Patient-Centric Product Commercialization: Part One

By Amy Grogg |

Part one: beyond the buzzword.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers know that just as no two products are the same, no two patients are the same - and neither are their treatment journeys. In addition, patients are no longer passive. They are active participants in their wellness as well as their disease. Because of the ease with which patients can now access medical information, they are engaged in their health and wellness prior to visiting their doctors. They engage with each other. They engage with their payers. They engage with technology to help them manage their healthcare and stay informed.

Recognizing this, the pharmaceutical industry is moving "beyond the pill" to focus on patient-centered solutions - enhancing the patient experience by proving product value, resolving barriers to access, designing empowering adherence programs and offering physicians, health systems and pharmacies solutions to improve efficiency and enhance patient care. By delivering the right mix of patient services, health outcomes improve. Designing programs to address what patients value, and then effectively coordinating and connecting the different types of patient programs, requires looking at each step in a product's commercialization through a patient's eyes. According to IMS Health research, "nine out of ten brand teams do not use the latest practices for building and using patient journeys, leaving gaps in market understanding or strategy execution and ultimately yielding sub-optimal brand performance."1

In short, making patient-centricity a reality is a tall order. Manufacturers that are meeting that challenge are developing programs that account for the role each stakeholder plays and integrating those offerings to create a targeted, specific experience for the patient. How are truly patient-centric programs different than what predominantly exists in the market? And how can manufacturers turn patient-centricity from buzzword into reality?

Understanding the Patient Experience

Brand teams can't focus on product features and benefits alone any longer. Putting the patient at the center demands understanding the patient holistically and considering all factors when developing the commercialization plan. The patient's treatment is influenced by many factors, as illustrated in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Factors Influencing Patient Treatment


Integrating All Stakeholders

Success will require manufacturers to develop, or collaborate with other stakeholders to support, programs that address all the needs of the patient - including those barriers that limit the patient's ability to understand and manage their condition. Who are these other players, and how are their roles in the patient journey evolving in ways that make them essential to manufacturers' commercialization strategies?

  • Payers. Spending on specialty drugs is expected to quadruple by 2020,2 and 70 percent of medications currently in the pipeline are first-in-class,3 which means payers are managing utilization more closely with tools such as prior authorization. The complexities in the managed care insurance landscape are daunting, and even more so for a patient with a devastating diagnosis. Nearly 40 percent of prescriptions requiring prior authorization never filled,4 leaving patients either untreated or under-treated. Patient-focused manufacturers will develop programs that bridge the gap between patient and payer to remove access barriers before they arise.
  • Pharmacists. The clinical community pharmacist movement means pharmacists are both prepared and excited to be able to engage with patients living with chronic disease. They are utilizing specific resources that allow them to not only look at adherence rates, but to go beyond adherence and look at clinical outcomes points such as blood pressure, side effects and more. Community pharmacists are reaching patients in new ways, with apps and web portals where patients are able to report how they are feeling, side effects, diet and lifestyle changes. With this technology, pharmacists don't have to wait for patients to show up on an exception report for not picking up their medicine. In addition, the pharmacist's accessibility and personal relationships with patients means they play an integral role in helping patients access any co-pay or patient assistance programs. Utilizing these programs that are designed to help patients overcome affordability challenges, as well as others that are designed to catch scripts requiring prior authorization at the point of sale, could reduce abandonment rates for high-priced oral specialty products. Utilizing programs that are designed to help patients overcome affordability challenges, as well as others that are designed to catch scripts requiring prior authorization at the point of sale, could reduce abandonment rates for high-priced oral specialty products.Since the pharmacist may see the patient more frequently than the physician, he or she is most likely to know when life changes, history or personality may impact access, affordability or adherence. Savvy manufacturers will tap into these engagement points by offering pharmacists education so they are aware of all patient services and technology solutions.

  • Providers. As more and more oral oncolytics enter the market and face new adherence challenges, many oncology providers face the question of whether or not to become dispensing practices. Doing so is one way these providers are making patient-centricity a reality, leveraging integrated pharmacy and EMR data to gauge efficacy and relying on care plans that are updated with the latest evidence to make clinical decisions that are best for the patient. Manufacturers looking to integrate this stakeholder into a patient-centric commercialization plan should consider: 

    • Providing education around product value and patient support programs 
    • Highlighting any differentiators in patient services offerings, such as transportation, caregiver support or e-services
    • Linking to the plan of care for patient outreach/touch points
    • Mining notes from EMR studies for insight into the patient journey.

    Part 2
     of this series explores the process of mapping the patient journey.

1. IMS Consulting Group. A New Foundation for Designing Winning Brand Strategies: The Patient Journey Re-Envisioned. 2014. Accessed 28 September 2015. Available online at Resource Center/IMSCG_Patient_Journey_WP_090714F.pdf
2. PWC Health Research Institute. Medical Cost Trend: Behind the Numbers 2015. June 2014. Accessed 2 Dec  2015. Available online at
3. Johnsen, Michael. New PhRMA Industry Profile Reports 7,000 Medicines Currently in Development. Drug Store News. 21 Apr 2015. Accessed 16 Oct. 2015. Available online at
4. Cover My Meds. ePA National Adoption Scorecard. October 2015. Accessed 2 Dec 2015. Available online at

About the Author

Amy Grogg

Amy Grogg

Senior Vice President Emeritus, Strategy & Commercialization
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