A critical piece of successful product development is ensuring commercial strategy aligns and is supported by a clinical plan and product labeling. Even at an early stage in product development, having a comprehensive view of the patient’s anticipated journey is a part of establishing customer insights. This requires uncovering and understanding multiple viewpoints where intentional questions and data analytics can further your view of a market opportunity and help identify the right commercial strategy. The patient journey is also important for identifying potential leverage points for a brand. In general, this mapping aligns what is happening with the patient by investigating five core elements.

1. Awareness

It’s important to explore what’s happening with the consumer even before they talk to their healthcare practitioner. How do they know there is a problem? How long did they experience symptoms before taking any form of action? What information are they seeking and from where?

Learning how to speak with consumers in a meaningful way leads to understanding how to potentially accelerate the process of the consumer presenting to an HCP where a diagnosis can be made or a treatment recommendation can be provided.

2. Origination

When and how do consumers become patients? Routine check-up or special visit? Who initiates the discussion? By understanding these moments, commercial teams will learn how to help practitioners and patients have more productive conversations.

3. Evaluation/Diagnosis

What tests, questions, or procedures are key to a diagnosis? How many visits does it take to obtain a diagnosis? Is a referral involved? Insights derived from understanding the drivers and barriers of an evaluation (and re-evaluation) for a disease informs the brand team of what it takes to get to a treatment decision.

4. Treatment Choice

When and how are patients treated? With what types of agents? What approach is used: watch and wait, lifestyle changes, OTC, or Rx? Where are patients managed? The decisions being made for treatment help clarify clinical trial design and even patient recruiting as there is greater understanding about how the product aligns with the HCP’s mental algorithm, as well as what drives switching or adding from/to a product.

5. Fulfillment/Compliance

Are patients doing what the HCP recommended? Do patients fill their prescriptions? Where? Are they adherent? How long are they persistent? What does the patient report back to their HCP? Is coverage and reimbursement a barrier? Does packaging impact compliance?

Drug developers can do all the right things to create a product addressing the needs of patients, but any barrier to obtaining the drug such as payer restrictions or distribution challenges, and the prescription is lost.

Understanding key leverage points is a critical tool for commercial decision-making as it impacts positioning, shapes messaging, and supports major resource decisions while helping to define product lifecycle needs over time. When gleaned early enough, these insights can be used to impact decisions at every step along the development path.

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