How understanding patients helped Janssen to improve its website

Robert Dossin and Corinne Pilgrim

InSites Consulting and Janssen Pharmaceuticals

In our digital and social media focus month, Robert Dossin and Corinne Pilgrim describe how Janssen used Social Media Netnography Research to help improve its 24×7 schizophrenia website.

In general, patients suffering from Schizophrenia, find it difficult to ask their doctor for advice – and also find it hard to continuously take their medication as they do not like to be reminded on a day to day basis that they are ill. Also Doctors find it hard to have the conversations with patients as these conversations are difficult and take a lot of time, which doctors do not have in today’s time-pressured healthcare environment.

Janssen had an existing communications platform in the area of Schizophrenia (figure 1). The 24×7 schizophrenia website is a key tool to empower patients and carers to initiate conversations with Health Care Professionals, and each other and to raise awareness of the benefits of continuous medication.

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 Figure 1: Schizophrenia 24×7 website (new)

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It helped time-pressured doctors to engage with patients and also had the ability to inform patients and their carers to allow some time to reflect and come prepared to their doctors appointment and ask the questions they wanted to ask (figure 2). Unfortunately, it lacked engagement – hence traffic.

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Figure 2: Empower patients to talk to their HCPs

 Advocacy groups had told Janssen that the website could be made even more suitable for patients and Health Care Professionals (HCPs).

So the Janssen Pharmaceutical Schizophrenia EMEA team were presented with the challenge of how to communicate effectively with as many as patients suffering from schizophrenia as possible. They were tasked with writing new content for Scizophrenia 14×7 in a way that was more relevant for the patients and HCPs, using their language, removing jargon and making it as engaging as possible. It was clear that less text and more interactive ways needed to be developed to make this a better overall experience.

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“…patients suffering from Schizophrenia, find it difficult to ask their doctor for advice – and also find it hard to continuously take their medication as they do not like to be reminded on a day to day basis that they are ill.”

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Research was needed to identify what patients discussed, how they discussed it, in what context and what were opportunities for Janssen to start the conversation with patients suffering from Schizophrenia, but also carers and HCPs.

It was decided to listen to all publicly available patient conversations in five languages using Social Media Netnography as main method.

Social Media Netnography is a method that taps into online conversations that are publicly available, hence is a secondary data collection method. It is also very suitable to research and reach patients who find it difficult to talk about their disease with carers, HCPs and with family and friend because of the associated social stigma.

Together with advocacy group and expert feedback, the outcomes of this Social Media Netnography study revealed content gaps in the patient journey, identified critical issues and cultural differences.

The results highlighted the current misperceptions in Schizophrenia, the important role of the caregiver, described the profile of a typical patient KOL and recommended other website improvements.

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“…Social Media Netnography is a method that taps into online conversations that are publicly available, hence is a secondary data collection method.”

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It showed that carers of current schizophrenia patients were very active online, but the website had very little content for them. This was clearly untapped potential for Janssen. So as part of the website a new section on carers was launched to provide information and interactive tools as to become more a platform for carers to share and come in contact with other carers.

One of the key recommendations was to build content for the different visitors on the site as the (information) needs of the various constituents differ. Future developments will include different landing zones which segments patients – and then routes them to where they can find the most relevant information. This will make it an overall much better user experience.

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“This was clearly untapped potential for Janssen.”

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The schizophrenia 24×7 website has since been updated in more than 16 countries in 5+ languages and has had more than 200,000 unique visitors with a 20% revisit rate in the last few months!

In conclusion

Social Media Netnography proved extremely effective and efficient to help drive communication strategy and tactical improvements in a very difficult disease area with complex barriers to engage with patients, not only because of the nature of the disease, but also because of the strict regulations in pharmaceutical marketing and research.

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About the authors:

About Robert Dossin

Robert Dossin is Managing Director of InSites Consulting.

Robert has 15+ years of blue-chip management and marketing experience gained from international marketing and research roles in B2B and B2C sectors driving growth units in Europe.

He is expert in management and executing for International exec leadership teams and can drive Strategy, whilst being expert in Digital Marketing and Online Research.

About Corinne Pilgrim

Corinne is the EMEA Product Director, Janssen.

Can social media netnography help pharma to better engage with patients?