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Is there such a thing as "the best way" to communicate with patients?

Despite the numerous ways and channels pharma companies can use to reach patients, we haven’t yet hit the nail on the head. Personalized Medical Content (PCM) may be the answer.

Pharma companies have made immense progress in the way they communicate with patients. Treading carefully over regulation eggshells, companies are providing patient support programs and are having an almost direct conversation with patients on digital platforms.

Most content we see content is written in a personal tone (“Hello Sara”). It gives Sara information she is interested in, or is based on Sara’s actions and preferences. This personalization can be done by AI technology and machine learning, thereby enabling companies to ensure the right messages are going to the right people through the right channels. However, AI and machine learning can’t teach you what the patient needs or wants.

In order to deliver content that adds value to patients, we need Personalized Medical Content (PCM). A term I have come up with that is at the core of my belief and theory regarding information aimed at patients. And it is nothing like the personalized content we are used to reading on various subjects.

The medical content that pharma companies provide should not be out there to merely give patients basic information about their disease or what symptoms they can expect. Patients can find that information on governmental websites and other health authorities websites.

The Essence of PMC

Pharmaceutical companies reaching out to patients must provide content that adds value. That is because, although content has always been king, in recent years healthcare content has also become the shepherd, often guiding patients through a sea of uncertainty or fear. That is why PMC must be based on understanding the DNA of being a chronic, or long-term, patient.

Let’s imagine a company that develops and markets treatments for Crohn’s disease had only Crohn’s patients working for it, as head of marketing and sales, communications, and even finance. Or that a company that develops treatment for arthritis had arthritis patients working for that company. Would the information these companies provide and services be influenced by the people working there? Would their real-life experiences influence the way they communicate with patients? The straight and honest answer is: probably yes.

Clinical data alone will not provide us with information that adds value; that kind of information can only be retrieved from real-life experiences and stories. That is why it is essential we do everything to learn from our patients — what they go through on bad and good days, on days they forget or remember to take their medications, and what makes them follow the doctor’s orders. It is about understanding the emotional journey and the implications of their condition on their day to day life.

PCM that is truly relevant has a better chance of empowering patients and gaining their trust in us. Only then can we start talking to them about adhering to treatment or changing lifestyles, and possibly changing behavior. That is when we will show them we genuinely care for their wellness and health. And maybe, when they will want to start communicating with us.

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