News and Events

In pursuit of a personal connection

This past year has been tough. The COVID-19 surge has left patients and healthcare professionals exhausted, defeated, and stressed.

In the absence of physical and face-to-face interactions, people are seeking new ways to connect with each other.

closerlook, which has been tracking digital trends occurring in the pharmaceutical space, is noticing a change in the type of engagement and content people are seeking. Patients, it appears, want brands to respond with empathy. Healthcare professionals (HCPs) are more cautious about the content they receive and may not engage as quickly or as easily.

These changes in online behavior are unlikely to change after COVID-19 is finally defeated. Biopharma is, dare we say it, at the cutting edge of a new digital frontier — with the utilization of advanced analytics including personality detection to produce more personal and empathetic content. What once took years for healthcare marketers to adopt, suddenly is now being integrated as quickly as possible.

Most of us understand the importance of empathy. When we acknowledge how patients feel about their health conditions, they’re more likely to:

  • Trust their providers
  • Adhere to their treatment plans
  • Improve their health outcomes
  • Develop loyalty to specific brands

The need to express empathy is more acute in the rare disease space. Patients with rare diseases often feel alone and misunderstood. They will seek out others like themselves, often finding these individuals in online communities. In these social platforms, they are responding to each other with concern and care. Their condition may have brought them together, but their desire for empathy is what’s keeping them united.

Biopharma companies are now paying attention, creating content uniquely designed to respond with compassion and understanding. It wasn’t so long ago that pharma CEOs admitted to not understanding the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare marketing. Today, many are pushing their brand marketers to explore the analytics behind behavior. A lot has definitely changed.

Brand marketers are asking more from their digital agencies, seeking new ways to connect and engage with patients. One way is to embed empathy into patient-focused sites, supporting them with additional content designed to demonstrate their commitment to patients. In the area of rare disease, an online resource platform can include not just information, but also videos, documentary films, chats, and events in real-time.

Machine-learning systems recognize these activities as data patterns that are associated with empathy. An AI with the capacity for empathy not only delivers opportunities for natural interactions, but also helps patients feel supported, cared for, and loved. In pharma, empathy powered by artificial intelligence is like giving brands superpowers.

One of the reasons why empathy is so difficult to duplicate is because everyone experiences it differently based on one’s personality. For example, people who tend to be agreeable are more likely to be highly empathetic, whereas someone who has a sense of self-importance is less likely to be concerned for others.

With personality detection, we can uncover which types of traits will most attract certain customers. The implications are powerful. By understanding HCPs through this persona, marketers are able to deliver content to HCPs that is personalized just for them.

The concept underpinning personality detection is based on the idea that every individual has unique characteristics that shape his or her behavior and decision-making process. Advances in machine learning enabled closerlook to develop a software that can distinguish the receiver’s preferred way to be communicated to by identifying their personality type.

This unique personality detection software can predict which HCPs are more likely to:

  • Respond to certain subject lines
  • Prefer to view details and references before making a prescribing decision
  • Scan messages presented in bullet points
  • React to conversational tone positively

Ultimately, personality detection can deliver the right message, in the right channel, at the right time. The first time.

Understanding how HCPs consume clinical content to make treatment choices and deciding which channels they favor could be seen as the holy grail in pharmaceutical marketing. Personalized messaging that evokes empathy may be the next best thing — certainly during the pandemic era — to face-to-face relationship building.

Once society begins to reopen and medical offices allow pharma sales visits again, digital agencies can play a role in helping sales reps reconnect with their HCPs by utilizing platforms that integrate empathy, journey and personality detection to recommend the best and most relevant way to engage. If this pandemic has taught us anything it is the idea that people still believe in the importance of personal connections. Thankfully, pharma is finally ready to serve.

A version of this article appeared in the April 2021 issue of Healthcare Marketers Exchange.

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