Pharma Communication and Education for Stakeholders (Personalized Medicine: What Pharma Should Do to Get Ready) - Diaceutics

Pharma Communication and Education for Stakeholders (Personalized Medicine: What Pharma Should Do to Get Ready)

October 21st, 2015

Tessa Sandberg

In Part 5 of the series, ‘Personalized Medicine: What Pharma Should Do to Get Ready’, Tessa Sandberg of Diaceutics discusses how pharmaceutical companies should communicate with and educate stakeholders to ensure test adoption.

Do your grandparents surf the internet to read the latest news, send emails to organize a brunch or chat with friends on their smart phones? Probably not, because why should they? Why would they replace their newspaper, their post and their landline for internet-based services when these still work and they’re used to them? Younger generations have already replaced traditional ways of communicating because they appreciate the huge benefits of new technology—it is easier, faster and gives many more opportunities. If older people live an internet-free life, untroubled by too many emails, perhaps the main reason is that the positive benefits of the internet and a digital lifestyle have never been explained using a language they understand.

As with mobile technology, the pharmaceutical industry evolves really fast. New drugs accompanied by new diagnostic tests are regularly being launched. In the same way that your grandparents may find it difficult to understand technology that moves so quickly, various stakeholders can encounter difficulties keeping track of the many changes in the pharmaceutical industry. Physicians, for instance, stick to the drug which has been on the market for a long time rather than adopting the newest drug and diagnostic test as they do not understand them well. Physicians will only adopt the newest drug and test if pharmaceutical companies take the time and the effort to communicate with them in a language they understand.

A study showed that most physicians do not feel comfortable using genomic testing, which is a relatively new and promising technique, because they do not understand the basics of the test and experience difficulties talking about it with patients1. In addition to appreciating the benefits of a new diagnostic test, physicians need to know about other aspects, such as whether the test will be reimbursed, privacy issues and how long it will take to get the results.

Together with our strategic partner CAHG, Diaceutics has identified three best practices for education and communication with stakeholders that pharmaceutical companies should consider to ensure drug and test adoption.

  1. Educate physicians
    Physicians are at the centre of the communication flow as they have direct contact with pharmaceutical companies, laboratories and patients. It is essential, therefore, to provide physicians with a clear message and the knowledge they need to confidently discuss a new drug and diagnostic test recently launched on the market, otherwise the drug and test will not get adopted.
  2. Educate patients
    The patient will be educated partly by the physician, which highlights the importance of the best practice already mentioned, and partly by looking into their own health care options. Providing additional information to the patient, in the form of a website or leaflets that are easy to understand, will make the patient confident about the treatment or diagnostic test he or she will be getting.
  3. Educate stakeholders according to their ‘needs’
    Pharma should make sure it provides the information on a new drug or test to all stakeholders according to their needs (Figure 1). For instance, when launching a new diagnostic test, the sales force needs to understand the added value of the new test over the older one, while the physician can be informed on which drug needs to be prescribed following the test results. Simple communications with a clear message about the drug and the test will help stakeholders feel comfortable talking about the drug and the diagnostic test.

It can take many of us a long time to adapt to new ways and ideas, but a transition can be eased with simple and clear instructions. The communication between pharma and physicians is particularly important as physicians are at the centre of the personalized medicine communication flow. Ensuring good education of the physician will help drive adoption of the drug or diagnostic test. Watch out for an email from granny soon, telling you all about her visit to the doctor.



Figure 1. To ensure proper market implementation of a new drug and diagnostic test, it is essential that pharmaceutical companies educate and communicate with all stakeholders according to their needs.

1Market research performed by CAHG in 2011


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