November 23, 2015
Pharma needs a serious health check. It's being squeezed by economic and market-access pressure, cheaper generics, bio-similars and distrust from a legacy of reputation transgressions. Over the next three years, 400 new pharma products and indications will launch and the outlook for two thirds of those is poor, according to McKinsey. Then there is the patient – the unpredictable individual at the very end of the chain who is only 50% likely to adhere to their treatment regime.
Patient-centricity is one way to meet these challenges head on, bringing about more sustainable differentiation, a positioning edge and potentially better adherence and outcomes. Pharma must develop treatments that better fit with patients’ lives and aspirations. But true patient-centricity is no quick fix. Becoming a patient centric business is a question of re-orientating the entire organisation to put the patient at the centre and requires a fundamental change of culture to achieve.
Patient centricity creates a powerful cause-effect that harnesses both rational and emotional drivers. It creates a more relevant and sustainable basis for brand differentiation and better experiences for patients, which in turn has the potential to change the patient mindset and thereby contribute to increased patient adherence.
Pharma is not the first sector to experience such shifts. Nowhere is customer centricity more established and more evolved than in the highly competitive arena of consumer branding, which began its shift over 30 years ago. At The Partners Health we use invaluable insights and experience from our wider consumer branding practice to give us a unique perspective and to answer the question, what can pharma learn from consumer branding?
SIX PIVOTAL INSIGHTS FROM FMCG
1. THINK LIKE A BRAND
Brands have more power than products because they have deeper meaning – helping us navigate choices through emotional connections, informed by deep understanding, which bonds us to them with incredible loyalty. Pharma has typically shied away from 'brand thinking' to adhere strictly to clinical claims. But clinical claims are increasingly threshold – the necessary start but never the whole story. Pharma must begin to build on clinical claims to create meaningful reasons for patients engage, believe and adhere.
2. CHANGE THE MINDSET
Despite effective treatments, many patients are still poorly adherent, due in part to their feelings about their treatment. We need to change the patient mind-set. Patients often resent their treatment because it’s a daily reminder of their disease – tangible evidence they are unwell. The less treatment reminds patients of their disease and the more it’s associated with a better life, the greater the rates of satisfaction and adherence are likely to be.
3. PURSUE DESIRE OVER NEED
Consumer branding long since moved beyond fulfilling functional need and focuses instead on creating and fulfilling ‘desire’ – where needs have limits, desire has no boundaries. Who needs Apple? And yet… Brands that create a more desirable experience, command a premium. The luxury industry is further evidence of this. Thus in a competitive environment, preference and competitive edge is driven less by efficacy and functionality and more by patient benefit and experience. What does the ‘person behind the patient’ desire?
4. RE-DEFINE VALUE
Value is not cost. In a patient-centric world value is more than the sum of a product and its clinical attributes, it is the totality of the experience the brand offers. In addition to its clinical claims, the benefit, life- and emotive experience must be accounted for. Sales and profit are crude measures of value. They fail to measure brand equity, a powerful and sustainable differentiator. Understanding, measuring and tracking the key drivers of brand equity is more useful – it’s indicative of relevance, preference and brand loyalty – a measurable barometer of future growth.
Treatment adherence provides another hard measure to explore from an effectiveness-measurement standpoint – potentially the most value-creating of all.
5. THE POWER OF PERSONAL OPINION
In pursuit of greater transparency and truth, people increasingly reject traditional forms of authority in favour of the collective opinions of their peers. This 'Trust Proxy' has become a powerful driver of choice. How can we help prescribers have better conversations with todays' 'power patients'?
6. NO QUICK FIX
Patient-Centricity is a long-term commitment to deep patient understanding and innovation - applying patient insight to molecule and product development and trial design, which in turn will create a more patient-centric proposition and brand narrative. The transition from a traditional disease-centric model is central, requiring new language and focus. Fundamental organisational and cultural change is key.