What Patients Really Want from A Pharmaceutical Brand Website

With seemingly endless health websites, existing and emerging media, and continuous content sharing on social media, the health information landscape is getting more and more complicated to navigate.  Pharma brands have tried to help by increasing their presence and the amount of content offered through a variety of digital channels, but many pharma brand websites have not understood nor embraced the specific role patients are asking them to play.

I believe the most effective pharma brand websites are designed to acknowledge and fulfill their distinct role in the patient journey.  Here are my top five recommendations to guide content strategy and serve up what patients truly want from pharma brand websites.

1) Lead with Patient Stories

It’s no surprise consumers want to access what they perceive is authentic information they can obtain quickly.  Interestingly “authentic information” can come from complete strangers.  An article in Forbes referenced a recent survey which found 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation – and this applies to health and wellness.  In this way social media plays a unique role in connecting patients on a personal level to learn directly from the experiences of others about managing symptoms or at what point to schedule an appointment with their doctor.

By mining social media to understand what questions and concerns are top of mind, pharma websites may provide answers to these questions through the lens of real patients.  Not only does this demonstrate how a brand values connections with its patients, it provides relatable perspectives to someone wanting to see how a treatment could help him or her.  One client’s website contains a variety of helpful patient assets such as FAQs, brochures, doctor discussion guides and videos, and continually showed the highest engagement rates with the patient videos.  Consider placing these testimonials or a link to them front and center on the homepage, ensuring they will stand out and be easily found.

 2) Explain How the Medication Works and Dosing

Many brand websites are dominated by content about the disease or condition.  Too many tabs, dropdowns and subpages inundate the user while assuming they are beginning to learn about a condition for the very first time, when in actuality they already have. Instead a factual account of how a medication addresses a problem is something users want to understand at this stage.

Patients tend to gravitate towards efficacy and dosing information when applicable.  For example, one client’s page included a list of 20 expandable FAQs.  The Dosing FAQ, which sat near the middle of the list, was clicked more than any other, demonstrating high user interest.  Based on that data, we advised our client to change the order and elevate the content in which users are most interested, so others won’t have to peruse an entire page to be able to find it.

 3) Show How to Administer the Medication

If the medication requires an injection or something other than an oral pill, demonstrate to patients what they can expect.  The complexity of the medication — and whether it can be administered by the patient or requires assistance from others — factors into how critical this content becomes.  Videos can aid tremendously here as well. It’s important to keep in mind different people absorb information best in different formats, so having a mix of content types can appeal to a larger audience.

 4) Summarize Clinical Data

Patients want a sense of the likelihood the treatment could work for them or the time it may take before they see improvements.  If highlights from clinical studies can be used to answer these questions, be transparent with the results.  Basing answers on approved trial data (for example, “Seventy-five percent of patients saw improvement in two weeks”) can encourage discussions with the doctor.

 5) Clearly State Options to Make It More Affordable

Whether it is a savings card, a copay program or instructions for navigating insurance, patients will welcome and appreciate any offer that can lessen the financial burden of their treatment. Here again is an opportunity for the brand to be a true partner, focused on helping each unique patient with a complicated topic.

Savvy marketers should accept that patients turn to search, major health websites and social media before or in tandem with their brand website. Thus, differentiating website content from these other sources plays a huge role in attracting and educating patients.  Providing better, more useful content than your competitors will elevate your brand in a customer-centric market.