Helping patients to help themselves

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Most patients get a second opinion online before filling a script or continuing therapy. What are some of the most effective ways to reach patients at these crucial moments?

Kevin Aniskovich,
Intelecare Compliance Solutions, Inc.

There are many factors that affect a patient's decision to fill a script—economics, efficacy and trust in the prescribing physician. Especially with maintenance drugs, younger patients are often reluctant to begin medication therapy prematurely. To effectively communicate with patients, marketers need not wait for the patient to go online, but can instead institute a multichannel, on-demand approach. Push marketing is dead. Marketers must permit patient access to information on their terms—and today, that means mobile devices. Mobile tactics provide instant access to formulary and side effect information and can encourage enrollment into RM programs by delivering incentive coupons directly to mobile devices. Mobile programs allow patients to engage on-demand.

Stanley Wulf, MD,
VP, chief medical officer

Patient outreach at the point of an online second opinion comes far too late. If the patient needs to go online to inform their decision to fill or adhere to a medication, the horse has left the barn. The point of patient-physician interaction is the time to provide information alongside a treatment recommendation. The patient must not leave the doctor's office feeling so unsure that they resort to seeking information online, which may be irrelevant or even worse, inaccurate, for their individual needs. Pharma can support an effective physician-patient dialogue by providing unbiased educational information and support systems designed to improve the patient's understanding and comfort level after they leave the office.


Ann Friedman Ryan,
SVP, director of CRM & interactive,

In the age of do-it-yourself healthcare, patients have become empowered to be the primary driver of their own healthcare. The crucial moments lie at any point when patients are gathering info to formulate their own opinion and validate the dialogue they are having with their physician. Patients are using the online environment to engage in dialogue with others to understand their options and gather shared successes. Many are virtual acquaintances who are able to influence the dialogue due to their prominence within communities or their credibility as lifestyle role models. The opportunity to become part of this dialogue is crucial in order to develop compliant-ready patients by providing educational and tracking tools, tell-a-friend viral tactics and leveraging the power of video testimonials.

Jeff Greene,
Director of strategic services, social media,
HealthEd Group

Among the first sites patients visit for second opinions are health portals, like WebMD or So brands need to consider creating experiences on these sites that educate visitors. Those experiences should be reproduced on Brand.coms. But perhaps the most critical Rx influencers are consumers themselves. According to the recent Pew study, 41% of adults who seek health information online have read someone else's medical experience on a newsgroup, website or blog. Wikipedia remains one of the most popular sources of online health info—for physicians. Social media is not going away. We need to work together to figure out how to embrace it rather than avoid it.
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