Written by Richard Marcil on December 15, 2015
in Healthcare Marketing

McKinsey recently published an article titled “Debunking common myths about healthcare consumerism“.  Any pharma brand that is trying to participate in and shape PatientConsumer behavior can benefit from the extensive research pulled together from over 11,000 patient responses.

The article speaks to how PatientConsumers are taking a more active role in healthcare decision-making. And at the same time shows that some of the key assumptions we as marketers make about how and what they are doing are false.

The piece also highlights the intensifying influence and competitive threat of payers and providers – something that marketers underestimate, particularly in terms of brand disintermediation as payer and provider programs encroach on brand PatientConsumer relationships.

Some of the more important call outs from the article:

  1. Expectations of health brands are as high as retail and tech brands – and are driven by those consumer experiences.
  1. Satisfaction and engagement drivers are softer than we think, e.g. “keep me informed along treatment journey, deliver empathetic support” – and can be more powerful than ultimate outcomes.
  1. “Shopping” behavior is deeply reflexive for PatientConsumer, including healthcare consumption – it’s not nearly as well researched ahead of time as we think.
  1. PatientConsumers are embracing non-traditional health delivery such as retail clinics & support programs, which mean that these will become less niche over time.
  1. Every demographic group is taking advantage of technology, from booking appointments to checking health status – as marketers, we would be mistaken to focus only on the younger age groups with our technology solutions.


With 2016 planning behind us, now the real work begins, and a few questions come to the forefront:

  • Does marketing mix investment address the growing influence of the PatientConsumer and the shifting competitive balance?
  • Are planned brand programs competitive with direct competitors and indirect competitors like retailers, health networks, payers and digital health providers?
  • Does our current approach to patient journeys fully embrace the complexity of the situation that the PatientConsumer finds him or herself in?

What stands out most, from all that we at Ariad Health are seeing in the real world and reading from experts, is that, irrespective of therapeutic class, competition is not what it used to be. That’s why marketing mix and go-to-market approaches have to understand PatientConsumer needs and drivers on a more granular level, account for and address new competitors; establish and defend PatientConsumer relationships; differentiate through value-added services; and close the technology gap.

Richard Marcil is the General Manager at Ariad Health.

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