If health has a currency beyond the improvement of outcomes, it is trust.
Most participants in the health conversation on the Social Web are happy to agree about the importance of augmenting trust by maintaining a visible, approachable, open disposition.
Building credibility by refraining from promotion; providing high quality, balanced, accessible health information; embodying a desire to be the authority on one’s own portfolio of products through a commitment to dialogue in a responsible manner — these are the trust-accretive traits that progressive pharmaceutical companies are expected to manifest.
Whilst we are still a considerable way from being able to call these attitudinal dispositions mainstream, for some individuals, brand teams, perhaps even entire affiliates, this is becoming what we might call the new normal.
Nevertheless, the pharmaceutical industry is Janus-faced, and elsewhere counter-productive, trust-corrosive discourse is allowed to continue unchecked.
I cringe every time I read some earnest pronouncement about ‘multi-channel marketing’, ‘closed loop marketing’, ‘sales force effectiveness’, ‘market access’ and all the other toxic terms that continued use over time has come to validate unjustly.
It is time for the pharmaceutical industry to abstain from associating itself with such discourse while it considers fully how these terms sound in the ears of its audiences.
At best, none of these concepts mean a thing to patients or healthcare professionals.
At worst, their utilisation could call any number of motives into question.
More than that, however, it is my opinion that merely associating pharma’s activities with these concepts is tantamount to saying that the industry is actually far more interested in its customers as bars on a chart, sales targets and data points than as people with individual needs.
I invite any reader of this post from the industry who doubts the pernicious, trust-corrosive, massively counter-productive impacts of being seen to be associated with or employing concepts such as multi-channel marketing, closed loop marketing, sales force effectiveness or market access to deliver a presentation on them to an audience of patient advocates or healthcare professionals.
Having done so, ask your audience for their honest opinion of them, and whether they trust you more or less as a consequence of having discovered that you give credence to and utilise ideas that seem expressly designed to alienate pharma from those it wishes to connect with when considered in isolation.
In my opinion, it is nothing short of delusional for pharma to continue to organise aspects of its enterprise around notions which mean nothing outside of its own organisational structure.
In order to bolster rather than impede its credibility in the eyes of patients and healthcare professionals, the pharmaceutical industry needs to break its addiction to concepts which time and usage have seemingly granted an intrinsic logic to, but which have no extrinsic validity with reference to the needs, interests, and concerns of its patient, healthcare professional, and payer audiences.
The era in which pharma could expect to be able to speak of ‘multi-channel marketing’, ‘closed loop marketing’, ‘sales force effectiveness’, or ‘market access’ without being called out as to their relevance, coherence, or appropriateness is over.
As a consequence, pharma needs to get over them, too.