In September 2006, Asthma Score1 was launched in Australia to encourage people with asthma, pharmacists, and pharmacy assistants to use the Asthma Score – a novel and quick tool – to objectively assess asthma control. The initiative was aimed at improving asthma management for people living with the condition.
Many people living with asthma believe they have sufficient control of their condition. However, research shows that only one in 20 people with asthma has good control of their condition.2,3 This market research recognised that the Asthma Score could be especially useful in:
- Identifying people with asthma who could be better controlled
- Assessing a person’s level of improvement on a particular therapy
- Aiding compliance by demonstrating to people their improvement with treatment
Targeted at people with asthma, healthcare professionals (HCPs) and asthmarelated healthcare organisations, the program generated strong awareness of the initiative. It drove key consumer messages about the benefits of optimal asthma control via a highly successful consumer and medical media campaign. The campaign resulted in over 11 million people exposed to the campaign’s messages and 70,000 hits on the Asthma Score website on the day of the launch.
A series of pharmacy education initiatives empowered pharmacists and pharmacy assistants to effectively use the tool in their practice and refer customers with poorly-controlled asthma for further review by their doctors.
Many people living with asthma believe they have sufficient control of their condition. However, research shows that only one in 20 people with asthma has good control of their condition.2,3
Prior to the launch of the Asthma Score in Australia, there was no universal standardised measure to assess asthma control. This resulted in subjective symptom assessment by both HCPs and people living with asthma.
The Asthma Score (Appendix A – 11.1) was developed by a working group of primary care physicians and leading asthma specialists as a clinically validated and published tool that aligns asthma with other chronic diseases. Just as diabetes has blood sugar tests, hypertension has high blood pressure tests and cholesterol has lipid ratios, the customer-based Asthma Score was developed to provide a similar, specific measure for asthma. This simple resource enabled HCPs to accurately identify customers with poorly-controlled asthma in just two minutes.
By quickly answering a set of five simple questions and obtaining a numerical score out of 25 – one being poorly controlled and 25 being optimally controlled, all customers with asthma could be benchmarked against a standardised measure of control. The Asthma Score allows clinicians, pharmacists and people living with asthma to communicate in common terms to optimally manage their condition and ultimately, help them achieve total asthma control to live active, symptom-free lives.
In order to assess the asthma market, GSK commissioned Sudler and Hennessey to conduct research regarding the need for, construction and implementation of the Asthma Score, particularly behavioural patterns of people with asthma who may benefit from the tool and key facts about the tool relevant to HCPs. The research found that:
- Many people living with asthma believe they have sufficient control of their condition. However, research shows that only one in 20 people with asthma has good control of their condition.2,3
- A significant proportion of people with asthma mistakenly equate the absence of asthma symptoms with good control, highlighting the need to redress their misconceptions.
- There is a large pool of Australians with poorly-controlled asthma that could benefit from accurate assessment and more suitable treatment.
- The research identified segments of people with poor asthma control. ~ Young avoiders – Very aware of asthma symptoms and generally frightened of having an attack. However, rather than seek advice to improve asthma control, they avoid triggers/activities associated with the onset of asthma.
- Embarrassed and worried – Equates asthma with a personal weakness. They are afraid of having an asthma attack, but even more afraid of having it in public. They view asthma as a relatively severe health problem and are worried about the ramifications of asthma for their overall health.
It was imperative to use both medical and consumer audiences to develop greater awareness of asthma control and long-term lung health.
- Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants
- General practitioners (GPs)
As the first point of contact with the community for health information, pharmacists played a critical role to influence the perception of consumers with asthma. The campaign targeted pharmacists as first-line community health guardians, allowing them to accurately measure asthma control with a validated tool within the pharmacy. Importantly, the Asthma Score provided them with the opportunity to refer customers to their GPs for further review of their asthma care plan.
For GPs, the Asthma Score enabled them to move beyond patients’ subjective self-assessment and understand their actual level of asthma control. The rationale for targeting GPs was to make patients more receptive to doctors’ messages of long-term lung health.
- People with asthma (particularly adults)
- Families and friends of people with asthma
- General public
For many people living with asthma, total control is often perceived as an unattainable goal. The Asthma Score was launched to help people with the condition better understand their level of control. The critical change in the way people think about their condition and their actual level of asthma control would encourage them to seek better asthma care.
It was important for the campaign’s key messages to reach families and friends of people with asthma who may be involved in caring for them or would be key influencers in motivating them to complete the Asthma Score.
Edelman worked with GSK to develop a campaign strategy targeting consumers and healthcare professionals, in particular pharmacists and pharmacy assistants. The communication strategy was delivered against three strategic platforms:
Stakeholder Engagement Program
- Enlist the support and involvement of major healthcare bodies in Australia to be partners of the initiative. ~ Obtain endorsement of the Asthma Score by leading asthma associations to add credibility to the resource and garner further support from GPs and pharmacists (Appendix A – 11.2).
Asthma Score Launch
- Create and promote a new “buzz” around messages related to the benefits of better asthma management to raise awareness of the Asthma Score. ~ Enlist celebrities and everyday Australians with asthma and key opinion leaders (KOLs) as “Buzz Ambassadors” to bring the campaign messages to life, achieve greater cut-through with media audiences and spur consumers to take action.
- Informed people with asthma about the lifestyle benefits of effective asthma control to drive them to complete the Asthma Score online www.asthmascore.com.au, or by visiting their GP or pharmacy, or contacting their local Asthma Foundation on a designated toll-free number.
Asthma Score Pharmacy Education
- Work with leading asthma care organisations to develop a pharmacy educational meeting roadshow for pharmacists to provide an in-depth view of the Asthma Score: How it was developed, how to use it, its potential impact on their pharmacy business, role of pharmacists in asthma intervention.
- The meetings aimed to:
~ Provide quick assessment tools and effective communication techniques, using the Asthma Score to engage and manage customers for optimal asthma care
~ Offer insights into changing asthma practice including practical strategies to succeed in the new business environment
~ Provide a natural platform for pharmacists and pharmacy assistants to develop closer relationships with their customers.
In September 2006, the following activities were carried out in line with the campaign strategy to launch the Asthma Score.
Stakeholder Engagement Program
- Developed a stakeholder engagement program where Edelman approached a number of Australia’s leading healthcare organisations to secure involvement in the Asthma Score initiative
~ Worked with the National Asthma Council, Asthma Foundation of Australia, Pharmacy Guild and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA)
- Conducted a consumer and medical trade media campaign that proactively communicated key asthma messages to target audiences and drew people to the website.
- Scheduled the campaign for 4 September 2006 to coincide with the start of National Asthma Week
- Developed a range of materials to support the consumer and media campaign including media release, video and audio news release
- Recruited two celebrity “Buzz Ambassadors” with asthma – Peter Phelps and Alice Mills – to drive media interest.
- Developed and ran a series of educational meetings for pharmacists across the Eastern Seaboard to provide education on the Asthma Score.
~ Hosted meetings in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney (Appendix A – 11.6, 11.7).
~ Sought and secured accreditation for the program from the PSA.
~ Consulted with panel of experts to create meeting agenda and content (Appendix A – 11.4, 11.5).
~ Collaborated with a pharmacy specialist to develop and execute an interactive workshop and video case studies that introduced marketing psychology techniques to assist pharmacists to swiftly engage customers with asthma and promote behavioural change (Appendix A – 11.3).
~ Hosted a training workshop for pharmacists to provide them with the necessary communication skills to interact with their customers and quick assessment tools to effectively assess asthma control.
~ Researched and helped develop collateral for in-store promotion including posters, score pads, mats, and boxes (Appendix A – 11.8)
The Asthma Score was successfully launched, achieving the following results:
- Over 11 million people were reached via the media campaign to raise awareness of the Asthma Score, with coverage appearing on television, radio, print and online (Appendix A – 11.10, 11.11).
- 70,000 hits were recorded on the Asthma Score website on the launch day, indicating high success rates in driving people to the website (Appendix A – 11.9).
- Wide outreach to approximately 300 community pharmacists, with high attendance rates of 50 pharmacists per meeting.
- Solid endorsement of the Asthma Score, with key messages resonating strongly with pharmacists based on written feedback post-meeting (Appendix A – 11.12)
~ 80% of pharmacists valued the Asthma Score as a practical and tangible way to build strong pharmacist-customer relationships, from which they could drive customers with uncontrolled asthma to their doctors for further evaluation.
~ 80% of pharmacists welcomed the tool as a tangible means of improving asthma care for their customers, giving them the confidence to use it as part of ongoing asthma management.
- Extended dialogue to all pharmacists and pharmacy assistants across Australia, with a keen interest to gain more information and incorporate the practical tool in their daily pharmacy practice based on feedback postmeeting.
The Asthma Score initiative was highly successful, achieving the following outcomes in relation to the measurable objectives identified in section 3.2.
- To generate awareness of the Asthma Score.
- Over 11 million people were reached via the media campaign to raise awareness of the Asthma Score, with coverage appearing on television, radio, print and online
- To drive people with asthma to the Asthma Score website.
- 70,000 hits were recorded on the Asthma Score website on the launch day, indicating high success rates in driving people to the website
- To motivate pharmacists and pharmacy assistants to use the Asthma Score on a daily basis as part of ongoing asthma care for their customers.
- 80% of pharmacists valued the Asthma Score as a practical and tangible way to build strong pharmacist-customer relationships, from which they could drive customers with uncontrolled asthma to their doctors for further evaluation
- 80% of pharmacists welcomed the tool as a tangible means of improving asthma care for their customers, giving them the confidence to use it as part of ongoing asthma management
- To drive customers with uncontrolled asthma to their doctors for reassessment and improved health outcomes.
- Whilst specific measures into the number of consumers who sought advice from their doctors is yet to be completed, the number of Google searches suggests that the campaign resulted in an increase in the number of people seeking further information about the Asthma Score. Conversations online increased by 800% as measured by Google trends (Appendix A – 11.11).