My recent ramblings on pharma social media have been very much focused on bringing the patient to the forefront of our strategic planning. This is where the concept of “Return on Health” (ROH) is particularly useful. It lays the groundwork to make sound decisions based on what is best for the patient. Without question, this should be the primary consideration of almost every pharmaceutical social media engagement.
But how is this different from the marketing strategy followed by many pharmaceutical companies for the past decade? One could easily argue that the patient has always been at the center of the pharmaceutical marketing mix. The advertising campaigns, production of office samples and community outreach efforts were geared toward raising awareness at the patient level. In that sense, the industry has always been laser focused on the patient. Patients ultimately drive revenue and every company enjoys padding the bottom line.
The difference with Return on Health is the idea of Voice of Patient. Past pharmaceutical marketing initiatives that target the patient tend to do so with broad messages aimed at creating a demand spike. It’s an attempt to tell the patient “what they should want.” Many old forms of pharmaceutical marketing don’t take into account the Voice of Patient and instead are one-directional forms of communication. The Voice of Patient concept requires a pharmaceutical company to listen first, market second. Patients are increasingly playing a larger role in their own health decisions. This dynamic requires the pharmaceutical company to listen not only to what patients want, but what they need as well. Voice of Patient asks the pharmaceutical company to engage in a two-way conversation with the patient in an attempt to add valuable information to the mix.
Return on Health implies that health guides the decision-making process of a pharmaceutical company prior to engaging in social media. Voice of Patient is what distinguishes current marketing efforts focused on the patient from previous tactics geared toward the patient.
The patient community wants to have a conversation—but are you listening?