Many of us were drawn to the healthcare industry because of the potential to make a difference—but sometimes, the work can get in the way of the mission. We can get so deep into the day-to-day that we forget about the purpose behind it.
Twenty years ago, my career began with the launch of Teva’s Copaxone for multiple sclerosis. A major plank in its marketing platform was patient support, and my role was to create its online component. In the late 1990s, this was revolutionary. The team had reservations—and they made sense. After all, at the time there were very few patients in the U.S. who even had computers! To address that, we worked with the MS Society to provide donated computers to patients. Those dozens of computers were the seeds of what would grow into a thriving online community of 60,000.
When I left Teva to found Intouch, I built it on the same premise: Harnessing technology to help brands support patients. The future of marketing is customer experience, and in a world where payment increasingly depends upon outcomes, healthcare must become more customer-focused and results-driven.
I know that’s easy to say and harder to do. Often, teams are pressured to demonstrate a quick impact. To make a difference, the investment should be long term, but it’s far easier to turn things over to a reimbursement company.
Patient Services Demonstrate Value
Often, patient support programs can be limited and siloed. Many exclude adherence assistance, psychosocial support, or peer communication. Often, the solution to minimize investment and risk is to offer minimal services. In this election year, though, drug pricing is in the spotlight and patient services are a powerful way we can demonstrate value.
It’s difficult to underestimate the impact true support can have. Human interaction is memorable and meaningful. It’s the difference between a transaction and a relationship.
In my opinion, we must take a two-pronged approach:
- Use technology to focus on humanity and relationships, and create tools to that end that people will actually use.
- Regularly reconnect with the people our work benefits: The patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals who use our brands.
I’m proud of a program we launched [in 2016], called #ALLin, which gives our employees the chance to interact with patients and caregivers and remember why we do our work. I’ve found it an honor. Also, we want to learn from patients. We can’t all invent life-saving drugs, but together, we can create tools to help people.
It’s natural to forget the importance of our work when we find ourselves in the morass of meetings and emails. Interacting with patients can bring us back to our purpose and help us make better decisions. It’s not just nice to do. It’s the whole point.
This post originally appeared in PM360 and is reprinted here with permission.