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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Patient Engagement - the Way Forward

We asked Melanie Kirk to tell us – in bite-sized chunks – how to build an integrated campaign for the patient

Developing a campaign with the patient at the heart of it can seem a little daunting. Surely it's about sales, KPIs, meeting targets and so on. However, when you look at involving patients in the right way at the right time – even before you brief your creative agency – the impact on your sales and targets may astound you! Follow the simple steps below when developing your campaign…


Before you start to engage patients or produce any marketing materials you need to understand when and where the patient actually uses your brand. When does he go back to the specialist or GP? Where are your challenges – at the start of the pathway or in the middle? Addressing these points at the outset before you start to think creatively will ensure any campaign you and your agency develops stands more chance of working.  


Everyone is potentially a patient, and in this day and age we know people tend to self-diagnose by researching the internet and communicating on Twitter and other available resources. Make sure the information you need to provide is current, correct and honest. Rather than avoiding topics such as side effects, help the patient to understand how to manage them. Get the tone right. If it's aimed at teenagers, speak their language and don't think it will also work for 40-year-old women. It's about education, which can be linked to marketing if done in the right way – your creative agency should relish the challenge! 


Self-management is high on everyone's agenda, and if you can provide clinicians with tools that help them help their patients, you are on to a winner! It's not just about selling a brand, it's about understanding why patients 'fall off the wagon' and stop taking your brand. There are numerous tools available, from simple life-coaching skills for HCPs to pass on, to tent cards and decision aids for patients, to alert cards, websites and not forgetting educational materials. HCPs will want to use your brand – and stick to it – if you can help them connect with their patients.


Look at your target audiences and don't just add on patients as an 'afterthought'. It's not just about educating your audiences, it's about marketing in the right way, saying the right stuff and keeping your brand alive. Be upfront with your agency and keep it informed about all the challenges you have. Your agency should think strategically and come up with a campaign that works across all media that involve the patient.

After all, where would we be without him?




Have you considered what the patient pathway is and where your touch points are?

Have you thought about what materials a patient would need?

Is the tone of the content correct?

Can you do anything else to help the HCP talk to the patient?

Can you provide anything to aid self-management?

Have you considered all channels: print and digital?

Are you up to speed with social media?

Have you discussed strategy with your agency?


Article by
Melanie Kirk

managing director, Pulsar Healthcare. She can be contacted at 

18th October 2012

From: Marketing



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