Type 2 Diabetes Patient Research
May 23, 2013
GROUNDBREAKING WAYS TO FOSTER COMMUNICATION AND BRAND LOYALTY UNCOVERED THROUGH TYPE 2 DIABETES RESEARCH
We recently partnered with a major Pharmaceutical company to help them understand how to better connect with the Type 2 diabetes patient population. What we found required us to challenge assumptions and embrace the exploration of “what we know we don’t know.”
SHIFTS IN HOW HEALTH IS UNDERSTOOD AND MANAGED ARE NO LONGER GRADUAL
The healthcare landscape has always been evolving, but recently it has entered an age of radical redefinition. Chronic conditions such as diabetes have rising morbidity rates, creating more and more patients facing long-term health management issues. Advances in technology have made medical information—much of it accurate, some of it not—instantly accessible and shareable in ways previously unheard of. We live in the era of the educated consumer, supposedly, yet it can be hard to gauge how much having information available translates into patients seeking it out and understanding it.
The patient journey with diabetes (from being diagnosed and undergoing the stages of grief to engaging with management) has been well documented and has remained fairly consistent over the years. However, development of new medications and self-management tools, changes in prevalence and public perception of the disease, and the advances in information access are continually reshaping this journey. A patient living with diabetes in 2013 is on a different journey from a similar patient even a few years ago.
WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND HOW PATIENTS INTERACT WITH BRANDS FROM THE GROUND UP
We realized the best way to approach the challenge of connecting with Type 2 diabetes patients would be to let go of what had been previously established and assumed about them. Instead, we would let the exploration guide us. Pure, organic co-creation exercises with no industries, brands, or need states in mind. Creative and projective techniques to capture the essence of what it means to be a person, not a patient, living with diabetes, and what they expect from companies they connect with.
As research progressed, we realized that patients embrace companies that go out of their way, change their business model, and create something revolutionary for the people they serve.
Consumers in research were calling for a fundamentally different approach to what Pharma companies have been leveraging for years: the patient need state. Instead of viewing medication as serving a patient need, what if we viewed the patient as serving a medication need? A medication is obviously worthless if the patient chooses not to take it, but the issue is much bigger than compliance. It involves patient motivation from all angles. So we listened, rolled up our sleeves, and began to re-create diabetes brand communication with patients.
PUTTING THE PATIENT IN CHARGE IS KEY
What participants created was a communication platform that inspires the patient to take charge. It speaks to all aspects of diabetes management and puts medication on the back burner. It creates a trust that brings patients closer to the brand, and a willingness to engage based on alignment with their core beliefs. What emerged: a brand platform that spans a continuum rather than focusing on a single point; a continuum that can be supported by revolutions in technology like patient adherence apps, motivational gaming, and proactive CRM-style initiatives that support lifestyle choices when they are most vulnerable to go wrong.
The Result: Motivated Patients. Not the kind of motivation that disappears in one’s sleep overnight or washes away with time. This is the kind of motivation that plants a seed, a powerful idea that closely aligns with a patient’s underlying hopes. By taking a different angle into the mindset of the patient, and speaking to them in ways that acknowledge their fundamental motivations, we helped to create a brand platform that will re-shape how our client and their consumers view their products.
When assumptions are challenged, new ways of thinking can be combined with revolutions in technology and consumer behavior to create a potent recipe for change. Now more than ever is the time for Healthcare companies to step up and challenge existing assumptions about patients and how to connect with them.