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Europe has, in many respects, a patient dynamic that is very different from that in the US. The preeminence of national healthcare systems in provision delivers broader access to care, but rigid formularies mean narrow treatment options. Those options are further constrained by tight controls on pharma consumer promotion, which limit EU patients’ exposure to information about available therapies.

It’s somewhat surprising, then, that physicians in the top five EU markets (Germany, France, the U.K., Spain and Italy) are nonetheless noticing an uptick in their patients’ level of engagement when it comes to making treatment decisions. In fact, as we found with DRG’s Taking the Pulse® Europe 2015 study, 49% of EU physicians say that their patients have been more involved in treatment decision making over the past 12 months. In addition, 52% of EU5 physicians said that their patients are better informed about drug choices and treatment options, and 58% agree that their patients have greater expectations of their care.

So what can pharma do to prepare for a more empowered European patient, in the absence of DTC product advertising? To stay ahead of the curve, marketers should develop tools and materials to help arm doctors for a more in-depth discussion with their patients. EU5 physicians are interested in downloadable patient education materials to support their treatment. These physicians are also interested in accessing disease information and patient assistance programs or tools to support their patients on pharma websites. Providing physicians with the tools they need to guide educational and informative discussions with their patients will allow pharma to play a crucial role at the point of care.

In order to effectively reach EU5 physicians with patient support materials, pharma should ensure that these resources are available on professional-facing websites. Product websites are the best place to house this information, as they are more frequently visited than corporate or condition websites among EU5 physicians. If posted on a physician portal, a clear description of what is behind the firewall is needed to ensure that physicians will register and visit the portal website. In addition, links should be included on product websites to direct physicians to these assets on the portal.

Given that almost half of HCPs in Europe are looking to pharma to play an integral role in driving patient support programs and services in the future, it is vital that pharmas start partnering with physicians in Europe to differentiate themselves from their competitors and support physicians in a meaningful and impactful way.

For more on Taking the Pulse® EU and how DRG Digital Innovation can help your brand maximize physician and consumer digital resources in European markets, contact questions@teamdrg.com.

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