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Redefining the "Patient" as the "Customer": What's in a Name?

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If you have read any pharma industry publications or blogs lately, then you know that there is an industry shift underway to redefine the “patient” as the “customer.” 

So what does it really mean for the patient to be the customer?  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the word “customer” derives from the Old English word for “custom,” or “habit.”  In medieval times, “customers” frequented a specific shop to make habitual purchases from a particular shopkeeper rather than making one-time purchases from random street vendors.  Each shopkeeper labored to maintain a shopper’s continued stream of regular, future purchases known as “the custom.” How?  By diligently remembering shoppers’ sizes and preferences to keep them coming back. 

To become truly customer-centric, pharma companies can learn from the medieval shopkeeper.  Pharma companies realize that they must equip those who interact most closely with customers -- their field reps -- with the tools they need to actively nurture relationships with both health care professionals and patients. These three principles can help:

  • First,initiate a strategy that meaningfully engages stakeholders across the entire HCP-patient engagement continuum.  At viihealth®, we help pharma companies design a strategy that touches every point of the patient journey – including interactions with doctors, pharmacists, caregivers, family members, and an array of health care professionals.  Then we go beyond strategy to implementation by providing the technology-based tools to “make it happen.”
  • Second,drive sales effectiveness by enhancing the experience, process, time-to-market and impact of digital content.  Today’s health care professionals and patients are true consumers of content.  Companies that deliver customer-centric, multichannel sales content to health care professionals with the right messaging at the right time via the right channel are the companies that become trusted advisors to health care professionals and ultimately, to patients.  However, many field reps find it challenging to easily and quickly update, revise, and deliver customer-centric content.  That’s why viihealth® provides a MultiChannel Marketing tool to make it easy to efficiently customize content in-house -- without cumbersome, costly, and time-consuming coding. 
  • Third,develop a repeatable approach to enable and optimize multiple turnkey digital patient engagement programs – across multiple mobile/web devices - with faster time to market and deeper impact.  At viihealth®, our proven approach enables pharma companies to easily deploy customer engagement solutions across multiple brands, therapeutic areas, and locales.

While the debate rages about the use of the word “customer,” we must keep in mind that if the goal is to drive commercial success, then the goal must be to first understand and meet the needs of health care professionals and patients.  Whether you call them patients or customers, like the shopkeepers of old, our goal must be to “keep their custom.” 

Visit  Booth #7 at EyeforPharma Philadelphia on May 2nd-3rd to learn more and attend our presentation, “Patient as the New Customer: Enable Field Sales for a Win in the Era of the Patient” on Monday, May 2 at 2:30 p.m.

Topics: Customer Engagement