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Looking for Value Below the Surface: Diabetes Management within Long-Term Care

An estimated 12 million Americans need some form of formal, long-term care (LTC).[1] Commonly, when our clients think about the LTC market, they focus on skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), but assisted living facilities (ALFs) and home care are equally important for many products and services.

We had a client ask us to help her team identify how they should position a new diabetes drug in the LTC market. Our client had already conducted product optimization and positioning in the outpatient market. Even with this wealth of knowledge, the marketing team needed to understand what would drive use and what barriers might exist within SNFs and ALFs. The LTC market accounted for less than 1% of all prescription volumes for this drug class, but key stakeholders at our clients’ organization thought its product might provide unique benefits that could increase the use of the class within LTC.

We opted to conduct exploratory qualitative research with a broad set of LTC stakeholders. We conducted qualitative interviews with medical directors, attending physicians, directors of nursing, and consultant pharmacists who work in/support SNFs and ALFs, exploring how, if at all, this drug might fit into the treatment paradigm within LTC.

The research showed that diabetes was not a top priority for many leaders at LTC facilities; there were so many other things for them to worry about that diabetes fell to the bottom of the barrel. As a result, they did not see an unmet need. This suggested market shaping would be necessary. In addition, we learned that health economic and outcomes data related to improving quality of life and reducing healthcare costs could position our client’s new drug to be a class leader.

This project highlighted the importance of targeted outreach – a general positioning would not effectively increase uptake within LTC. Although this is a specific case (diabetes within LTC), we can generalize the key lessons from this approach to the management of any product:

  1. Consider different ways of segmenting your market. While we are proponents of segmenting on needs or attitudes, a facility-based segmentation helped our client take distinct actions that matched how its salesforce could best activate targets. Segmentation is only effective when it can be implemented successfully.
  2. When all manufacturers focus on large markets (e.g., outpatient diabetes care), explore opportunities in smaller markets (e.g., LTC). Can you gain a high share in a smaller market, justifying the increased spend of tailored marketing? Can this carry over into other markets (halo effect)?
  3. When conducting exploratory research, you need to be holistic. Had we considered only the clinical benefits of the product in this research, it would have provided little value to our client. Instead, we discovered how this drug may also improve the quality of life of the nursing staff. This was an important learning for how our client should position its new drug.

Taking a holistic approach to marketing like our client did in this case has a myriad of benefits. Be sure to take a step back, consider the bigger picture, and evaluate whether there might be areas of opportunity for optimization within your business’ offerings.