Pharma Marketers’ New Engagement Weapon: Treato Pharma

By Spitz (@SpitzStrategy)

Understanding Your Audience

Budget, time, and resources are becoming increasingly finite, so every pharma marketer must now address questions that include: What is the best media mix to generate optimal awareness, engagement, even adherence, for my brands? What messages resonate best with my audience? How do patients truly feel about my treatment solutions, why do they switch, and what motivates them to complete their therapy?

Patient discussions are already taking place by the millions online, and are rich with information capable of answering exactly these types of pressing questions. Everything from the decision factors in selecting a particular medication, to concerns about side effects and cost, to reasons for switching to a different drug are unabashedly discussed with friends, family members, and even peers.  Social channels have become so common place and privacy concerns have shifted to the point patients now share their thoughts and feelings about conditions and medications at a personal level‚îto the point many reveal more online than they would at home or even in their doctor’s offices.

Marketers can gather patient intelligence in more traditional ways, of course, through surveys and focus groups. But gaining insights in these more traditional ways is time consuming and expensive; the questioner also needs to know exactly what to ask, since the question itself may influence the answer, or may miss the point entirely. The beauty of analyzing patient posts in social media is that the patients determine the questions and the answers‚îsimply by sharing what they think and feel about their treatment. Online posts are also spontaneously written by patients, as opposed to focus groups and surveys, of necessity artificial constructs.

Tapping into this treasure trove of online patient sentiment is not a new idea. Healthcare is one of the most complicated subjects discussed online, and social media “listening” tools do their best to understand health language and provide meaningful insights about healthcare discussions. Many proprietary platforms are used by pharma marketers to help build their engagement plans, but most are complex and difficult to administer, and few if any are geared specifically to the unique behaviors of patient segments and the specialized needs of pharma communicators.

An Intriguing New Solution

Treato Pharma is a new online patient intelligence service that crawls the billions of patient discussions happening online, and uses proprietary natural language processing algorithms to extract real-time insights regarding patients’ thoughts and attitudes. The interface will be officially announced at Health 2.0 next month, but I recently saw a demo and think the service deserves a central place in every pharma marketer’s toolkit.

Treato Pharma is built on the platform of Treato’s consumer site,, an ad-free digital experience launched last year and trafficked by more than 700,000 unique visitors per month. Treato crunches mountains of “big data” behind the scenes and takes that vast unstructured content of web health discussions and filters it into relevant categories and topics around 24,000 drugs and conditions. Patients come to the site to see what their peers are thinking and feeling about treatment options and ailments, intuitively navigating to structured content that quickly provides the answers (and sparks new questions) about pressing, often critical medical challenges.

Treato is distinctive in that its designers have a deep understanding of healthcare and have built hierarchical language dictionaries that understand both patients’ own language (e.g. “my chemotherapy makes me feel sick”) alongside professional jargon. Treato Pharma is a service for marketers that taps into this already proven engagement resource. But the genius of Treato Pharma goes behind the data mining and analysis, and expresses itself in a sleek, simple, and fun to use interface. Navigable through interactive infographics, users are able to access data by clicking from broad categories of information and drill down to individual posts to see exactly what the patient said and meant when they talked about their chemo-induced nausea.

To get Treato Pharma working for you, simply provide the brand name and competitors you wish to track. No complicated report settings, no inputting of keywords, just one click brings you to the main dashboard. This includes top patient insights, such as drug usages (including off-label usages that are mentioned in social media), patient issues and concerns, positive and negative opinions, physician advice related to the brand, and other topics.

Within the site, extensive competitive analysis sections compare the number of discussions about brands and competitors over time, comparative patient perception, and topics discussed more and less often than competitors. The Drug Switching tab aggregates all the posts about people switching to and from the selected brand, ranking the alternatives in both directions, and providing access to the posts that go into more detail. The Top Websites tab gives a ranked list of which sites include posts about the selected brand, in other words, a recipe for where to be online.

Give Treato Pharma A Test Drive

Having a clear understanding of the buzzmetrics across a disease state or drug can help marketers determine messages for DTC marketing, and even figure out what sites they should be advertising on. Treato Pharma enables pharma marketers to gain easy access to immediately actionable information that will improve the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns in a manner that is effective, compelling, and innovative.

But don’t just take Spitz’s word for it‚îgive the service a whirl.

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