Written by Richard Marcil on August 26, 2013
in Healthcare Marketing

The diagnosis and patient-start phase of the patient journey used to be easy – in theory.

  • Theory: The physician shares her diagnosis with the patient.  The patient  listens, understands, gets a prescription and fills it. The patient then reads the label and follows instructions diligently.
  • Reality: Unfortunately, this is not what happens in the real world.  Broad industry data tells us that 50% of patients are non-compliant to therapy six months post diagnosis. Why?

Certainly, a large portion of this behaviour is attributable to the patient start. Patients are said to retain 20% of the discussion they have with their physicians. And only half of their recollection is accurate. That’s only 10% of the discussion with a physician. Is that really a surprise?

Imagine seeing a physician for a routine check up or a minor ailment, and finding out you have a serious condition or a chronic disease. What would your reaction be? Could you really listen while you’re processing the diagnosis?  Could you cut through the fog of emotion? Would you truly understand what the physician told you? Would you believe it? Would you remember it all?

Sharing responsibility

Diagnosis and the patient start is such a critical step in the successful self-management of a condition or a disease, yet it’s not something many of us truly understand or adequately support.  Some may think it’s the health professional’s responsibility to ensure that the patient is engaged and “gets it.”  But the reality is that it’s a shared responsibility.  As marketers we should:

  • Have a broad and deep understanding of PatientConsumer™ behaviour, in and out of the physician’s office.
  • Be able to provide the physician with the tools necessary to support a successful patient start.
  • Provide patients with tangible, practical guidance for a successful start.

How technology can help

One of our client’s goals is to get support tools and communications to the patient within 24 hours of a prescription.  Yes, 24 hours.  It’s aggressive if not ambitious but we are close to communicating and “onboarding” patients in near real-time.  This goes a long way toward pointing the patient in the right direction, and supporting therapy and behaviour change.

The good news is that technology now enables us to do the above in ways that we couldn’t do even five years ago – while delivering ROI, especially when considering compliance and treatment outcome benefits. That said, the technology is only as good as the content that feeds into it – what’s most needed is a meaningful understanding of the PatientConsumer™ journey, and delivering the right content, at the right time, to the right patient.

Easy, right?

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