Patient Empowerment and Compliance:The Role of Direct to Consumer (DTC) Advertising

Contributor:  James Harris
Posted:  05/26/2010  12:00:00 AM EDT
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It is a given fact that more households are wired to the internet and individuals are introduced to an onslaught of information for various venues.  The internet is a tool that allows individuals to become educated and empowered on a continuous basis. Given this reality the case can be made for the DTC channel as a necessary tool for many cutting edge firms to employ in order to convey clear and concise marketing messages in regard to disease management, products, patient compliance and outcomes. 

Given the fact that the providers of healthcare are a main source of information and patients are dependent and rely on this source, it is also equally important to realize that patients and families are keen to learn more about their medical challenges prior to during and after their encounter with their medical care specialists, hence, the internet via the disease state and being connected to the company website (DTC) is an ideal source to educate, motivate and drive disease state management through compliance.  It might be equally stated that payers are keen to tap into such compliance since it would positively impact their outcomes, fixed and variable cost and profitability.

ORC Guideline recently conducted a survey in the USA of a representative sample of one thousand consumers in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, and region and determined that while sixty-seven percent of respondents obtained their information from their primary healthcare givers, the remaining thirty-three percent responded that the internet was their second choice and source of gathering information followed by television, magazines and radio.  This is a great opportunity for manufacturers to seize the momentum and brand their products, increase their companies’ image and become a trusted partner with their potential patient population.

A key finding within the survey was the fact that consumers agreed that up to date information, efficacy and trustworthiness were key attributes to be incorporated in the material presentation and most agreed that accessibility and clear common sense explanations of disease, medication and outcomes were paramount in effective communication. 

Why is television viewed as a powerful medium?  It is commonly understood that when more than one sense is employed the messages tend to be remembered for longer periods of time.  How can the firm’s website capitalize upon this reality?  A reasonable option might be the employing of video clips offering a different spin on information sharing.

On the flip side typically regulators have a say on what is considered appropriate sales and marketing messages therefore the firm must ensure that compliance is in balance with the take away messages.  Additionally, it has been observed by Ms. Shelagh Brooke, at EvoLogue that a behavioral change must occur and while at first the changes are positive over time patients tend to revert back to their old habits.

This is typical behavior especially when pull through is not taking place.  It is incumbent upon the firm to employ resources to guard against this negative impact.  Therefore behaviors must be changed not only at the patient level but at the support levels as well. 

In summation this corporate strategy is comprehensive in nature encompassing many internal departments resulting in cross-functional alignment coupled with external development of web based consumer and professional oriented designs resulting in pull through from the field.  In order to ascertain the success of such an endeavor the results must be measured against specific matrixes and critically designed achievable outcomes.

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James Harris Contributor:   James Harris


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