From participating in regular screenings to staying on top of treatment, being proactive about managing health is often key to surviving breast cancer. But in this moment, when payer dynamics are more complicated, patient needs are becoming more complex, and women’s health is more politicized than ever, getting a check-up and understanding a cancer diagnosis isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
“One of the biggest complexities of cancer is that it is an incredibly diverse disease. There are many different types of cancer, and cancers that arise in different organs often behave very differently,” wrote Eric Winer, MD, in an article for the American Association for Cancer.
This makes education and awareness imperative to getting women the care and support they need to protect and manage their health. However, the responsibility of doing so often lands in the hands of HCPs who are increasingly expected to do more with less. As we look to better aid our physicians, it’s helpful to understand the specific challenges they’re facing and consider how Pharma can meet them in the ways that resonate best.
HCPs don’t have time to do what they signed up for: Care for their patients.
Based on data from the Mindset Engine1, Syneos Health’s proprietary, cutting edge intelligence platform that aims to understand how doctors make choices, 84% of HCPs care most about putting their patients first, but they are being asked to take on more responsibility that keeps them from doing so. The front-line physicians of women’s healthcare (GPs and OBGYNs) have the most power to drive breast cancer awareness – but they simply don’t feel equipped to do so as they work against the clock. These concerns go beyond the front lines of women’s health, and are mirrored by Oncologists who pick up the baton after diagnosis.
When we ask what they are most concerned about, they responded as follows:
Increasing demands to see more patients daily: 87% GP, 88% Onc, 85% OBGYN
Time they can spend with patients: 87% GP, 82% Onc, 86% OBGYN
Exhaustion and burnout: 88% GP, 87% Onc, 90% OBGYN
While these statistics are startling, they also signal a larger concern around work-life balance and the looming physician burnout crisis.
"It's a recipe for burnout when there is no balance in one's life. It's fueled with exhaustion, stress, and liability issues on a daily basis," – stated Karen Kaufman, MD, a board-certified OBGYN in an article for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The implications of insufficient time are quite serious. Less time being spent with patients means less opportunity for HCPs to truly engage in discussion and education – which can have an impact on early detection and symptom monitoring. According to the Mindset Engine, this limitation particularly affects OBGYNs and oncologists, 91% of which feel that patients need a lot of guidance in understanding their health. Whether it’s exploring treatment options or making sense of complicated conditions, patients rely on their physicians for support. So, what happens when they feel like they can’t? They turn to online resources to fill the void.
While information found online can sometimes prove itself to be a helpful alternative for patients, there’s often a plethora of misinformation to navigate on their own. Without a solid foundational understanding, misinformation can quickly become taken as fact. HCPs feel this frustration. According to the Mindset Engine, 74% of them believe they should help combat misinformation in public channels. Some physicians have begun sharing expertise outside the walls of an office visit, like Natalie Crawford, MD, who has taken to TikTok to dispel myths with her 185,000 followers. While this effort makes an impact, it also further increases the responsibility HCPs feel to educate their patients about diagnosis, treatment, and care.
If HCPs don't stand up against misinformation, the alternative could mean that patients undermine doctor recommendations or challenge their views as an expert – all of which can put a strain on their relationship and move the patient further away from the care they need.
HCPs value their patients above all else, but gaps in the healthcare system are pulling them away from what they care about most – and pushing them to check out altogether.
What Pharma can do about it:
Go beyond treatment to relieve burnout, lift the burden, and build brand loyalty.
The good news? Pharma companies who provide comprehensive support for HCPs can have the greatest impact, which can lead to more satisfied physicians and better health outcomes for patients. It can also help to drive a stronger sense of brand loyalty when HCPs know they have a true partner in helping them get back to what they care about most. And while loyalty can be earned through clinical trials and efficacy, only a third of HCPs are loyal to pharma brands in general – which leaves a lot of opportunity to build connection and brand equity.
One way to keep engagement high is to align opportunities to the values HCPs care about most:
Service: putting the needs of their patients above anything else (84%)
Belonging: connecting and collaborating with peers (70%)
Lifestyle: having a predictable, stable routine (59%)
Brands who focus on these three foundational values that drive HCP decision-making will naturally build more brand connection with HCPs. Wondering how you can do that?
Put patients first.
Provide support services and deliver content that focuses on factual, digestible content.
Meet HCPs and patients where they are – online. Create rich information that helps educate and inform, so that HCPs can spend less time battling misinformation.
Create connection in the HCP community.
Develop forums, networks, and paths of communication that allow them to connect and collaborate with their peers and remove the feeling of isolation.
Help HCPs regain a semblance of a balanced lifestyle by re-evaluating your content approach in a world of information overload. Streamline your tactics by creating rich content that is naturally engaging and easy to comprehend.
Syneos Health Proprietary Mindset Engine Healthcare Provider Behavioral Study 2022. The study includes 7,200 healthcare providers with a nationally representative sample of physicians in the United States by specialty including 329 Oncologist HCPs in the United States. The study was conducted utilizing an online panel of healthcare providers which fielded February 8th, 2022 through October 24th 2022. At the overall study level, the margin of error is +/- 1.2% at a 95% confidence level.