If the image of two people holding hands in separate bathtubs while watching the sun set is all that a physician knows about your brand, then you are going to have a tough time making an impact in today’s competitive pharmaceutical climate.
Every day, products in categories with names like CAR-T, JAK2, PCSK9, and ILs are being approved for new diseases or indications. Additionally, we are in an environment where a large percentage of medical professionals are no longer seeing pharmaceutical company representatives and where doctors are being reported on when they attend an industry sponsored after-hours dinner or lunch program to learn about new treatments. There is also less time in the day for healthcare providers to educate themselves and even fewer opportunities for them to learn about and get the necessary information about the latest medications and classes of therapy. This is where medical communication agencies come in.
Medical communications (in all its appellations), is the art and science of educating the healthcare community. These programs educate physicians about diseases — both common and rare — or innovative technologies that they may not be familiar with. A med com campaign may also highlight gaps in current therapeutic treatments.
In today’s market-access landscape, it is vitally important that a brand be able to communicate its importance and how it will benefit patients and improve treatment paradigms over existing therapies. In a time where new gene therapy treatments could cost in excess of $500,000 per patient, it is necessary to clearly articulate the therapy’s value proposition and show how, aside from saving lives or dramatically improving quality of life, it could also lower the financial burden on the healthcare system.
As mentioned above, medical communications is both an art and a science. The “science” aspect is the agency’s ability to succinctly and effectively communicate about a disease state or therapy. It is also possessing the capability to gather and leverage data that have shown positive outcomes or that may have affected treatment, approval or adherence decisions.
The “art” has to do with the types of tactics, targets, and timing used to advance the strategy. Medical communications agencies build multifaceted plans for reaching and engaging with healthcare providers in an omnichannel world. By understanding the educational-seeking behavioral patterns of targeted audiences, med com agencies are able to deliver their programs on the right platform to the correct audience. Whether the channel is digital, like an online interactive site, or at a live event like a congress booth or symposia; the content needs to carry through the same consistent brand messaging.
Pharmaceutical companies, biotechs, and medical device companies should think about hiring a medical communications agency about twelve to eighteen months prior to FDA approval. Your agency of record should act as an extension to your medical and marketing teams. And the earlier you can get the agency involved to help facilitate the key message development and amplification plan, the greater the odds are of optimizing your brand’s launch.