Pharma companies don’t typically market directly to caregivers of patients with chronic conditions. But they might want to consider it, new data from Phreesia Life Sciences suggests.
More than half of chronically ill patients rely on their caregivers to make healthcare decisions for them, according to a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 caregivers conducted while they checked in for doctors’ appointments, either for themselves or for their patients. In addition, another 30% of patients always discuss their treatment options with their caregivers before making a decision.
In fact, a combined 92% of caregivers say they typically take a leading or active role in doctor-patient discussions, and nearly 9 in 10 (87%) are involved in those discussions all or most of the time.
These statistics point to a largely unexplored avenue for pharma marketers: directly engaging caregivers. The pharma industry’s current messaging and imagery overwhelmingly focus on patients and their experience, but with so many caregivers so deeply involved in their patients’ treatment planning, drugmakers may find success targeting communications specifically to this group—especially in disease areas where patients rely heavily on their caregivers.
So what should those communications look like? If pharma wants to connect meaningfully with caregivers, it’s important to understand the caregiver experience and the many struggles they face.
For starters, 75% of caregivers report moderate-to-extreme stress related to their caregiving duties—no surprise, considering the myriad tasks they juggle, often without pay and/or on top of another job. In addition to accompanying patients to appointments and discussing their care with their providers, many caregivers also are responsible for monitoring their patients’ health symptoms (70%), coordinating appointments (73%), making pharmacy trips (69%), managing medications (64%) and more.
Caregivers also grapple with feeling ill-equipped for their responsibilities. In fact, 2 out of 5 caregivers (40%) say they don’t have the resources they need to provide optimal care for their patients, even after many years in the role—65% of those surveyed had been providing patient care for three years or more.
To broaden their medical knowledge, caregivers frequently turn to the web, piling up hours of research on top of their long list of duties. Indeed, 69% of caregivers say the internet is the first place they go to look for information that can help them provide better care, followed by their patient’s doctor (53%) and the doctor’s office staff (43%). Overall, 73% of caregivers go online for health-condition-specific information at least once a month, and 20% search online a few times a week.
Pharma marketers need to take this timely data under consideration and create messaging that specifically engages caregivers in authentic, empathetic ways. Reaching caregivers where they’re already searching for information—online and at the point of care—with educational materials, training, medication information and other resources can go a long way toward easing their many burdens, ultimately better supporting both caregivers and the patients they serve.