Talking Past Each Other: Patient Engagement is More Than a Slogan

By Peggy Salvatore

This is one of a series of blogs posted out of the ePharma Summit 2016 where pharmaceutical marketing folks talked tech for three days.

The future is here. We just need to recognize it and start using it for the good of patients. The technology available today allows the healthcare industry to stop talking at patients, or talking past patients, and engage them in meaningful conversations.

It is at the intersection of patients, the providers who care for them and the payers who have to manage the finances to pay for it all where technology will integrate these powerful forces. There was a fundamental frustration you could feel from the futurists at ePharma Summit 2016 that they are dragging a reluctant healthcare sector along to make this future that is now, actually fulfill its promise now.

Vendors had exciting innovations. More on a few of those in the next blog. The issue that calls out for immediate attention, though, is the nexus of and reason for all the efforts and stakeholders at the table – the patients we need to engage. Those patients are us.

Co-founder and CEO of StartUp Health Steven Krein said, “We are all part of this in a way no other industry is. If we aren’t personally, somebody in our family is a patient.”

As an industry, how quickly those of us in pharma can get caught up in the sales numbers, the marketing strategy and the fun techie gadgets and forget that the patient is the whole point of why we are in this industry. When you scratch a healthcare professional – no matter whether a doctor, nurse, marketing executive or pharma sales rep – they will tell you they are in it because they care about a disease, a patient, a cure.

As founder of The Stupid Cancer Show, Matthew Zacchary, said in his powerful presentation to the industry, “The humanity you stand for can’t get lost in this. You guys and your kids get cancer too. We’re all patients, we’re all humans.”

Yes, we’re all human and we’re all patients. And technology can help us make those personal connections that drive our industry and our reason for being.

But how quickly we can forget, even temporarily. And it was one of those lapses that particularly dinged our reputation with patients who were present at ePharma Summit 2016.


Patient blogger Kristin Coppens brought all our attention snapping back to the reason we are all in business. She reminds us why we care. She blogged about some insensitivity to patients at the event, and it is something we all need to be aware of as we make sure that when we talk about Patient Engagement, Patient Experience and The Patient Journey, we remember what it means.



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