The Future of Pharma: Building Powerful Audiences In A Digital World (Part 2)

Mar 30, 2022 | Audience Intelligence, Healthcare

The Coronavirus pandemic has challenged business practices of almost every industry, and the pharmaceutical world is no exception. In this two part blog series, we’re taking a look at how the pharmaceutical industry adapted to these unexpected changes and evolved into a more future-proof model.

In part 1 of our series, we focused on finding new ways to connect with physicians during social distancing and lockdowns. Today, we’ll shift the focus towards patients and their caregivers, unchartered territory opened up by embracing digital.

Rethinking The HIPAA Challenge

Marketing treatment options directly to patients and caregivers is not a typical practice of pharmaceutical companies, mainly due to HIPAA. There’s no question that a patient’s medical history should be off limits.

Pre-pandemic, the pharmaceutical world was slow to adopt digital technology, but has largely embraced it since. It’s this shift in thinking that has given big pharma the ability to connect with patients and caregivers directly to provide information about new treatment options, in a privacy compliant manner.

While some see this as intrusive, others see it as empowering patients to take control of their health by knowing all their options. Doctors have largely been the gate-keepers of drug information for decades. But many believe that patients deserve to be well-informed about all of their options for managing underlying conditions.

Using social audiences insights to reach and inform probable patients

Until recently, if a pharmaceutical company wanted to get information about new treatment options in front of patients, they were forced to rely on broad demographics and cast a wide net hoping some of their intended audience would see their ad. Not only is this inefficient and expensive, but it’s also off-putting to people who found the ad irrelevant.

Social audience insights solves this by giving pharmaceutical companies a more direct line to their target audience, allowing them to go beyond basic demographic data to identify those engaging in relevant content related to various health issues, including influencers, medical journals, YouTube channels, etc.

So how does this work? For the purposes of this example, let’s focus on a pharmaceutical brand providing treatment options for those suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). By identifying individuals engaging with MS-related content or following MS-specific community forums and social pages, the pharma brand can draw the conclusion that these individuals are at minimum interested in the topic or directly impacted, either personally or second-hand. By mapping these individuals to high value content, the pharmaceutical company can directly reach these probable patients and their caregivers with advertising campaigns, new treatment options and drug information while remaining fully HIPAA-compliant.

How pharmaceutical and healthcare companies can also use social audience data to better understand and reach probable patients and caregivers:

  • Paid media targeting; view the media channels they engage on most
  • Influencer partnerships; find influencers that are public about their ailment or disease that your audience engages with
  • Audience intelligence; understand what drives purchase decisions, interests, and passions to inform messaging strategy and persona creation
  • Survey outreach; through paid media targeting, deploy surveys to understand the needs of an audience

Empowering patients to take control of their health

Social audience insights offer a HIPAA-compliant way for pharmaceutical companies to effectively reach their target audience. But the bigger benefit is actually for the patients and caregivers who have access to information they otherwise wouldn’t.

Targeted ads aren’t the only thing pharmaceutical companies can do with the insights gleaned from social audience data. They can use it as an opportunity to educate their audience and create a more open dialogue about treatment options by creating content (podcasts, infographics, videos, etc.) that resonates with them on the channels they prefer. Knowledge is power, and moving towards a future where patients and caregivers have access to the information needed coupled with recommendations from your medical team allows patients to make the best health care decisions possible. Something we can all get behind.


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