Heal yourself, patient journeys as a strategic tool for pharmaceutical companies

05 February 2020

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by Gbenga Olatunji - Director, Strategy&

+44 (0)7824 596016

As patients are increasingly engaged in their own healthcare, and as their needs are evolving, pharmaceutical companies now have the ambition and the need to achieve greater patient centricity.

Companies that operate in specialty care therapy areas, such as oncology, have a history of working closely with patients and patient groups, often as part of market access initiatives or to provide disease and treatment information. In the past decade, that engagement has also expanded to include patient services, patient advisory boards and collaboration on a broader agenda including product development.

A recent article by Strategy& describes the potential for greater collaboration between pharma companies and patient communities and shows how patient centricity can expand much further in the future.

This includes how patient insight can become a key part of the brand planning process for pharma companies.

Companies should develop a full understanding of the patient’s journey. The patient’s experience of their disease will often commence long before they ever need to take a pill or undergo any treatment. Many illnesses will have started well before any symptoms manifest and in some cases, those symptoms may initially be missed, ignored or misinterpreted.

Patient journey blog


It is enormously beneficial to properly understand the behaviours of patients and other stakeholders; the drivers of those behaviours and any barriers to achieving optimal outcomes.

With this information there is an opportunity for brand teams to bring patient centricity into brand planning. These customer insights can be used to impact the decision making that affects their brands - these are outlined in our Patient Journey Framework below.

Patient journey blog image 2


The main elements at the core of the framework are the pathway, flow and analysis. To develop a representative patient journey that generates valid insights, multiple inputs are required including treatment guidelines, market research, patient and physician interviews, ethnographic studies and even social listening.

This will then generate strategic opportunities and insights which can be applied to their objectives of market expansion, share gain or increased volume. The insights could also inform forecasting and medical plans as well as looking at broader outcomes such as the role of the caregiver or how to enhance the quality of life for patient’s family.

Making it work

It is vital that the quality of the data is high - this will have an impact on the strength of the overall outputs. It’s also critical to the success of the approach that there is cross-functional leadership, support and alignment between the teams involved, including those at global, regional and affiliate level. 

As patients take greater control of their own healthcare and disease management, companies will do well to see this an opportunity to change their own approach - they will undoubtedly reap the benefits of putting their customers front and centre. 

by Gbenga Olatunji - Director, Strategy&

+44 (0)7824 596016