What about the patient?
At one point in time in the life science commercial leader’s world, the voices of patients, families, and advocacy communities went unheard.
Patients, the individuals for whom manufacturing companies work tirelessly to develop medicines for, played a limited role in the commercial picture, as the focus of the planning efforts rested squarely on physicians writing prescriptions. A small part of the pre-launch playbook may have contained patient-friendly material, written through a process of carefully counting words and syllables and word choices. Sometimes even a patient education campaign was included and, with a sizable budget, the ability to translate it. But these efforts did little to encompass the diversity, knowledge, and power of global patient communities.
Rightfully in the center
Thankfully, this mindset and marketing playbooks have dramatically shifted. The people who need these life-saving medications are rightfully in the center of early-stage development to late-stage commercialization, playing critical roles not just in educational campaigns, but in the design of clinical trials, investing in promising research, and even driving entirely new therapeutic approaches. As with any crucial customer, listening and understanding their needs is key to crafting your product development, market development and ultimate distribution plans.
Seemingly small insights open large doors
All insights are valuable. But some are life changing.
Like hearing a woman in her thirties tell a story of having severe chest pain and being turned away from the ER—twice—because her age and BMI did not match the clinical stereotype of a person experiencing a myocardial infarction. She was later diagnosed with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH), a rare inherited lipid disorder. This insight revealed startling educational gaps across a formidable patient journey that required bold, unconventional approaches to diagnosis and management. The manufactures pre-launch plans moved to invest in significant disease education for both the healthcare provider and patient audiences, ultimately aiding in patient identification and improved long-term management.
Or considering the experience of a gentleman in his twenties with Mucopolysaccharidosis type IVA (MPS IVA), who posted his latest tattoo online. It read “Morquio A”—not “MPS IVA”—and communicated two key messages. First, in the event of an accident or health emergency, he wanted attending physicians to be aware of his unique condition and the importance of using appropriate surgical technique. And secondly, he chose the form of the condition’s name that, while less clinically recognizable, served to dissociate himself with other forms of MPS. These insights revealed a deeper understanding of how people with MPS IVA perceived their condition, as well as their relationship to the broader MPS community, and aided the manufacturer’s significant understanding of this patient group. This understanding was crucial to ultimately making their lifesaving therapy available to these patients—and contributed to launch success.
Patients are experts
A recent industry report revealed that 70% of patients and caregivers needed to provide healthcare providers with information on their rare disease. And 60% of these patients reported receiving conflicting information from healthcare providers about treatment options. Especially in underappreciated conditions, patients and caregivers research and own the knowledge on the disease and become the expert. When planning for an introduction of a therapeutic to treat conditions with rapidly evolving understanding, the knowledge of the patient audience is equal and sometimes greater than healthcare providers and must be appreciated, honored, and engaged.
Several ways to harness patient insights in your commercial planning
- Identify and form relationships with advocacy organizations
- Engage patient advisors – from clinical trial design consultation to disease education initiatives – solicit their opinion early and often
- Invest in researching and understanding the patient’s health journey
- Host industry educational events that feature both the healthcare provider and a patient or caregiver – the combination illuminates the full picture
- Design corporate communications with the patient audience in mind
- Read blogs and social posts, attend patient summits, meetings, and events. Spend time in their shoes.
How We Can Help
Even if your product is years from launch, understanding and engaging with your patient audience is critical.
Our experience in patient advocacy, as well as our suit of proprietary market intelligence tools, can help you uncover current perception and sentiment in your patient environment, and point towards potential decisions that can impact your precommercial approach.
Each patient audience includes unique, individual challenges. You can understand them, and take action.
Contact us to learn more about our approach and how we can collaborate together.