How a Strong Right-Time, Right-Place Methodology Drives Patient Activation


November 2, 2017

Encouraging More Patients to Take the First Step

Getting a patient to take that first step — patient activation, we like to call it — is one of the biggest challenges pharmaceutical, medical device, and clinical trial organizations have. And no wonder; we all know proactively paying attention to and managing your own health is a daily challenge, both physically and psychologically.

The Old Way Is Not Working

And yet pharmaceutical companies, to use them as a primary example, are spending $6.5 billion annually on attracting patients through advertising with limited results. Only 4% of patients are calling the 800-number listed and even fewer, less than 2%, visit the website.

What about the other 94%?

An Activation Opportunity for Pharma, Medical Device, and Clinical Trials

So where are people turning to learn about symptoms, health conditions, and managing their health? Search. More than 60% of patients search for healthcare information online as their first step.

This is a huge opportunity for organizations that are struggling to capture the attention of more potential patients. All we need to do is deliver the right information at the right time in the right way.

Applying Successful Engagement Strategies

Consumer businesses and agencies have refined online activation strategies over the last decade, and the health industry has experienced a lot of progress with the care management phase of patient engagement, too. Why not take what we’ve learned from what is working in both areas and apply it to patient activation?

Patient Engagement Best Practices for Accelerated Activation

We’ve worked with thousands of patients over the last few years at Legacy Health Strategies, and we’ve developed a methodology that is proven to engage patients throughout their treatment journey. We are now using these same best practices to proactively guide the patient to activation. It involves four steps:

  1. Mapping the patient journey
  2. Leveraging best-in-class care managers
  3. Creating custom content, training, and development
  4. Applying technology to help assess and track patients’ progress, segment them into customized content groups, direct more personalized information to improve adherence, and get the analytics and reporting to improve performance

We created a slide deck detailing those four steps; please send me an email request and I’ll be happy to share it.

Improving the Initial Call Conversation

Now compare these four steps to what typically happens. With a call center, the questions asked are mostly “transactional” and more about a qualification and screening than segmentation. And yet we know from experience that a few insightful questions coupled with a warm welcome will give us an understanding of how likely they are to activate in the short term, and what they might need to engage. Once we have that information, we can use an algorithm to segment them and provide more personalized information earlier upstream in the engagement process.

Simplifying the Online Onboarding Process

Next let’s consider the website experience for pharmaceutical activation. It needs to be designed to give patients a variety of ways to engage. Sure, a form is one way, but the current conversion numbers are so small, likely because we make patients jump through so many hoops. Companies may use regulation as an excuse for complexity, but there are certainly ways around that.

As one example, why not provide something of value before asking a patient to take a bigger, potentially scarier step that requires legalese, opt ins, permissions, and disclaimers? Those are big hurdles to overcome to simply begin the nurturing process. Instead, a short email opt-in could provide a download about the 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Psoriasis. Or How to Talk to Your Doctor About Incontinence.

Consumer companies provide valuable content like this all the time to build up their prospect lists and give themselves another opportunity to engage.

Accelerating Patient Activation with Heart

A warm welcome. An engaging offer. Content with WOW factor that’s easily found online. These are all patient engagement tactics that enhance a strong patient-focused methodology for pharmaceutical and medical device companies alike. A methodology that provides the information the patient wants when they need it most, in a format that’s encouraging and supportive and thoughtful. This will fill the gap in the patient journey.

Let’s make it easier on patients to take that first step to proactively manage their health. Let’s apply what we know works in care management and online content and design to our industry for best-in-class patient activation. If you’re on board, I’d love to talk.