In today’s digital world, traditional pharmaceutical promotion has been significantly disrupted. The rise of patient consumerism means that patients are increasingly empowered by expanding information and choices. They are confident and willing to take greater control of their own health.

As a pharma marketer, do you know which triggers and touch points are most impactful for both physicians and patients, and how to maximize your influence there? Which product features should you leverage in your communication strategy, and what will persuade formulary committee members to recommend your product?

recognizing patients' needs at various stages of their journey is important

Physician journey mapping in the digital age

It isn’t just the consumer journey being disrupted. For many years, sales representatives, advisory boards, and brochures have been the gold standard in communication between pharma companies and physicians. Now, medical professionals can be as much as 70 percent through their decision journey before they even talk to your sales representatives.

It’s time to rethink traditional physician engagement strategies to reflect this fundamental shift in the way medical professionals are engaging with your company. Key to this is a foundational understanding of physician decision journeys at they play out today.

Process mapping physician and patient journeys

Whether patient or physician, every decision journey is different. Meanwhile, the traditional decision journey is constantly being disrupted by new information, options and influencers. This is where decision and customer journey mapping comes in, revealing to you the evolving behavior patterns of how your customers research and buy products and services and providing actionable insights that you can take back and implement across all levels of your business.

Choosing the right journey framework is the critical first step in mapping your customers’ current decision journeys.

Find out how our deep experience and advanced analytics can help you to uncover new insights about key touchpoints and their impact on decision behavior.

The patient-centric journey framework

Traditionally, the patient journey framework has taken more of a product-oriented view than a patient view. As the pharma commercial model continues to evolve into one that is more patient-centric, a new framework is emerging, one that actually centers around patient need-states, emotions and behaviors.

Using this framework, pharma brands can overlay clinical and treatment approaches and uncover gaps in patient experiences. Through this approach, pharma brands can realign brand messaging, digital assets and patient support programs with patient needs at sub-journeys and other key moments.

The key to applying this patient-centric framework is to look at a different starting point—patient need-states—regardless of treatment events or even disease indications. Sometimes, a co-morbidity from another disease reveals significant patient unmet needs, which would be missed with a traditional journey framework. A patient-centric view can avoid the tunnel-vision associated with a single disease, treatment or product.

By prioritizing sub-journeys and key moments, this framework breaks the perception that a patient journey is a large-scale, check-off-your-list and once-in-a-commercial-lifecycle project. Instead, it becomes laser-focused and ongoing, creating immediate commercial impact even post-launch.

the patient centric journey

Developing a more useful patient journey mapping template

While it did take the patient perspective, the traditional patient journey was largely a treatment journey. A list of 20 possible interventions at 20 different leverage points lent itself well to visual representation, but offered little help for prioritizing actionable ideas for the marketers and researchers working in the industry. To produce a more useful patient journey mapping template, we have adopted two techniques:

  1. First, patient journeys are divided into sub-journeys. Focusing on specific points in time rather than the full spectrum of the patient journey helps focus on the stage where a brand would have the most impact.
  2. Second, patients are encouraged to identify key moments, as opposed to a range of activities that solidified their decisions, such as the decision to seek treatment. Diving deeply into these key moments helps brands focus on the most critical experience gaps.

To learn more about the evolution of the patient journey in hospitals and other clinical environments, download this slidedeck presentation by SKIM experts Alex Zhu and Bill Salokar.

Patient-centric framework in action

We’ve assisted numerous pharma brands over the years with the process of mapping patient journeys. In this case, a pharma brand engaged us to conduct patient journey research to support a new product launch in the neurological space.

Traditional qualitative journey research often lacks focus given the sample size limitation, so we started with patient need-states, as opposed to treatment events. Our research identified a new stage, completely defined by patients. This new critical stage, which occurs prior to symptom stage – the starting point of a traditional treatment-centric framework – would have been ignored, had it not been for a patient-centric approach.

To drive the actionability further, our research focused on key moments for each patient need-state (as opposed to a wide range of potential leverage points), which brought focus to the qualitative research journey.

Uncover insights that inform your physician engagement strategy

Maximizing your influence over physician engagement means identifying granular insights into physician touchpoints and relevant content expectations. While your competitors continue to focus solely on patient journey mapping, connecting the dots between digital, traditional media and sales force against healthcare professionals’ decision journeys represents a phenomenal opportunity for you to gain a cutting edge.

To inform your physician engagement strategy, we apply our decision journey framework, helping you focus on the journey lenses that would be most impactful and put touchpoint patterns in context. Leveraging in-the-moment mobile qualitative research platforms enables you to get a step closer to the understanding of unconscious media exposure and behaviors. Using our interactive visual touchpoint mapping tool, we are able to provide you with a robust, holistic and quantitative analysis of physician decision journeys.


A physician journey mapping strategy helps pharma brands uncover insights that increase physician engagement. Download this brochure to find out more.

The healthcare journey mapping experts

As the continuously evolving omnichannel environment continues to disrupt established customer journey norms, brands from across healthcare and pharma segments are turning to healthcare journey mapping experts for actionable insights they can take back to their organization.

We have extensive experience reconstructing decision journeys from physicians as well as patients via our interactive mapping tool, using quantitative and in-the-moment qualitative research techniques.

What’s more, we will identify tipping points and patterns that are driving uptake of your product, arming you with insights needed to decide where and how to invest your marketing spend for the highest return.

Our healthcare industry specialists have an unrivaled track record of providing great answers to these and similar questions. It’s why global healthcare companies such as Bayer HealthCare, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Sanofi-Aventis come to us for conjoint analysis, maximum differential scaling, qualitative research and more.