Patient centricity has long been a buzzword in the world of pharma marketers, but what does true patient-centric marketing look like? In the MM+M sponsored podcast, “Redefining patient centricity at the point of care,”Julie Cosgrove, director of marketing, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, and Isaac Gealer, lead client experience manager, Phreesia Life Sciences, explored the digital innovations at the point of care that help marketers target relevant audiences at the patient level. The discussion was moderated by Marc Iskowitz, editor-at-large, MM+M.

A new definition of patient centricity

Phreesia’s mission, Gealer explained at the top of the podcast, is “to activate patients and change — in some cases, save — their lives.” Doing so involves what he calls a form of “advocacy” that “engages with patients and educates them about making better-informed healthcare decisions.” This, in turn, prepares them “for conversations with HCPs — whether advocating for themselves, for others or as a caregiver.”

The act of “being patient-centric in your marketing,” Cosgrove followed up saying, entails “listening to patients and gathering feedback.” It’s this type ofpatient education, she added, that defines patient centricity. “When a patient has the knowledge toask the right questions, it helps their doctors make better healthcare choices for them” and ultimately results in “better health outcomes.”

Moments when support is needed most

“How many of us have walked out of a doctor’s office and realized we forgot to ask the key question we’ve been waiting months for the appointment to ask?” Cosgrove queried listeners. Avoiding this type of missed chance is exactly what makes the point of care a golden opportunity for marketers.

“Patients don’t necessarily want to think about their health when they’re watching The Bachelor,” Cosgrove pointed out. “Meeting the patient where they are,” for instance, “at the point of care” by providing relevant “doctor discussion guides or reminders to ask for a specific test, is key.”

Gealer agreed, saying, “Patients are inundated throughout their day with ads on Instagram and TV, but you’re really reaching a captive audience when they’re in a doctor’s office.” And that “office,” he added, includes “a telehealth appointment someone is having on their couch.” Patients are “really receptive” to messaging when they’re “in the healthcare mindset.”

Walking it back a step, Gealer cited a flawed “if you build it, they will come mentality,” among marketers, then shared the results of a recent Phreesia survey that asked almost 5,000 patients if they were using a patient support program. Only 3% of potentially eligible patients said yes.

“Marketers throw up websites all the time that patients don’t use or know how to find,” he continued. A better use of budgets is focusing on “targeted ads that reach patients at the critical moment of point of care.”

Digital can be personal

Both participants agreed that “we’re at a point in technology where we’re able to use all the data we’ve had that was previously housed in silos all over the place.” This“data Renaissance,” as Cosgrove called it, “has made it possible to behaviorally target the audience we’re trying to reach.”

Included in that are the capabilities of “dynamic content,” she added, which customizes experiences similar to a recommendation engine. “You can put a picture of a person who your customer wants to react to in front of an ad” and someone sitting next to them looking at the very same ad, “may see someone different” and be receiving “a slightly different message.”

“With personalized messaging, we can really make sure that patients feel like an ad is for them through precise targeting, said Gealer. “Integrations like the ones we use at Phreesia work with EHRs to pull all the clinically qualified data in a HIPAA-compliant manner to really make that last mile count in the moments that matter most.”

For Cosgrove, an integral piece of the “pharmaceutical marketer puzzle” is targeting rare diseases. “Especially when you work with a disease that has symptoms that present as nonspecific, you don’t necessarily want to blast those messages to a broad audience.” This, she said, “is where our point of care gives us the ability to specifically target at a time and in a place where patients are seeking information.”

Future perfect patient centricity

Gealer reminded the audience that “it was only 15-20 years ago that patient intake was performed solely on paper with a clipboard” and “medical records were housed in stacks behind someone working at the front desk.” The advent of “digitized data” has made it possible to “actually find patients where they aren’t and then meet them where they are, using all of that data.”

“We always have to remind ourselves to be patient centric,” said Cosgrove in closing. “In healthcare companies when you have so many other constituents,” you have to remember that “at the end of the day, the patient should be at the center of the partnership between themselves, the HCP and the payer to improve their healthcare.”