Customer Experience (CX) as a trend or priority has finally become ‘en vogue’ for the pharmaceutical industry –– with good reason. As technology expands and creates new opportunities for engaging with patients, the experience possibilities are only increasing. However, industry commercial leaders tell us they often struggle to convert this theory into practice. Customer Experience can mean so many things –– so where should they put their focus? How much potential really exists? And how do these leaders convert CX into meaningful impact for their businesses?

We see many leaders who invest in experience efforts and research, creating concepts that are very customer-centric, but often not overly impactful to the business. Without a more direct return on investment, many of these efforts are difficult to sustain.

Therefore, in order for the industry to drive the most value for both customers and manufacturers, more sophistication is needed to decide where to place customer experience investments based on their potential. It requires a clear view of the unique asset, and an understanding of the ecosystem, specifically around market, disease, and patient dynamics.

Room for improvement: only a third of patient groups believe that the industry was “excellent” or “good” at putting patients first¹.

To this end, our team has begun a journey of bringing more systematic commercial acumen to the challenge of CX. We thought, “What if we could use a systematic model to help us bring science to the art of experience?”

After extensive research and effort, our team now has built what we are calling the Experience Potential Index (EPI). Our EPI is intended to deliver more targeted and higher value customer experience strategies that bring value to both the company and customer.

A great experience strategy starts with clarity and focus

Our first task in designing and developing our EPI was to determine where the most potential for experience efforts across the patient journey for an individual asset exist.

Many brands invest in deep research and understanding of the journey, which is no doubt an important step in any strategy development. However, if you have a hyper competitive therapeutic category for a once-daily oral solid, for example, the opportunity for customer experience may be very different than the opportunity to shape diagnosis support in rare disease. So, putting some measurable criteria around this question can help our clients focus for impact.

To get there, our team aggregated research from over 60 brands across eight therapeutic areas and measured the experience potential across the customer journey based on several key considerations.

For every major brand, we analyzed the unique parameters of the disease, the therapy, and the competitive market to systematically assess the experience potential. This allowed companies to know where to target CX efforts in the journey and, most importantly, how to realize the commercial and patient benefits while doing so.

Without understanding where to focus CX efforts, it’s easy to try and “boil the ocean,” meaning it’s nearly impossible to achieve. Historically, brands have looked to spread CX efforts across all phases of the patient journey – and even all brands - to cover all the bases, but this practice isn’t a smart use of effort or dollars.

Making a difference

So, can it work? We’ve been trying to find out in practice.

Recently, for a novel non-narcotic chronic pain drug launch, we used our EPI to help zero in on where CX efforts would create the most impact for patients and healthcare providers (HCPs), as well as where it would drive the most value for the manufacturer. Because the condition is so wide-spread and relatively easy to diagnose, the EPI confirmed our CX focus should not be up-funnel around awareness and diagnosis. Rather, it should be further along the patient journey during the initiation and maintenance phases. Further, key safety considerations and therapy delivery complexity focused us in on a high potential in the administration / treatment initiation space.

  • Initiation: This therapy involves several qualifying steps for the patient to even begin therapy. Beyond the usual insurance hurdles, patients are required to go through several safety protocols before getting their first injection. The EPI pointed our CX efforts to focus on guiding both patients and providers through this process to make it as seamless and intuitive as possible.
  • Maintenance: Because of a potential serious drug side effect, it is essential for both patients and providers to carefully monitor the impact of the drug after initiation. This is an ongoing risk/benefit assessment of efficacy and safety: is this working and am I seeing improvement; and is anything out of the ordinary happening?

The EPI pointed to putting our CX efforts to helping patients and providers effectively track pain levels and functional abilities, such as walking, gardening, or playing with grandkids over time. In addition, we focused monitoring for safety events to ensure it was worthwhile for the patient to stay on treatment. Tracking this data can serve as powerful Real World Evidence (RWE) that will enable providers to see data-oriented evidence of efficacy and serve as proof to payers around reimbursement efforts.

Challenging the status quo of experience in this way and helping patients see their progress will ultimately help drive additional progress and innovation.

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Historically, brands have looked to spread CX efforts across all phases of the patient journey – and even all brands - to cover all the bases, but this practice isn’t a smart use of effort or dollars.


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Data, humans and true transformation

For experiences to drive value for the brand, they must be developed and measured at the intersection of human value and business value. This is the foundation of an experience-led strategy and core to our EPI.

This is the first in a series. In our next post, we’ll dive deeper into the application of our Experience Potential Index, how it works and explore real-world examples of where it has been applied.

  1. Accenture Harnessing Change for Growth

Ray Pressburger

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Commercial, Sales and Marketing, Life Sciences

Matthew Dobbin

Managing Director – Accenture Interactive​

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