Can B2B marketing strategies for the complex sale help improve health outcomes?

Clinician patient engagementYesterday’s Journal of Participatory Medicine published an article entitled Evidence that Engagement Does Make A Difference.  The study found that “patients’ decisions not to have the operation were associated with lack of confidence in the accuracy of the diagnosis, poor communication with their doctors and fear that the operation would erode their quality of life”.

Evidence shows that patients often forego treatment that could save their lives

The implication, although not explicitly tied to this finding, was that better engagement would increase the likelihood that patients would be less likely to foregoing life-extending surgery.  (The article references an earlier AMA study that showed that 1/3 of patient people diagnosed with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer opted not to have surgery that would extend their lives by 400%–from one year to four years.)

Would B2B marketing strategies, for the complex sale, apply to health care?

Assuming engagement matters, which one intuitively would believe it does, what was missing from the post were details about effective engagement.  In short, it begs the questions who, what, when, where, and how–the questions that business-to-business marketers focus on daily as they aim to change behavior in complex sales situations.

5 questions B2B marketers might ask before determining how to influence patient behavior

According to last year’s Pew study, the number one and number two sources people turn to for health counsel are their physicians and their social circle.  Follow up questions to the study cited in yesterday’s article (or at least the post about the study) include:

1) Who must communicate the information to increase the likelihood of engagement? The patient’s health care providers?  If so, should the communication be with the specialist, the primary care provider or another clinician?  Or, is it more important that family and friends engage with the patient?

2) When must communication occur? On the day of diagnosis?  A week later?  On an ongoing basis?

3) What communication is most effective? Statistics about health outcomes?  Recommendations as to how to proceed? Explanations of what to expect before, during, and after treatment?

4) How should communicators relay the information for maximum impact? In person?  Over the phone?  Some form of less personal communication?

5) What would make the communication more credible and powerful? Reprints of articles with information that patients may find useful? Videos of others’ experiences with the same condition?  Family members’ concerns about the impact it will have on their lives?  A Q and A session with the clinician–or the clinical team?

What’s the best way to influence patient behavior?

Have you seen other studies that address these questions?  If so, are B2B marketing techniques helpful when it comes to aiding patients (who are really consumers) make the complex decisions associated with choosing appropriate medical care?

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