Designing a next-gen pharmaceutical customer experience

Revolutionize patient support programs and elevate care delivery

Patients play a crucial role in managing their own health, but many struggle to navigate the complexities of the health care ecosystem and require support. How can pharmaceutical companies help increase awareness and usage of patient support programs to better meet customer needs, build and sustain brand loyalty, and grow market share? Learn how creating a customer experience that integrates marketing, engagement, and services can help build trust and strengthen the pharma–patient relationship.

Pharma patient support: from selling to serving

The pharmaceutical industry’s role within a highly fragmented health care ecosystem is rapidly evolving from that of a treatment manufacturer to now serving as a trusted adviser to patients—to help them understand their diagnosis and treatment options; navigate to the right health care providers; and facilitate compliance with their prescribed therapy/drug regimens. With these shifts, customer needs, demands, and expectations are also rising.

To fulfill this obligation, pharmaceutical companies first need to recognize that patients play an outsized role in managing their health. Patients, even those with chronic conditions, typically interact with health care providers (HCPs) very infrequently over the course of the year. The rest of the time, it’s up to the patients to care for themselves. Even among the most able individuals, managing one’s health and health care without support can be overwhelming. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 40% of patients with chronic conditions report being unable to sustain their current investments of energy, time, and money in health care lifelong.

We have to ask ourselves: Are we giving patients the support they want, in the way they want, when they want it? Moreover, are we meeting and anticipating their needs? Support program usage rates would suggest not.

Research conducted by Phreesia in 2021 asked patients: “Are you currently using patient support programs?” Only 3% of potentially eligible patients said yes. Further, only 8% of patients have ever used support programs for their medications. Study results also indicate that a lack of familiarity with pharma company patient support programs and what they offer may contribute to low usage. Fifty-nine percent of respondents had little to no awareness of patient support programs. If given the opportunity to participate, 61% of patients don’t see much value in patient support programs.

Customer experience design: From selling to serving

Decisions are driven primarily by emotions

Our research found that organizations that have close alignment to their customers’ values and leverage resources to create meaningful experiences grow faster and build stronger brand loyalty. Other research shows that customers will engage more if they have a great customer experience, and that higher customer engagement correlates to increased brand awareness and loyalty. Consider the following:

  • 80% of customers say they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences.
  • 73% of consumers say a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties.
  • 77% of consumers say inefficient customer experiences detract from their quality of life.
  • 81% of companies view customer experience as a competitive differentiator.
  • 84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience report an increase in their revenue.
  • Companies with a customer experience mindset drive revenue 4% to 8% higher than the rest of their industries.

The way forward seems clear: Pharma companies seeking to strengthen their brand in a category charged with emotion should develop an insight-driven patient support and branding strategy that is responsive, adaptive, experience-focused, and hyper-personalized to the evolving needs of their customers.

This brand experience begins with the very first awareness and extends across all touchpoints, to create a desire for patients to engage with all aspects of the brand, including patient support services. In this way, having a strong brand strategy can directly lead to greater uptake in patient support programs, as well as programs that better meet patient needs. To learn more about how emotions can impact health care decision making, download our full report.

Tapping into the emotional aspects of human behavior

Start the journey to improve patient support services

People judge a brand by their experience with it, what it does for them, and what others say about it—not by what the brand says it is. As an industry and a brand, pharmaceuticals needs to design and deliver a customer experience that builds trust, offers engaging and responsive support, and strengthens the pharma–patient relationship.

If you’d like to talk more about improving patient support programs or the pharmaceutical customer experience, let’s have a conversation. Reach out to learn how Deloitte can help your company achieve its goals.


Viet-Thi Tran, Victor M. Montori, and Philippe Ravaud, “Is my patient overwhelmed? Determining thresholds for acceptable burden of treatment using data from the ComPaRe e-cohort,” Mayo Clinic Proceedings 95, no. 3 (March 2020): pp. 504–12. 
2. Phreesia, “Industry perspectives: Expanding awareness of patient support programs,” accessed June 2, 2023.
3. Mary C. Lamia, “Like it or not, emotions will drive the decisions you make today,” Psychology Today, December 31, 2010.
4. Marc Shulman, “Logic vs. emotions: Which is better?,” Long Island Psychology PLLC, June 22, 2017.
5 Amelia Dunlop et al., “We’re only human: Exploring and quantifying the human experience,” Deloitte Digital, August 7, 2019.
Blake Morgan, “50 stats that prove the value of customer experience,” Forbes, September 24, 2019.
10 Ibid.
11 Ibid.
12 Deloitte, “Life sciences marketing reimagined: A virtuous cycle for the future of health,” 2023.
13 Deloitte Digital, “Make brand a C-suite priority,” accessed June 2, 2023.
14 Dunlop et al., “We’re only human: Exploring and quantifying the human experience.”
15 Ibid.
16 Deloitte, “Deloitte Digital: Innovative approaches to keep patients connected to the ever-changing healthcare ecosystem,
accessed June 1, 2023.

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