A Pharma Launch Leader’s 5-Step Guide to Patient Activation

Pharma’s patient activation campaigns are usually built around cookie-cutter websites and follow outdated methodologies. Here is our 5-step guide to running patient activation campaigns, which can form a key part of a launch strategy for any new product

Dan Brown Aug 31, 2022

Dan is a journalism graduate from the UK. He aims to make the complex topic of digital healthcare accessible for both patients and experts, using simple and concise language.

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Pharma launch leaders and their teams are responsible for ensuring the smooth and successful launch of new products. Unfortunately, one aspect that is often overlooked is that of patient activation, with pharma typically focusing far more on those making the prescriptions than receiving them. However, patient engagement and activation should be considered key factors for launch excellence. Here is a pharma launch leader’s 5-step guide to patient activation.

Step 1: Stop Ignoring Patients

The first step is to simply acknowledge the role patients play in the success of new pharmaceutical products. Particularly outside the US, pharma directs far more of its efforts and budget towards physicians than patients. However, alongside pharma’s marketing materials and the opinions of hospital consultants, the views of patients can play a key in the treatment decision physicians make. This is particularly true of new drugs with which physicians do not yet have real-world experience.

Make patient activation campaigns part of your launch excellence strategy and reach your target audience.

Find out how

Step 2: Define Your Desired Impact

Any new pharmaceutical product will face challenges at launch, some of which catch pharma by surprise. The reason we developed our ‘DigiSimilars’ approach – whereby we build a digital replica of a new product based on characteristics shared with other drugs on the market – is to use real-world data to anticipate the expected behavior of patients and the challenges they will face. This can take place years before the launch of a new product, giving pharma plenty of time to prepare.

For a new product, particularly an innovative one, a problem that can occur is that physicians are reluctant to prescribe it over treatments with which they are familiar. In such scenarios, the patient activation aspects of a launch can involve engaging patients and giving them the tools to ask the right questions when discussing treatment options with their doctor. Activating patients in this way can also help bridge the treatment gap that exists in therapeutic areas such as psoriasis and asthma.

You can read more about this particular topic here: Pharma Innovate Treatment Launch Excellence: Getting Patients to Ask the Right Questions

Other objectives can involve helping patients understand the benefits and risks of a new treatment or educate patients about how to operate apparatus such as smart injection devices. Whatever the impact might be, identifying it in the clearest possible terms makes structuring the campaign and identifying KPIs far simpler processes.

Step 3: Craft (Compliant) Content that Engages Your Audience

The word that usually crops up when we discuss patient-facing content with our pharma partners is “compliance.” Outside of the US, pharmaceutical companies are wary of engaging patients in topics pertaining to prescription medications. Rather, most are content with a cookie-cutter website that contains little more than the information found in the safety leaflet.

These websites do little to engage patients in a meaningful way.

However, with a clearly defined desired impact, it is perfectly possible to create more engaging patient-facing content that remains compliant. One key aspect is to have an editorial team with the skill and experience to produce factual content that achieves specified goals while driving engagement. In testing, our editorial team increased in-app clickthrough rates from 28% to above 40% by optimizing the voice and imagery of what pharma agencies considered patient content.

Additionally, it is vital to have experience in the field of compliance in markets globally, and an understanding of topics such as Medical, Legal, and Regulatory (MLR) reviews. You can read more about the requirements for producing such content here: Pharma Patient Engagement Platform: 3 Pillars of Patient-Facing Content

Step 4: Use Modern Performance Marketing Methods

Aside from creating cookie-cutter websites, many of pharma’s patient activation campaigns follow the dot-com marketing playbook, where performance is based almost entirely on clicks. However, insight into who is clicking, why they are clicking, and whether or not the content has a measurable impact is largely absent.

Modern performance marketing methods allow you to target audiences with remarkable specificity, while data and analytics tools can provide actionable insight into user behavior.

While pharma activation campaigns are not marketing campaigns in the traditional sense, the same methods are 100% applicable. Our MyTherapy Campaign Engine targets specific user groups across the web and via the MyTherapy app, while our performance-based model means that pharma only pays for defined actions taken by users within the target group.

If you want to learn more about our MyTherapy Campaign Engine and how you can use it to engage your target audience, feel free to book a meeting.

Make patient activation campaigns part of your launch excellence strategy and reach your target audience.

Find out how

Step 5: Partner with a Company that Can do Steps 1-4

Patient activation is not one of pharma’s core competencies, which is why the majority of patient activation campaigns are outsourced to agencies. However, the lack of attention paid to defining impact, unengaging content, and outdated performance marketing methods results in campaigns that achieve little.

By partnering with smartpatient and using our MyTherapy Campaign Engine to run patient activation campaigns, you can achieve specific and measurable targets.

For new products, for which patient activation campaigns are of particular importance, these patient activation campaigns contribute to a launch excellence strategy that lives up to that title. If you are interested in learning more about our patient activation campaigns, don’t hesitate to get in touch or book a meeting today.