Patients are the reason we read the studies, crunch the data, uncover the insights, craft the strategies, and deploy the solutions. Yet not every project allows us to speak directly to patients to ensure that we’re accurately reflecting their experiences, attitudes, and unmet needs.
Which is why we particularly appreciate projects like the following 3 that amplify the patient voice.
- Podcast Series—MS perceptions: Candid HCP/Patient Clinical Conversations About MS
Each episode of this series pairs a healthcare provider (HCP) with a person with multiple sclerosis (MS) to discuss a topic of interest to the neurology community. By exercising sensitivity to address issues like the treatment decision process, recognizing invisible symptoms, and the impact that MS can have on a patient’s quality of life, the series inspires HCPs to have similar conversations with their own patients.
- Patient Ambassador Speaker Bureaus
Whether speaking on stage to HCPs at a medical congress or to newly diagnosed patients in a webinar, patient ambassadors put a face to a disease state—powerfully, authentically, and compliantly. We interview each ambassador to extract the stories that we can transform into compelling scripts, storyboards, and presentations.
Earlier this year I had the privilege of interviewing two young women living with the rare, chronic blood disease paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). Their vibrancy contrasted starkly with the disease’s ravages that they described experiencing before diagnosis. Hearing their stories, I applauded their persistence in lobbying their physicians to change treatments when their initial drug treatments didn’t provide relief. I rejoiced with them at discovering that with the right treatment—the client’s drug—they could again plan for the future without fear of an unanticipated blood transfusion or hospitalization. And I captured their journeys on paper with enthusiasm for them to later share with other patients, offering hope where there had been fear.
In 2021 alone, we seamlessly executed engagements with 90 patient ambassadors representing 6 different rare disease states. In a world of pandemic lockdowns, the patient ambassadors carried on with their important work, in virtual presentations that led 99% of attendees to agree that they’d “like to attend more events like these.” Attendee comments such as “So informative, and guest speaker was inspirational! This experience was much more than I expected!” further demonstrate the power of these ambassador appearances.
- Patient Advisory Boards
When clients seek insights about real-world experience with their drug, our solution is often to gather a group of patients for a moderated discussion. In a live or virtual setting, we use a variety of stimuli to elicit patient feedback on topics of interest, which we translate into recommended actions. Past patient advisory boards have led to the development of new patient onboarding materials, compliance tools, and DTC advertising messages.
Sometimes the insights revealed are surprising. Advisory boards with dialysis patients revealed that the timing of pharmaceutical companies’ patient outreach was nearly as important as the content. The diagnosis of chronic kidney disease can be devastating, and immediately after, patients are often inundated with information. Overwhelmed patients were overlooking our client’s communications. Putting this learning into practice, our client changed the cadence of their emailed educational materials to give patients a window of time following diagnosis before receiving more information.
Healthcare without patients is like a car without an engine…it looks complete on the outside but something necessary is lacking inside. Consider blulava your partner for full-performance healthcare communications.
Brenda Schwartz, Associate Director, Business Strategy