Healthcare Communications: A Successful Medical Device Launch Strategy

Prepare the market for a successful challenger pharma or medical device launch.

In the highly competitive and often cluttered world of pharma and medical device organizations, strategic market preparation is crucial for success, especially for challenger brands. While there is no one-size-fits-all blueprint for a pharma or medical device launch strategy, there are some best practices to live by:

Start Yesterday

Early and effective communication with key audiences, including providers, patients, advocacy groups, health influencers and other stakeholders, plays a vital role in any successful launch plan. This often means kicking off your launch plan up to 18 months in advance.

Getting out ahead is critical in building awareness, audience understanding and market demand. Challenger brands cannot afford to wait until the launch period to begin introducing their products. Patients and physicians tend to be skeptical of new healthcare approaches, often preferring the familiarity of existing methods. Launches often come with unforeseen roadblocks, and having that long runway allows time to adapt and evolve your plan accordingly.

Understand FDA Marketing Regulations

Compliance with FDA marketing regulations is imperative for pharma and medical device brands. Medical device brands face unique challenges due to strict FDA guidelines regarding medical claims. A successful pharma or medical device launch strategy must align with these regulations, primarily focusing on providing scientific, educational materials that adhere to FDA guidelines.

To comply with FDA marketing regulations, it is crucial to ensure that all promotional materials accurately represent the product’s labeled usage, techniques, safety, and associated risks. Brands must avoid making misleading claims or exaggerations that could misinform healthcare professionals and patients.

Leverage Data to Tell Your Story

When overly promotional tactics are restricted by FDA regulations, challenger brands can rely on data and research to effectively prepare the market. Sharing trial data and research findings can educate healthcare professionals, showcasing how a new advancement can address existing gaps and improve patient experiences and outcomes. By providing evidence-based educational content, challenger brands effectively prime the market for their upcoming product launch.

In addition to trial data, research studies, and clinical evidence, utilizing real-world data and patient testimonials can strengthen the case for the brand. Real-world data demonstrates the practical impact of the product, while patient testimonials provide firsthand accounts of improved outcomes and experiences. These data-driven approaches instill confidence in healthcare professionals and patients, encouraging adoption of the brand’s solutions.

Build a Case for the Need

Highlighting the necessity of a product is as important as explaining its functionality. Before the launch, educating the market about current patient issues or opportunities helps create a compelling case for change. For instance, sharing research data that reveals the challenges patients face with existing competitive offerings, primes physicians to be more receptive to alternative solutions.

To effectively emphasize the need for the brand’s product, challenger brands should conduct market research to identify pain points, unmet needs, and areas of improvement within the current healthcare landscape. By aligning the product’s features and benefits with these identified needs, challenger brands can position themselves as valuable solutions that address the gaps in existing treatments or procedures.

Find Power in Partnership

For challenger brands that lack the broad awareness and resources of competitors, collaborations and partnerships with research institutions, other healthcare organizations and advocacy groups can be a powerful way to establish credibility and endorsement. Such alliances can provide access to additional influencers, expertise and patient populations, enabling broader market reach and enhancing your brand’s credibility.

Think Digitally

Digital platforms play a crucial role in a pharma or medical device launch strategy by building awareness and reaching target audiences. Implementing healthcare digital marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media campaigns, targeted advertising and content marketing help maximize brand visibility and engagement with healthcare professionals and patients.

Establish Thought Leadership

Thought leadership also plays a significant role in market preparation. By sharing valuable insights, research, and expertise, challenger brands – as well as their leaders – can position themselves as credible experts and innovators in their respective fields. Publishing informative articles, contributing to industry publications and engaging in speaking opportunities are just a few ways to establish credibility and gain recognition within the healthcare community.

Enlist Advocates

Establish strategic collaborations with healthcare professionals, key opinion leaders and industry influencers to create a network of support and endorsement. By involving these stakeholders early on, challenger brands can leverage their expertise, gain valuable insights and build strong relationships that foster acceptance and adoption of their products.

Challenger pharma and medical device brands have to overcome a variety of obstacles right out of the gate – low awareness, limited resources, lack of understanding from the audience – but careful market preparation can help alleviate some of these struggles. Having an effective pharma or medical device launch strategy in place – and the right partners to help you execute it – will pave a path forward in the race for market share.

This post was updated from June 2019, and originally written by Fred Lake.


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