The Three Strategies of Individual Patient Engagement
June 13, 2019
By Michael Simone
For life science companies, working with patients has become industry standard. Patient engagement has evolved from a little-known niche into a specialized field in its own right. However, when it comes to connecting with individuals outside of your own organization, we can easily and clearly distinguish three general types of engagement that are worth exploring:
- Patient Ambassadors
- Patient Opinion Leaders (POL)
A participant in a Patient Ambassador® program is a representative of the “everyday patient” living with a specific condition, often taking a specific product. It’s people who are associated with the company that conducts the program—an extension of that company that reaches into the community. They share the company’s values and are aligned with its goals. Their role is to bring a company’s products, services, or programs to life. They’re the human manifestation, the face, of the condition, or the brand they represent. In order to safeguard the brand, this type of engagement calls for partners that specialize in recruitment, screening, and training of candidates from a logistical and legal and regulatory point of view.
Just like physician Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), POLs are voices of competence on their topic of expertise—the disease they live with or their loved-one lives with. What distinguishes them from other types of social media influencers is the reputation they’ve earned over the years of representing their community with a solid foundation of knowledge, experience, and connectedness.
Influencers can be celebrities or everyday people with a sizeable social media following. Social media influencers qualify themselves by virtue of their online followership, celebrities by virtue of their fame, and in this day-and-age, many influencers actually fall into both buckets. Influencers can also be patients or caregivers in a given disease category, but that’s not necessarily the case and definitely not their main claim to fame (if it were, they’d be POLs). The value of this path depends on the goals and objectives of what the campaign is supposed to do. Before you do it, make sure your team understands the impact of different strategies and the legal and regulatory ramifications around them.