How Content Builds Patient Communities

How do you keep a patient engaged in their treatment plan when success on treatment is hard for them to see or feel? For many patients facing chronic illness, their medication isn’t a cure, it doesn’t make them feel better, and it comes with some challenging side effects. The goal of the treatment is to prevent or slow the progression of the disease.

So, when ‘no news is good news’, how do you motivate someone to stick with the treatment?

The best way to support patient retention and the patient’s success is through dynamic use of content that builds community. Here are 3 tips to engage your patient audiences.

Map the patient journey

Living with a chronic illness is not an easy journey. To deliver value and to build trust and a sense of connection, you need to understand that journey and find places where you can offer information, support, or motivation. From being prescribed medication in the doctor’s office through to completing their first year of treatment, where are the moments for you to make a positive impact?

Overlay the journey with customer emotion mapping to determine the message, best channel for outreach (phone, digital, mail, etc.), and the appropriate tone for the communication. The result is a multi-layered, omnichannel communications strategy that meets the patient where they are at and seeks to move them forward confidently and comfortably in their journey.

Amplify authentic voices

You don’t get it until you get it. It’s an idiom for those living with chronic disease. While customer journey mapping reveals real insights, you can never truly walk the patient journey. To bring the authentic experience forward, rely on the experts – patients.

Focus on how you can tell and share their stories. Video is the most genuine way to share real stories and helpful tips from one patient to the other. When topics are particularly emotional or inspiring, featuring a real patient’s voice brings validity and honesty to the content in a particularly intimate and personal manner. Ultimately, you build real trust and community.

Even with all your mapping and planning, let the patients show and tell you what they need. A patient that is early in their journey, will frequently engage with tips and stories from others. Watch that engagement for new insights and ideas. As patients move forward in their own journey, they will be more open to sharing their own tips and stories. Empower veteran patients to “pay it forward” and share their insights to others starting their journey. The authentic advice will be supportive to new patients, and it will make your veterans feel valued for their insights and experiences. Ultimately, you will create a community that provides value for all patients no matter where they are in their journey.

Don’t Forget to Delight to Your Audience

Living with a chronic illness isn’t easy and you should never downplay the challenges in the journey. Instead, find ways to use content and design in thoughtful ways to inspire a little bit of joy from time to time.  We’re not talking about using stock photography of smiling people living their best lives, which is so pervasive in pharmaceutical marketing.

Identify opportunities to add a little “extra” to the real and authentic content you are producing. At the very least it is promoting moments for self-care or a bonus calendar that offers short, fun activities to do each day. But also incorporate this approach into content designed to reach the patient during challenges they may be facing. For example, develop a friendly, approachable character in a series of animations that help explain the science behind how the medication works, or about certain side effects or symptoms the patient may experience. The goal is not to gloss over the information or try and put a positive spin on it, but to present the science in a very accessible way so the patient will feel informed without being overwhelmed or intimidated.

Our Most Important Advice

At the end of the day, you cannot connect with your audiences over time without doing the work to understand their journey. Only through that work, can you uncover opportunities where you can add value to support patients. To improve retention, you need to help patients learn, overcome obstacles, be inspired, and connect with others facing the same challenges.

Looking for ideas on how to use content to help strengthen retention or build community? Let’s chat!