From frequent headlines indicting the pharma industry for issues such as price gouging, suppressing drug-safety data, to forced withdrawal of high-profile drugs, and “off-label” marketing, it’s been a tough several years for the reputation of the pharmaceutical industry.

While improving trust may seem hard to quantify from a business standpoint, it is actually incredibly practical and important, and pharma companies need to take a closer look at how their bottom line is being affected by distrust. How does negative social buzz and press effect revenue? What can be done to turn this around?

Fortunately, given the powerful influence of today’s digital technologies, pharmaceutical companies have more effective tools to help bridge the trust divide.

Start with pharmaceutical education

The most valuable way for the pharmaceutical industry to build trust is to educate. Transparency goes hand in hand with honesty; therefore,  there needs to be a bigger push of information from pharma to the public. Allow public access to research findings and reports, for example.

In this video created by Pfizer, they do a great job of shedding light on the R&D process. Using their own scientists, they added a human, relatable component. Since most of the public may not understand medical jargon, a simple, easy-to-digest video such as this one is a great way to engage and enlighten the public and help them understand the effort that goes into a medication.

Truly engage with individual communities

Creating digital communities for engaging with physicians, caregivers and patients is a powerful way for brand teams to build trust through the sharing of information, establishing credibility and offering long-term support. Incyte did a great job developing this unbranded website, Voices of MPN. The site connects patients affected by myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), or blood cancers. Incyte recognized the importance of connecting patients to their community. The MPN Heroes event goes one step further, honoring clinicians, caregivers and advocates who have made significant contributions in the field of MPNs. These levels of engagement all help to build trust.

Sponsoring educational programs, and involving medical practitioners as well as caregivers in that process, is also crucial for building trust. Online users today are very sophisticated and are quick to appreciate the efforts of brands that are consistently supportive and transparent.

Add value beyond the pill

The most trusted pharmaceutical companies are those that put the needs of their patients first in tangible and practical ways. Digital platforms and programs are incredibly powerful in building trust when they are personal, timely and relevant. There are many examples of digital programs that provide information, support, connectivity and other features–all helping to build trust and value beyond the pill.

  1. Shire’s suite of mobile apps: Online microsites and integrated patient communities on Facebook to help raise awareness of Hereditary Angioedema, a rare and potentially devastating condition.
  2. Pfizer teamed up with the American Lung Association to develop Quitter’s Circle, an online community and mobile app designed to help those trying to quit. It helps smokers overcome obstacles associated with the quitting process. Smokers can easily join a quit online team, personalize a plan to quit, and get connected to a healthcare provider.
  3. For diabetic patients, AstraZeneca’s Fit2Me is a free diet and lifestyle support program. It provides consumers with a customized plan tailored to their unique combination of health challenge areas across five of the most prevalent conditions or diseases in the United States: type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart attack, high blood pressure and high triglycerides.

By providing value beyond the pill, these brands have created the foundation for building genuine brand trust.

As the saying goes, “trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair.” Pharma has the opportunity to address distrust and become one of the country’s most trusted industries. Given the powerful and personalized treatments that are moving through clinical trials and into the marketplace over the next few years, the opportunity is there, but it is up to the pharma companies to capitalize on that opportunity.

If you are interested in building trust and using digital platforms to provide “value beyond the pill,” please feel free to get in touch.

This post was originally published on Results in Action.

Christine Lazauskas

Christine Lazauskas

Christine is a Customer Solutions Manager at Cadient, a Cognizant company.