The Second Pillar of Next-Best Action: Aligning to the Patient Journey

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In the first installment of our series on the Four Pillars of Next-Best-Action Success, we explored Pillar 1: Omnichannel Integration, and the importance of reaching physicians across the multitude of channels where they actively seek brand content. But omnichannel placement is only one part of the next-best-action story.  

The patient journey isn’t linear. To be truly relevant and actionable, brand marketing needs to reflect the evolving needs and challenges at each stage, and deliver the most helpful content accordingly. That’s Pillar 2: Patient-First Data and Message Delivery. 

Translating the Patient Journey into Patient-Centric Pharma Marketing 

Most brand marketing strategies start with patient journey maps, but these tend to be planning – not execution – tools. In practice, there’s often a disconnect between what physicians and patients are seeking, and the type of brand content that is served to them. While every patient journey is different, there is consistency in what information and resources are most relevant at each stage. Here’s what you need to know:

Symptom Awareness and Diagnosis

The patient journey begins with patients experiencing a health issue and seeking care. But
100 million US adults don’t have access to primary care, which makes getting to the right doctor a challenge. And even when they do, 12 million patients are misdiagnosed each year. That means patients need information about what their symptoms could mean, along with directions to accessible care resources. Similarly, physicians benefit from content that helps them arrive at the correct diagnosis faster. 

Treatment Selection and Fulfilment

Once the (correct) diagnosis is made, the next step of the patient journey is to select and start on therapy. But
77% of physicians struggle to stay up-to-date on the latest treatment options. And that’s before formulary and step therapy requirements, high out-of-pocket costs, limited distribution networks, and other barriers impact the first fill. Addressing these challenges isn’t just about providing physicians with an array of information, but about curating that information based on their specific patients’ situations and integrating it seamlessly into the clinical workflow. 


CDC estimates that 20-30% of prescriptions are never filled, and medication is not taken as prescribed 50% of the time. Costs are frequently cited as a barrier, along with side effects / adverse events, and perceptions of ineffectiveness. Helping patients stay on their medications requires connecting them with financial and patient support resources, but also proactively flagging those patients at risk for non-adherence. 

Disease Progression and Additional Treatment

The care journey doesn’t end at adherence, given that many patients find that they need second-line or add-on treatments. But navigating clinical eligibility for advanced therapies – not to mention utilization management processes – is easier said than done. As with the other stages on the journey, life science brands can help physicians and patients start and stay on therapy by
identifying patients before disease progression or therapy eligibility, then providing information targeted to patients’ situations.


Turning the Patient Journey into Next-Best-Action Marketing

Next-best-action marketing works because it links life science brand marketing to actual patient and physician needs – needs that are governed by the patient journey. And translating static patient journey maps into dynamic marketing programs requires the
right data resources and AI technology. Stay tuned for our next installment to explores how patient and physician intelligence enables targeting precision and impact.