Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Involving Patients in the Pharma Decision-Making Process?

Here are some thoughts shared by Brandy Gonsoulin, project and operations manager at STINSON.

Marketing 101 says that you should know who your customers are and know what they want.  In healthcare, those customer audiences are usually patients or health care professionals.  And the healthcare marketers' challenge is figuring out which side has the most influence on therapeutic advances.

Extending the idea of listening to the customer, most of us know the concept and value of shared decision making in an organization – the idea that most organizations get better productivity and greater ideas from employees who are able to voice opinions and be a part of the decision making process. 

It’s no big secret that the public opinion of the pharma industry isn’t as sweet as it could be. And since every consumer will be a patient at some point, this is bad news for the likeability category that pharmaceutical companies would like to find space in. This makes me wonder how the pharma industry could benefit from this management model.

What if pharma went a step beyond the immediate consumer (doctors) and involved the patient audience in the decision making process, ranging from anything such as R&D to drug launches to marketing programs. Can you imagine the campaign that would solicit future customer opinion on R&D spending?  Or perhaps, campaigns that would involve the end-user in the strategic development process of a marketing or customer support service program?  Would this collaboration create a happier/more loyal consumer?  And if consumers are happier wouldn’t they in turn be . . . healthier?

What if the scenario above read something like this: “Extending the idea of listening to the [patient] . . . most [pharmaceutical companies] get better productivity and greater ideas from [patients] who are able to voice their opinion and be a part of the decision-making process.”

Patients helping run pharmaceutical companies? 

Setting aside all regulatory arguments against the idea, it may not be logical - it may not even be feasible . . . but most innovations never were in their time either.

Click here to read more in an article in Ad Week entitled "Big Pharma: Tough to Swallow."

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