Written by Richard Marcil on July 12, 2012
in Healthcare Marketing

It seems that after years of talk about patient compliance, we as health marketers are doing more about it. A combination of factors are allowing this, including the need for better health outcomes, increasingly undifferentiated new products, patient empowerment and self-care, and new technology.

Last week, I reviewed an app from Janssen Healthcare Innovations that helps patients better manage medications using alerts and a journal. It’s a really good piece, certainly of the better such apps I’ve seen. It will unquestionably help patients better manage the daily routine of taking multiple meds, in different doses, at different times.

I wonder if something is missing, though. Yes, the mechanical stuff like medication alerts is very important, makes patients’ lives easier, and should support compliance. But to be on any treatment requires patients to start behaving differently. And that likely necessitates robust upfront education in order to gain patient engagement.

The challenge with upfront education is that, in most instances, the responsibility lies with the health professional, who likely has no more than five minutes to discuss treatment with the patient. It’s simply impossible to cover everything from condition to treatment to drug regimen to non-pharmacological modalities in that time. So what can we do as health marketers to help health professionals help patients?  The answer is lots, especially if we take a patient-lens approach and surround the patient with the right content. And we’re not talking about 10-page pharma brochures written in university-level English. Think more along the lines of Kraft Kitchen digital tools and Red Bull video content.

Equally critical is that we continually give patients reasons to believe in treatment in order for them to successfully self-manage over time. Again, mechanical stuff like medication reminders is important but when patients are asymptomatic (CVD for example) or compliance is just brutally difficult (smoking cessation), emotional and behavioural support needs to be part of the solution. Again, 10-page pharma brochures need not apply. Think patient sharing, buddy systems, stakeholder support, etc.

Let’s push forward aggressively on patient compliance and adherence by better understanding the PatientConsumer™ and facilitating her medical journey.

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