Patients Are Not Widgets – They Are Our Consumers

Who really are the customers for pharma?

This weekend I was reading the article ‘MIND YOUR LANGUAGE TO CATALYSE THE PATIENT REVOLUTION’ from the British Medical Journal (BMJ). It expressed deep concern for the patients. “The voices of patients and citizens were lost amid responses to the pandemic that was too self-absorbed to consider the views of the people (meaning patients) it affected the most”. (1) The article goes on to say: “What doctors or other health professionals want isn’t necessarily what patients want.” (1) A deep chasm exists. And Pharma India must acknowledge this.

Pharma over the world, till very recently, never considered the end-users of their medicines, the patients, as their customers. Pharma missed the point that patients are the payers and the revenue generators for pharma.

Fortunately, the mindset is changing over the last decade. Patients are given the importance they deserve.

As Ted Levitt said over 62-tears back, marketers should know in which industry they are operating and who the customers are. Pharma is realizing that patients, along with doctors are the customers. The BMJ article goes on to say that “If the patient revolution is to be accelerated, health professionals must be the catalyst.” (1)

Pharma India is in the midst of two fundamental transformations. One is moving towards the patient-centric model of marketing and adopting patient-oriented strategies. The other is phygital transformation. These two changes are essential, as patients are getting more and more internet savvy and are sometimes even ready to challenge the doctors. And the patient-centered marketing model needs phygital transformation.

The traditional commercial approach of the last hundred years is based on a numerically strong sales force, ready-to-approach doctors, and uninformed patients is a passé. A Fierce Pharma article says “Yesterday’s patients, who only got pharma information filtered through their doctors, are today’s informed consumers who actively participate in their own healthcare – and shouldn’t be ignored. Pharma marketers have to become better at creating more consumer-marketing customer relationships”. (2)

This Fierce Pharma article further says “For pharma today, it can’t just be about getting patients on medicines and keeping them on. Once a person and physician have gone through the work and decision-making to use a particular medicine or device, it’s the job of pharma to see the value that person now has as a lifelong customer.”

When you map the patient journey, there are ample opportunities for a pharma company to step in and help both patients and doctors at every stage of the patient journey. Doctors are the catalysts for patients’ health outcomes. The transformation that patients are consumers in the pharma industry is evolving fast. Patients are not widgets – they are our consumers.

Citations:

1.    Abbasi K. (2002) ‘MIND YOUR LANGUAGE TO CATALYSE THE PATIENT REVOLUTION’ British Medical Journal. Available at: https://www.bmj.com/content/377/bmj.o1071. Viewed on 29 April 2022

2.    Bulik BS. (2019). FORGET THINKING ABOUT ‘THE PATIENT.’ PHARMA’S SHIFTING TO CONSUMER-CENTRIC MARKETING INSTEAD. Available at: https://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing/pharma-follows-tech-marketing-evolution-consumer-relationships-agency-exec. Viewed on 22 March 2020

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Vivek Hattangadi – Chief Mentor at
PharmaState & The Enablers

 

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