Mapping The Pathway To The Patient Engagement Spectrum

Every patient travels along a pathway to treatment. That path starts at the health and wellness phase of the journey and leads all the way through to treatment, patient adherence and managing an illness. Most pharmaceutical companies have a firm grasp of the patient pathway as it relates to their drugs.

Along that path, the individual has very different needs that can guide the content creation of a pharmaceutical company engaging in social media. Understanding those information gaps along the patient pathway is critical to healthcare social media success. A person is more apt to trust the company that's been there from the start rather than the company that showed up only in the patient's time of need. Social media relationships should be built to last and not transactional in nature.

But you understand this already. The more pressing question is: what do people want along the patient pathway? What information gaps exist in each stage of the patient pathway and how can those gaps be filled in with relevant content? To begin to form an answer to these questions, it's helpful to understand the changing information consumption habits of today's patient:

  • 23% of individuals with a chronic disease go online for the purpose of finding others with similar health concerns
  • 17% of cell phone users have used their phone to look up health and medical information
  • 78% of home broadband users look online for health information
  • 60% of people classify themselves as visual learners
  • 67% of specialist physicians own smart phones and 75% of those doctors use their smart phone to view medical apps like Epocrates



Likewise, every individual has an evolving "engagement span" -- the types of content an individual prefers, at what time and on what device. All of this leads to an important point: social media strategy requires a robust content syndication network. Most content creation efforts focus on text-based efforts. But all data around consumption habits points to the need for a mix of text-based content along with video, audio, Slidehare and interactive games. And we are not just creating content for the oft-repeated "three screens" -- we need to think about four screens (TV, computer, smartphone and tablet).

The patient pathway should map to the patient engagement span. There is no single approach to achieve this goal. By starting off with a listening program to understand the patient population and their needs along the patient pathway, you can begin to offer the right types of content at the right time. Content creation in social media channels needs to evolve from text-based and at a single point-in-time (usually treatment or diagnosis) to multi-format, multi-device and at every point along the patient pathway.

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