy Health Media research, the company’s Chief Strategy Officer, Jim Curtis, along with agency partner, Andrea Palmer, SVP of Publicis Health Media, noted that emotional storytelling can affect one’s state of mind, which is “the most powerful tool for engagement and positive health actions.” According to study data, 72% of respondents became hopeful when they were presented with an inspirational stimulus and realized they could do better; 84% took action as a result of that inspirational stimulus. Having a clear understanding of the patient’s state of mind, developing a disruptive catalyst to evoke emotion or motivate, and knowing the right moment to share the inspiration elicits hope and creates a connection that will drive consumers to make more, healthy actions, Curtis explained.

Also echoing the value of humanizing the message through patient stories were panelists from The Future of Technology and DTC discussion, moderated by Ashik Desai, Executive Vice President of Business Growth & Analytics for ContextMedia. Panelist and CEO of Health Perspectives Group, Cheryl Lubbert, remarked that patient stories are “a great way to remember complex information.” Acknowledging how multifaceted healthcare is, Lubbert recommended co-creating content with consumers; this will ensure that the information is put together in ways that truly matter to them.

And while consumers also want something that will aid in their healthcare management, “the use of ‘utility’ [opens] a new marketing channel for brands,” predicted Eugen Lee, Executive Vice President, Managing Director at Communications Media, Inc. Marketers shouldn’t fear things like apps or other emerging telehealth capabilities. Ben Putman, the SVP of Innovation for JUICE Pharma Worldwide, noted that tactics available now, such as pretotyping, to explore concepts. Putman explained that pretotyping is like prototyping, but for testing ideas. (His team was able to test four apps in two days by utilizing this approach.) Desai wrapped up the session by encouraging marketers to change how they think when posed with significant challenges. As Courtemanche stated during his panel, “we have the opportunity to become brands of the future.”

TV Optimization
With television still commanding the lion’s share of DTC spend, it is still the best way to reach a large audience quickly. With advancements in metrics, marketers’ investments can be further optimized in this media channel. As explained by Jeremy Mittler and John Stermer, planning is moving beyond demographics and geotargeting to utilize predictive Rx and OTC treatment data. Mittler, VP Analytics Services with Crossix Solutions, and Stermer, Executive Vice President of Business Development for Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS), shared NCS data from Q4 2014 that found “nearly $63 million [was] spent on low-preforming inventory.” Using a blinded case study from Q2 2014, Mittler and Stermer revealed that a previously under-performing campaign implemented predictive treatment data to identify networks, programs, and day parts that would index most favorably for reaching their targeted audience. By improving the campaign’s qualified audience index, it allowed for increased efficiency and reduction of media waste. This led to the rising of the brand’s qualified index for both its broadcast (+18.5%) and cable (+22.5%) inventory. In general, the co-presenters explained, “by leveraging this audience data to buy media more efficiently, healthcare brands are observing 5%-15% in TV-driven incremental sales improvement.”


Jennifer Kovack