GERD treatment grabs the attention of patients, doctors

Mederi Therapeutics set out to drive awareness of Stretta Therapy, a device for treating gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Client: Mederi Therapeutics (Norwalk, Connecticut)
Agency
: Pascale Communications (Fairfield, Connecticut)
Campaign:
Stretta Revitalization
Duration
: November 2013 – November 2014
Budget
: $132,000

Stretta Therapy is a device for treating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that was originally launched by Curon Medical in 2000. Mederi Therapeutics acquired the brand in 2008, updated it, and relaunched it in 2012.

Mederi hired Pascale Communications in late 2013 as AOR for PR, and the team set out to drive awareness of Stretta and its benefits among patients and doctors.

"We’re rebuilding the brand, so raising awareness has been important," explains Mederi’s director of marketing communications Sheila Doyle. "Ten years of data from independent clinical studies has now been published in peer review journals, which solidifies the brand within the medical community. Getting this critical scientific data out to the professional audience has been key to our growth, while our consumer effort has dramatically increased recognition and acceptance of the procedure."

Strategy
"This was an educational campaign aimed at healthcare professionals and consumers that leveraged the long-term data as well as patient advocates and key opinion leaders weighing in on patient benefits," explains Julia Brannan, project specialist and strategist at Pascale Communications.

Media relations, social media outreach, and Stretta-therapy.com drove messaging.

Tactics
Doctors in six key US markets, including New York, Baltimore, and Houston, who had seen good results with Stretta gave unpaid interviews to mainstream consumer print and broadcast outlets in each market.

"We didn’t media train the doctors," Brannan says. "They all spoke first person about their own experience with Stretta. "We did share key messages with some of the doctors who made TV appearances to ensure the product information was 100% accurate."

The physicians and some of the hospitals with which they are affiliated promoted the coverage on their social media channels.

Trade media were pitched clinical study data and physician testimonials. The team also helped place stories written by doctors. 

Mederi’s and Stretta’s LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube pages were used to engage potential patients and doctors in conversations about GERD and Stretta.

The team attended about 20 trade shows and tweeted live from each.

News and patient stories were posted to a revamped brand website (stretta-therapy.com), which went live in May.

Results
Doyle reports global sales increased 300% year-over-year.

"We’re very pleased with the overall campaign and its effect on sales," she says. "Awareness building has been huge. We now get inquiries about Stretta from patients and doctors." 

The number of Stretta providers in key US markets has increased significantly, and Mederi launched Stretta in Mexico, Argentina, Australia, and Malaysia.

Brannan adds that doctors have noted increases in patient calls about the treatment.

"One doctor in Houston who appeared on TV received so many inquires that he hosted a webinar to explain the procedure," Brannan says.

Several large, private insurance carriers recently included access to Stretta treatment for their customers.

Website traffic between May 2014 and September 2014 jumped 40% compared to the same months in 2013.

Mederi’s LinkedIn followers increased 200% during the campaign. Stretta’s Twitter followers increased 100%.

About 40 stories ran in outlets including The Doctors, Fox News Health, NBC Houston, CBS New Orleans, General Surgery News, and Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News.

Future
Media relations is ongoing. The team also is working on a multi-channel effort for National GERD Awareness Week November 23 to 29. 

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