Pharma marketers must be in a constant state of learning and adaptation. The speed of medical advancement only seems to be outpaced by the speed of information. And this information is placing patients squarely in the driver’s seat when it comes to their health and their healthcare decisions.
According to Google, the search engine receives more than 1 billion health-related questions per day – That’s about 70,000 searches a minute. According to Google Health Vice President, David Feinberg, this accounts for more than 7 percent of Google’s daily search traffic.
And, a 2016 Pew Internet research survey reports that 80 percent of Internet users, or about 93 million Americans, have searched for a health-related topic online. That’s up from 62% of Internet users who searched health topics in 2001.
Most frequently patients are seeking information about a specific disease or medical problem (63 percent) or a particular medical treatment or procedure (47 percent). They were also interested in diet, nutrition and vitamins (44 percent) and exercise or fitness information (36 percent).
Other popular health topics include prescription or over-the-counter drugs (34 percent); alternative treatments (28 percent); health insurance (25 percent); depression, anxiety or stress (21 percent) and a particular doctor or hospital (21 percent).
This patient empowerment seems to be enough of a reason for pharmaceutical companies to invest in direct-to-patient advertising. Pharma is currently the 7th largest ad category in the U.S. as ranked by total spending which reached $6.4 billion last year – a growth of 64% since 2012. And, despite the fact that patients cannot write prescriptions, these ad investments are expected to increase.
Clearly patient-directed marketing and PR is effective, and yields results for pharma marketers. In addition to the facts that DTP communications are lucrative and provide positive ROI, it also helps companies become more sensitive to patients needs and the needs of their families and loved ones.
For the past 15 years we have had a long legacy of patient-focused communication and public relations with our pharma and life science partners. I was lucky enough to begin my career with companies such as Sanofi, Bristol-Myers Squibb and J&J serving HIV patients and the cancer community.
For the past 15 years, JFK Communications has held a strong focus on the importance of patient-centric public relations and communications. And, while the Internet is an efficient, global medium, we remain channel agnostic, as most patients require multiple messages, in multiple channels before they decide to act.
When building your strategic marketing plan, please make sure you invest in direct-to-patient communication and PR activities. And ensure that your marketing and PR work takes into consideration the needs, and the power, of the patient.