Patient engagement: How effective is your digital awareness campaign?

Patients today have more tools than ever to become engaged in their healthcare. 

While more are in control of their health, many are overwhelmed with unprecedented access to portals, smartphone applications, wearable devices, chatbots and dozens of other digital health information channels. 

At the same time, marketers have more tools, targeted media and data to create new opportunities and personalised connections than ever before.

The big challenge for pharma and life science marketers in 2024 is how to reimagine traditional engagement and craft effective digital campaigns that cut through complexity to help patients find what will help them.

Digital health is a rapidly growing field based on a simple concept: using technology to help people improve their health and wellbeing.  

Meaningful engagement means providing the relevant personalised guidance patients need rather than just dumping information and leaving them to fend for themselves.

It has never been more important, or possible, for pharma and life science marketers to take advantage of the power of digital technologies to build positive brand awareness and forge relationships with patients who will benefit.  

The secret ingredient is ‘empathy’

Digital patient engagement is a hot topic and comes with new challenges and jargon. 

While the technology might be new, success is based on the established fact that human empathy is at the heart of every effective healthcare conversation.

Technology is great at finding patients but falls short building trust to meaningfully engage with people who might be overwhelmed navigating a new treatment or diagnosis.  
The way to help them find their way and become engaged in their health is to recognise and treat each as an individual, putting patients and their problem at the heart of your strategy.  

This means understanding their emotional state and what point they are on in their journey. 

Are they at the start and overwhelmed after receiving a diagnosis, or adapting and learning to manage their illness and getting on with their life?

Effective engagement campaigns bring humanity, emotion and digital connections together in a meaningful and authentic way to promote positive actions.

If online research by a patient leads to your campaign page, you’ve successfully achieved the first level of awareness. Engaging those visitors with empathy and relevance is crucial. 

Digital engagement campaign basics:

  1. Relevance: Content must clearly answer users' questions to prevent bounce rates. Omnichannel design will shine here as well. Does your website offer personalised content and smart triggers?

  2. Empathy: Creating a warm, supportive environment builds trust and engagement. Does it help patients take an active role in their care?

  3. Instant Service: Meeting users' expectations for prompt and reliable responses enhance competitiveness. Are you able to refer patients to a real person who can respond to their needs?
  4. Ease of Navigation: Clear design and language that aid easy comprehension, preventing patients of all education levels from being overwhelmed.

What’s next?

With the patient-facing aspect of your digital campaign in place, the next step is to make sure it is integrated within your organisation.  

  • Does your company or brand have a well-defined patient experience statement? Are you clear about why patient experience matters and how it contributes to the business?
  • Are your internal performance indicators part of the planning process and aligned with what the campaign strategy seeks to deliver over the long term? 
  • Are the relevant internal and external performance measures in place so you are measuring what matters?  Is patient experience tied to your organisation’s vision, objectives and performance?
  • Can you see which patient interactions drive engagement and feed this back into your plans and programming?

Justifying medical marketing plans and budgets

One of the biggest challenges faced by digital health marketers is to demonstrate your investment is delivering meaningful returns for your organisation.

Knowing exactly where patients are on their journey means you can measure the shift you have achieved.

  1. Set clear objectives for your digital engagement program and measure progress towards these objectives.

  2. Design how you want to measure from the start and build it into the implementation plans for experiences so you can see what is working and what is not.

  3. Measure success from your organisation’s perspective and the patient’s.

  4. Build in implementation and impact metrics so you can track progress and change course as needed.

  5. Measure the quality of patient experience not just the outcome. For example, you might use Net Promoter Score or sentiment monitoring. It is important to understand how patients rate their experiences, and how you are progressing towards your engagement goals.

  6. Measure the impact on sales. Segment sales data for your target patients and understand the impact over the long term.

  7. Adopt a culture where you are not afraid to make and learn from mistakes so marketing can learn and continually improve.

  8. Consolidate patient data to better understand who and what they seek. Know what data is available from within your organisation. 

  9. Know how your organisation is collecting and analysing data so you can use this opportunity to design better metrics. Digital engagement will deliver reams of valuable new data.

Digital health tech is evolving quickly. Disciplined pharma and life science players that embrace next generation digital technology at the enterprise level and stay focused on well-defined metrics while leveraging data to improve outcomes can achieve great success by improving the delivery of healthcare, enhance patient outcomes and foster innovation in a crowded and competitive market.

Your patients are online – are you? The prevalence of online health information-seeking:

  • 75% of users reported information sourced online via their smartphone helped them make decisions about local professional health services.
  • 72% of internet users looked online for health information within the past year.
  • In late 2015, Google declared 1 in 20 Google searches were for health-related information.
  • 26% of internet users went online in the past year to read or watch someone else’s experience with a health or medical issue.
  • 16% of internet users say they went online in the past year to find others who might share the same health concerns.

End-to-end personalised healthcare journeys, 
ready to be deployed

End-to-end personalised healthcare journeys, 
ready to be deployed