Adopting the New Patient Journey Framework for Marketing

Author: Courtney Gardiner (Research & Marketing Associate)

Marketing within the healthcare industry has been rapidly changing due to the growing influence of patients. Physicians are no longer the main focus in marketing when trying to determine market access and product launch success. Because patients are becoming more knowledgeable and getting involved in selecting and switching therapies, marketers are in need of adopting a new approach: the “Patient Journey” framework.

With the shift in power and influences, it is important to understand the patient impact on activities and spending for marketing communications with patients. “Understanding these key concepts leads to marketers changing their approach from products to patients, “ said a Senior Marketing Director who participated in our recent study on this issue.

“Since we changed our focus from products to patients, we have seen a big impact on the business. We have seen about a billion dollars of uplift in one of our products associated with our patient-journey work. Patient focus will be a primary driver for the next several years,” said the Senior Director.

The Patient Journey framework consists of six stages:

  • Awareness & Screening
  • Diagnosis of Condition
  • Consider Therapeutic Options
  • Treatment (within Healthcare Provider office)
  • Disease Management (Adherence, Compliance & Persistency)
  • Patient Empowerment

Patient influence is ascending and marketers are challenged to invest wisely across the full patient journey. A Senior Director of Marketing that participated in our study acknowledges that throughout the product’s lifecycle, investment levels change.

“Investment levels at different stages of the patient journey change as the product goes through launch, introduction, growth, maturity. When we are introducing, it’s going to be different than when we are in a growth mode and there’s already a lot of awareness of the product. We’re going to be focusing on that journey point where we find need and where have advantage with our products or our services,” said the Senior Director.

For marketers to fully grasp how much to invest, it is important to understand the power shifts that are occurring within the Healthcare system.

Many forces cause the market to change. The Affordable Care Act and other market changes are challenging pharmaceutical marketers. Power and influence are shifting among market constituents. Patients remain central to success. No longer do physicians alone determine market access and product success. Patients are better informed and have more choices. Patients themselves are central to decisions on starting, sustaining, or switching therapies.

Patient-focus critical in crowded markets. In crowded markets, many factors in addition to efficacy and safety influence patient preferences and choices. Patient-focused programs and support are increasingly forms of differentiation.

Navigating requires process orientation. For many patients — especially with chronic care conditions — the journey lasts for years. Pharmaceutical marketers are challenged to reach beyond their traditional product-orientation and conduct patient marketing, education, and support across a multi-period lifecycle.

Reliable industry metrics in the study include the current spending levels, key activities, and investment allocation patterns for marketing to and interacting with patients. The six-step Patient Journey framework can serve as a benchmark for companies to acquire, convert, support, and retain patients for their medical products.


Originally published at whybenchmarking.com on October 15, 2015.