Will Reese, Chief Innovation Officer, Inizio Evoke
Featured on Fierce Pharma
Cultivating Connections: Continuity in Patient Engagement
Omnichannel strategies should be aligned with precise moments across the care continuum. When developed with precision in mind, these strategies enhance the connectivity between patients and healthcare professionals, as well as between patients and their comprehensive care teams. The right omnichannel strategies can even help support the continuity of care between community and academic centers, address earlier patient identification through referral, and enable best practice management approaches across lines of therapy.
With the increasing complexity of clinical trial inclusion criteria, particularly concerning patients’ prior interventions and lines of therapy, omnichannel experiences can potentially increase awareness among healthcare providers (HCPs) regarding ongoing trials within their locality and the broader health system. Strategically precise omnichannel experiences can also help reconcile the disparities often seen between a malignancy’s affected patient population and the complexion of the study participants by offering HCPs the ability to drive otherwise underrepresented populations into studiesunder-enrollment.
In the context of earlier cancer diagnosis and prolonged survivorship, primary care providers (PCPs) are increasingly integral to the long-term continuity of cancer care. We can support this transition with precise omnichannel experiences, facilitating the handover of patients back to their local care settings. By providing on-demand resources and consistent touchpoints, we can better equip PCPs to manage their patients' ongoing needs, from post-treatment monitoring to survivorship care plans.
The Hyperlocal Approach: Zooming in on Patient-Centric Care
It is critical to recognize and cater to the regional variances that characterize oncology care today. Cancer care outcomes can be dramatically influenced by geographical location. Despite advancements in precision medicine, there are marked disparities in the diagnosis, management, and availability of advanced treatments, which are often predicated on one's postal code. Research has shown that rural areas, home to more than 20% of the U.S. population*—including a higher proportion of the elderly—are notably disadvantaged. Racial, gender identity, socio-economic, and disability disparities are also magnified within specific geographies. For example, prostate and breast cancer incidence rates tend to be higher in urban areas,* where screenings are more readily accessible and earlier diagnosis is encouraged. Rural communities frequently face delayed diagnoses and poorer prognoses in addition to access to timely and specialized care, highlighting a significant inequity in cancer care delivery, especially for advanced therapies.
To address these disparities, a comprehensive understanding of the local healthcare ecosystem is essential. By integrating data such as the service reach of cancer centers, referral patterns from community to academic institutions, and the impact of social determinants of health, we can begin to map out and understand the intricate web of factors that define local healthcare landscapes, to inform more personalized content and services.
Within even the most structured health systems, there are substantial regional differences in the adoption of treatments, patient management strategies, and accessibility to care. By developing a hyperlocal omnichannel strategy, we can better align resources with needs, tailor communication to address local healthcare disparities, and ultimately, deliver a more nuanced and effective patient-centric care approach.
Empathy Engineered: Designing Compassionate Journeys
By incorporating compassionate content into omnichannel experiences, we can enrich the journey not just for patients but also for HCPs. The medical community has seen a rise in HCP burnout since the COVID-19 pandemic, and oncology is no exception. A critical yet often overlooked aspect in omnichannel programs is empathy toward oncologists. Treatment algorithms in the community setting—particularly for hematologic and rare solid tumors—can be overwhelming, particularly when paired with inbox overload. We should be crafting omnichannel experiences that enrich, not complicate, the oncologist’s journey. We should enhance and curate key clinical information, reflect real-world insights, and inform on best practices in a streamlined and meaningful way.
Beyond the patient-physician relationship, strategically precise omnichannel approaches can foster a more holistic support network, encompassing the broader healthcare team, family members, and community advocacy partners. We should develop omnichannel experiences that connect and curate educational resources, care coordination tools, and support systems. Timely, triggered experiences that make these resources accessible to all members of the care team enable a more integrated care approach.
To ensure that omnichannel content resonates with and is relevant to diverse patient populations, we must develop content that reflects the diversity of patients. In addition to accounting for unique market contexts and treatment scenarios, it is essential to consider cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic factors. This approach can help address the disparities in healthcare access and engagement, thereby ensuring that the content feels accessible, inclusive, and as personalized as the precise treatment they are receiving.
From Industrial to Ecological: Rapid Experimentation for Real-World Outcomes
As the pharmaceutical industry navigates the rapid advancements in oncology, marked by significant breakthroughs in treatment and technology, the adoption of a real-world evidence (RWE) approach becomes increasingly paramount. This approach, which harnesses data from outside traditional clinical trials, offers a deeper insight into patient outcomes and treatment efficacy in everyday settings. It parallels the strategic evolution that pharma marketers must undertake to provide precision in omnichannel experiences.
Organizations must shift from a production-focused, industrialized omnichannel strategy to an ecological one that is sustainably optimized for precision. The operational approach, akin to the principles of RWE, should be underpinned by a “test and learn” methodology, constantly refining and optimizing the customer journey through real-world feedback and controlled experimentation. By drawing on insights garnered from RWE, we can design omnichannel experiences that are not only more personalized but more reflective of practical, real-world scenarios.
The future of oncology omnichannel marketing lies in a strategic, data-driven, and content-rich approach that mirrors the precision and personalized nature of modern oncology treatments.
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*US Government Accountability Office, 2023, Why Health Care Is Harder to Access in Rural America, <https://www.gao.gov/blog/why-health-care-harder-access-rural-america>
*Fogleman AJ, Mueller GS, Jenkins WD. Does where you live play an important role in cancer incidence in the U.S.? Am J Cancer Res. 2015;5(7):2314-2319.