Don’t Talk to the Patient
by Scott Greenstone
That’s right, don’t talk to the patient, at least not just the patient.
Yes of course you should communicate with the patient, but most often the patient isn’t the only one dealing with the pain, suffering, discomfort, and inconveniences. There is almost always a caregiver in the mix who should not be ignored.
Depending on the age, diagnosis, or even psychosocial aspects of the patient, sometimes the caregiver is taking the brunt of the situation.
When I refer to the caregiver, I am talking about the mom, dad, brother, sister, cousin, neighbor, friend, or anyone else who is helping the patient. They may be directly providing treatment to the patient or they may be taking care of the other aspects of life, such as bills, chores, shopping, etc. Either way there is a toll that the caregiver may be paying as a result. From a legal standpoint caregivers are defined and governed by both state and federal law,* but from a marketing standpoint, a caregiver may include someone who doesn’t easily fit into the government’s definition.
In many cases, it’s just as important for the caregiver to understand how to administer a treatment, or what the potential side effects may be.
Pharma can’t, and shouldn’t, assume patients and providers are providing the necessary knowledge regarding treatments to the caregivers. In many cases, it’s just as important for the caregiver to understand how to administer a treatment, or what the potential side effects may be. Often pharma communication is targeted at the one suffering from the condition, so a caregiver may not pay attention to the message.
Statistics surrounding caregivers are staggering, which points to why they cannot be ignored*:
- 82% of caregivers take care of at least one person
- 3 out of 5 people being cared for suffer long-term conditions
- 26% of those cared for suffer from memory issues
- Caregivers spend over 24 hours a week providing care
- 58% of caregivers report they experience moderate or higher burden
The above statistics point to an enormous need for pharma to not only provide education about the medication, but also support to help caregivers remain mentally strong so they can continue to do everything possible to take care of their loved one.
Developing a campaign that speaks directly to potential caregivers should be part of the campaign mix. This can ensure caregivers are communicated with directly regarding potential treatments, administration, side effects and related questions that may need to be asked of the providers.