Patient engagement is critical for an effective patient-centric strategy that starts with research and development (R&D) and continues through clinical trials, post-market patient education, and point of care.
A recent health and life sciences experience survey revealed 67% of patients worldwide had negative healthcare experiences. In another study, 50% of healthcare consumers agreed that a bad digital experience with a healthcare provider would ruin the entire experience with that provider. Both reports, however, pointed towards the same solution: good digital interaction has a major influence on the patient experience.
What does this mean for life sciences companies? The need to embrace digital technologies that support the patient journey and prioritize content that’s relevant and individualized is essential in order to be truly patient-centric.
Why patient-centric content matters for engagement
The power of patient-centric content in boosting engagement is threefold:
- It increases patient involvement and understanding of their health conditions, treatments and self-monitoring (also known as patient activation)
- It accelerates drug development and improves patient access to new treatments
- It improves patient adherence to prescribed treatments, leading to better health outcomes and reduced costs associated with non-adherence.
To build an effective patient engagement strategy, there are three key areas to focus on:
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 80% of clinical trials in the United States fail to meet their patient recruitment timelines.
Connecting with potential study participants is the first crucial step for any clinical study. Recruitment materials must be crafted carefully for diverse linguistic, sociological, cultural and possibly even technological contexts. Just think of the different content requirements for social media, websites, blogs, patient forums, prescreening questionnaires, scripts used by study team members with potential patients, video, and print ads. All of this content must be tailored for the specific media channel.
Taking part in a clinical trial is a highly personal and sensitive matter. This makes it even more crucial to approach every potential participant in their respective language and in a locally appropriate way.
Patient education is crucial for promoting better health outcomes, improving quality of life, and reducing healthcare costs. Educating patients empowers them to make informed decisions, promotes compliance with prescribed treatments, and prevents complications. It also promotes healthy behaviors and communication between patients and healthcare providers.
Educational materials for chronic conditions, disease information, and therapeutic areas need to be readable for the layperson. This obviously requires all content to be available in the language spoken by the patient, using culturally appropriate language.
Point of care
Patient-centric content is critical for patient engagement in point-of-care settings because it helps to create a more personalized and relevant experience.
Of course, the growth in telehealth and remote patient platforms will never fully substitute face-to-face, hands-on interaction with the patient completely. But it will take over even bigger shares in the future. This opens up an increasing need for content to be highly customized and engaging to a vast diversity of end-users accessing care from home.
There are already several research studies supporting the need for patient-centric content in healthcare and telehealth specifically. A review of personalized e-health interventions found that it was effective in promoting behavior change and improving health outcomes. Similarly, another study noted that patient-centric approaches to patient-generated health data (PGHD) collection and communication can improve patient engagement and satisfaction, as well as promote better health outcomes.
How can traditional consumer digital strategies help?
In today's digital age, traditional consumer marketing strategies have proven to be effective in engaging customers and driving sales. But how can these strategies help improve patient engagement? Leveraging best practices from consumer digital engagement would be an effective way to take a fresh approach to patient engagement.
We highlight below what lessons we can draw from digital strategies applied in other industries and how to adapt them to build communities of engaged patients and create a more patient-centered approach to care.
Just as consumer digital marketing strategies use personalized content to drive engagement, healthcare providers can use personalized content to better engage with patients.
You can personalize digital content to meet the unique needs of individual patients, including their health conditions, cultural backgrounds, and language preferences. Data analytics, content creation (or copywriting), translation, and transcreation become instrumental to tailor your digital content and make it accessible to an international audience.
Translation breaks down language barriers and makes healthcare information and services more accessible.
Additionally, providing multilingual content on websites, patient portals, and educational materials can also be a way to demonstrate cultural competence and inclusivity, which can lead to increased patient loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
Collaboration between study design teams and translation providers allows linguists to find out as much as possible about the clinical trial and the patient populations. A translation feasibility assessment identifies potential issues with the source materials that may not be culturally appropriate in other languages and in other cultures.
A clear understanding and detailed instructions will be key for translators to understand all the subtleties and intent of the content/message. If education is a crucial element for patients to know more about clinical trials or drug/therapeutic products and their benefits, then translators play a vital role in making sure the content and message is as clear as possible, regardless of language.
While faithful to the source text, standard translation might fall short when it comes to culturally adjusting content to the expectations of different patient audiences. More patient-centric content calls for more creative translation to engage the patient. Transcreation is about taking a concept in one language and completely recreating it, keeping the essence of your message, but culturally adapting style and voice for the intended patient.
To bring your international patient engagement strategy to life, you need content produced in a master language that’s then adapted to different audiences through translation or transcreation.
However, for specific markets or content formats, writing unique content for each locale is the most effective alternative. International medical writers, familiar with the cultural nuances of each region, create content that is meaningful to local audiences and is designed to attract and engage them.
Eurostat shows over half of EU citizens seek health information online, with a huge increase in most countries in the last 10 years. Multi-channel, all-inclusive, geo-specific SEO strategies that capitalize on patient-centric content help you stand out from the competition. In other words, your content ranks higher on search engines, and patients find answers to their questions faster and more easily.
Whether it’s setting up international websites or multilingual study landing pages, developing social media recruitment content or creating content for digital platforms, tailoring SEO tactics to different languages and cultures is key.
Interactive content formats can make the patient experience fun and rewarding, while helping them better understand their health conditions and treatment options, encouraging healthy behaviors and motivating them to take an active role in managing their health. A few examples of successful interactive content in healthcare include:
- Interactive videos and infographics to present complex medical information in a visual and easy-to-understand format
- Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies help patients understand complex medical procedures and treatments by immersing them in a virtual environment
- Health quizzes can be used to educate patients about their health conditions and treatment options
- Health apps can be used to track patients' health data and provide treatment instructions or recommendations.
While preferences can vary with different patient characteristics, including age and region, patients consume health information across multiple channels, including social media, websites, and email - just as they do for any other aspect of their life. By using a multi-channel approach, you can ensure that patients receive information through their preferred channels, which can increase engagement and reach.
Digital content can be made more accessible to patients by ensuring that it’s available on a variety of devices and platforms. This includes making content available on mobile devices and ensuring that it’s compatible with assistive technologies such as screen readers for patients with visual impairments.
By analyzing patient engagement metrics, healthcare organizations can gain insights into patient behaviors and preferences. These insights can help tweak current strategies, make better decisions on alternative paths and drive the development of effective digital content strategies.
Subject matter expertise: healthcare content needs experts, every step of the way
Regardless of the strategies and tactics used to engage with your patients locally or worldwide, subject matter expertise with claims, regulatory requirements, and scientific language is still particularly important. Expert review by quality, regulatory, or linguistic experts in the subject matter must be integrated with these strategies.
Acolad has had enormous success in combining our Life Sciences expertise with our digital marketing, cultural adaptation, and linguistic services. Some of our client success stories include the release of LifeScan mobile app in 26 languages and launching a multilingual website for Sterigenics in record time.
Reach out to us to learn how we can help you with your patient engagement strategies.