Understanding the patient journey

action on rxPOST SUMMARY: It’s more important than ever to understand the patient journey from awareness of health condition/medication to filling and Rx at the pharmacy and taking their medication as prescribed.

When I see the same DTC commercials on TV over and over again, I wonder if the marketers behind the heavy frequency really understand the patient journey or funnel to purchase. Here are some things I have learned over the course of my work..

(1) Each patient journey, from awareness to conversion, is different by health condition and demographics.  There is not one “magic formula” for all age groups or health conditions.

(2) We need to better understand the attitudes and preconceptions of our target audience when it comes to medications.  For example, although there are some newer medications on the market for MS a quick check of social media indicates that MS patients are sharing a lot of negative views of these new medications vs. quality of life.



(3) Patients are going to use a variety of online health sites to learn all they can about medications, especially side effects.  This is also true for caregivers.

(4) Just because a doctor writes an Rx is no guarantee that the Rx is going to be filled.  Researchers at Harvard Medical School published a study to what has been termed “primary nonadherence” and found that more than 20 percent of first-time patient prescriptions were never filled.

(5) How we “talk” to patients is as important as the medication efficacy.  If the product website is “cold and sales talk” there is a higher chance that patients will use more resources to determine if your medication is right for them.

So what does this mean for DTC marketers?

1ne: We need to really gain an in depth understanding of our audience, including both their psychological and emotional needs when entering the healthcare transaction funnel.

2wo: We need to respond faster to “buzz” around audience concerns so that we can remove barriers to entry.  While you’re having meetings to determine what to say and how to say it, your audience has made the decision not to fill their Rx.


3hree: Think from doctor to patient conversion not awareness.  Enough with the COPD and Viagra spots they’re not working anymore.

4our: The product website has to do more than just educate and inform one segment, it has to drive conversion of different segments like those that have an Rx and are debating if they want to fill the Rx.


5ive: You can never have enough patient insights but have to know which insights represent opportunities and which ones are threats.

DTC marketers need to get inside the heads of their audience and think like patients before deciding which Unknown-2marketing initiatives are going to work.