All healthcare transactions begin with the consumer. By transaction, I mean the literal interpretation of the word – taking an action across a set of circumstances. As Healthcare Marketers, it is critical that we understand how these transactions take place and what we can do to enhance the actions that a consumer takes and mitigate any exposure to the hurdles that may arise during this transaction.
When thinking about how we all interact with the Healthcare system as consumers, first think about how we know we have a need – are we sick/injured/in need of help: Do we have a headache? A belly-ache? What is the cause of this? How do we think about the issue and the solution? If it’s minor, we probably either ignore it or take some basic OTC medication to help us solve the problem on our own. The more “major” it gets, the more we start to seek out help from family, friends, possibly the Internet, and ultimately, a medical professional.
Importance of Good Information
As marketers, it is critical that we ensure the consumer has access to good information from the very first thought of seeking help from the healthcare system. We need to know what information is readily available to them through these initial channels. What do their friends and family tell them? What is online? Is it accurate? How do we make sure it is accurate and appropriate? This first interaction with the system is where marketing begins. We need to understand this process, how to handle the initial information, and how we can properly influence the consumer to take the action we would like them to take.
In the case of the pharmaceutical industry, we want consumers to seek out the proper medical professional who can help them with their problem.
We need to ensure the consumer can do this quickly and efficiently. The various channels the consumer follows to find this professional need to be clear and easy to follow. We need to understand how we can properly impact those channels. Once the consumer reaches the medical professional, the next critical step is to make sure that the professional will diagnose the issue appropriately, recommend and/or prescribe medications or treatments that could help the patient, and talk to them about how to feel better.
Once the solution or prescription is written, the next step is to seek the medication – getting a prescription filled for instance. Typically, a consumer will drive to a local pharmacy and submit the prescription for filling, utilize insurance to help pay for the prescription, take the medication home and follow the instructions – compliance.
Ensuring Access to Medications
All of these steps require marketers to make sure the right decisions are made along the way to get our product into the hands of the consumer – make a sale. We need to make sure the medical professional is aware of our brand, knows how to prescribe it –dosage and administration, etc., and actually does write the prescription. Next, we need to make sure that the consumer knows where to find the treatment. While most prescriptions are filled at local pharmacies, there are certain medications that need special handling through specialty pharmacies or there could be an element of mail order or other non-personal access. Marketers need to understand this supply and fulfilment system intimately and know how to make sure our products are where they need to be when they need to be there. Ensuring access is absolutely paramount in the role of a marketer.
But the story doesn’t end there. Stay tuned for our next blog post as we navigate why it is important to understand the healthcare transaction model.