Patient-Provider Dialogue: Your Brand Depends On It

March 17, 2017

This is the first of 3 Expert on Call articles that MicroMass will write for PM360 magazine. The articles will all focus on patient-provider dialogue and its importance to pharma brands.

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An excerpt from our article in PM360.
The most important conversation a patient has is with his or her provider. And when gaps occur in the treatment discussion, your brand may be missing an opportunity to reach its full potential. To fully recognize the gaps and opportunities regarding patient-provider dialogue, let’s look at the conversation from the perspective of both, the patient and provider.

I’m fine. Really.
For a moment, consider you’re a patient with a chronic disease. Every day you make decisions (maybe hundreds of them) regarding your health. Decisions about what to eat or whether or not to exercise, how to manage your symptoms, how often you take your medicine, or whether you take it at all. Decisions weighing medication cost and side effects against symptom control. Decisions to put your daughter’s health ahead of your own.

Now imagine sitting in an exam room during a routine doctor appointment. You are tired but not in pain. Remarkably, this day has been a good one, considering the succession of bad days you’ve recently had. You like your doctor and want her to be proud of how you’re doing. So when she asks, you simply respond with, “I’m fine.” You tell yourself that you just need to get through the labs and then the stress will be over. Your labs are good. Check. Your doctor says that everything looks good. Check. She refills your prescription. Check.

Could my symptoms be improved? My treatment seems to be working. Just stick with it. Besides, my labs are good. She said so herself. These are thoughts that cross your mind, but are not concerns you bring up.

Keep up the good work.
Now, let’s switch places. You are the provider. You notice the smile on your patient’s face. His color looks good and he’s cleaned up. You laugh at his funny remark, and think to yourself: That’s good. He’s feeling well enough to take care of himself and to laugh. You ask how his work is going, and he admits he missed a few days during the last couple of weeks.

Even though his labs are satisfactory, you are seeing a trend. That, coupled with his days off work, has you a little concerned. Is it the beginning of another decline? When you ask about his daughter, his face changes. You don’t pry, but you can tell she’s not doing well—that means he has even more on his plate. There’s an opportunity for you to be more aggressive with his treatment, but is it the right time? Could he handle it? Maybe it’s better to not overload him with a new treatment. You decide you will talk to him about a more aggressive approach at his next appointment. Your nurse interrupts and says there’s a situation across the hall that needs your attention. You shake his hand, tell him you want to see him again next month, and encourage him to keep up the good work.

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