Matthew Dickinson

Utilising Patient Insight in Pharma Marketing

Insights category icon Insights

by Matthew | 30 Aug Read Time3 min

Matthew Dickinson, Managing Director of Dice, is an Economics graduate of Melbourne University, and entered the world of consumer advertising in Australia - working for global agencies DDB and Ogilvy. His experience drives Dice to deliver the best possible work for clients.


Successful campaigns are underpinned by a deep understanding of customer needs. This customer insight is a key component of all great marketing ideas; without it, a campaign may struggle to achieve the desired level of engagement or conversion.

In the pharma marketing world, insights can be drawn from various places, but those drawn from patient data are arguably the most powerful. 

As well as giving pharma brands valuable insight into their disease area, patient data can ensure that drugs are administered correctly, in turn reducing the cost burden on national health services.

Moreover, brands that are seen to put patients first – by taking account of their preferences, behaviours and treatment experiences – naturally tend to enjoy a stronger reputation.

As such, closer engagement with patients can deliver insights that lead to more effective treatments, better health outcomes and more impactful marketing. But how can pharma brands go about attaining these insights? 

Effective patient insight strategies 

There are various ways that pharma companies can uncover valuable insights on the dynamics and demographics of their disease area. 

These range from traditional methods of market research such as focus groups and in-depth interviews with HCPs, patients and carers, through to identifying and engaging with scientists, academics and other key opinion leaders (KOLs). 

Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) also provide insightful data on all hospital admissions in England, from clinical information on operations and diagnoses to patient data such as group, gender and ethnicity. 

Some of this data can be quite complex, but with the help of analytics solutions, NHS or pharmaceutical professionals can better understand and leverage the data for the benefit of patients. 

The Information Services Division (ISD) and Patient Episode Database for Wales (PEDW) provide equivalent data on patients residing in Scotland and Wales respectively. 

Building a strategy 

Once a pharma company has analysed the data at its disposal, it can be used to inform campaign strategy. This strategy is essentially an articulation of the insights uncovered by the data. Rather than hypothesising that the strategy will work ‘because it should do’, the insights provide a base for success. 

The key to interpreting data is understanding which data represents meaningful insights, while ignoring misleading facts and figures. Just because the data says one thing on paper, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s written in stone. Further interrogation will draw out the real meaning behind the data, which brands can then use to shape a campaign. 

Provided all stakeholders understand the rationale and data behind a strategy, a brand can be confident in its execution. 

Measuring the impact 

The importance of data and insights doesn’t stop upon campaign execution. Any diligent marketer will keep a close eye on the metrics, analysing how patient insights are impacting campaign performance and whether a company’s therapy is changing patient behaviour. 

Equipped with this data, pharma companies can continuously review, tweak, and ultimately improve their marketing campaigns. As new patient insights emerge, the messaging may become redundant, thus losing its resonance with the target audience.

By embracing the notion of ‘continuous marketing improvement’ – inspired by the Japanese term “kaizen” (change for the better) – pharma brands can become better at anticipating and meeting the needs of patients, thus leading to better health outcomes. 

At Dice, our specialist team has the expertise and experience to uncover patient insights from HES and other data sources. Please get in touch for more information on our Pharmacohesion® approach.