The power of the patient journey to drive launch uptake

02 May


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Meet the Launch experts at Trilations

By creating a patient journey prior to launch, a pharma company can quickly identify opportunities to influence when different stakeholders make their critical decisions, and what bottlenecks the company needs to address. The patient journey helps companies tailor their approaches to specific patient populations.

Unlocking the value of customer insights in the patient journey will help build a powerful Strategic Launch Plan.

At Trilations, launch experts Leen Helsloot and Kurt Arco have been building Patient journeys for many clients.  Time for some questions about the steps to unlocking the value of a patient journey to support a successful launch.

How can a patient journey help in building a strategic launch plan?

Kurt: If a pharma company understands the disease area dynamics, key bottlenecks and drivers of stakeholder behaviour early enough when phase 2 trials are taking place, meaning from the start launch teams are formed at a global level, it can shape the product during development to reduce some of these barriers. Even more importantly, companies can refine their product development process based on discovered insights. For example, based on the patient journey work that we did for some clients, they have redesigned Phase III clinical trials to incorporate patient and physician insights into the product design. Clients have also used Patient journey insights about payers to adjust pricing and have launched early marketing efforts to influence decisions along the patient journey.

Leen: A well-built patient journey based on Care Pathways can provide the foundation for far richer and more useful forecasting models than the “market and share growth” financial models that companies typically use. The Patient journey framework supports insights-driven forecasting for which the underlying drivers can be tested. It also explicitly links forecasting to commercial strategy.

Kurt: The Care Pathway approach also provides valuable insight for senior leadership. Knowing where the greatest growth opportunities exist across the company– by therapeutic area and product, provides new intelligence to management about how to prioritize its strategic initiatives and investments.

What are the key elements in creating the patient journey?

Kurt: Start early with the process of building a Patient journey

This requires highly interactive and cross-functional participation.  Ideally, the collaboration should start early in the process when phase 2 studies are designed. It typically brings out hidden gems of insight buried in existing data. Quite often, it also reveals overlooked capabilities and knowledge in the organization.

Leen: Target a broad range of stakeholders

The patient journey includes customer insights to create a comprehensive, strategic view of disease areas, and identify the key moments when pharma companies can accelerate patient journeys on the path to best care. To do that you should first align internally before aligning with external stakeholders. At a minimum, you should consider all stakeholders into the different steps of the patient journey. For example, what we see in a lot of cases is that payers are missing: ‘Who pays at each step in the patient journey’ “What are the payers paying for’. Also, which HCP tend to see most of the patient’. It’s important to quantify as much as you can in each step of the patient journey.

Kurt: Align teams cross functionally & facilitate communication

The process of constructing the Patient journey helps break down the organization’s barriers to collaboration and stimulates knowledge-sharing. Try to facilitate communication between global and the regional/ local affiliates and integrate their input in global launch planning. Ideally from an early stage, i.e. Phase 2/3.

Leen: Common language:

By creating an insights-based narrative about patient behaviours, the organization gains a common language for productive dialogue across functions. When people across the company understand the Patient Journey it becomes far easier for them to align around a few critical opportunities, reduce complexity, increase efficiency of commercial and R&D resources, and align the brand and product teams around goals that can be clearly articulated to senior management.


The Patient journey process helps companies early enough in the launch process so they can make tough decisions about the drug and shape the data generation strategy to ensure the specific market needs can be addressed. By this they will be able to plan for a successful launch.

This requires the launch teams to anticipate how the market will evolve and understand the changing environment throughout the drug’s life cycle. To achieve this the launch teams need to collaborate earlier in the process, anticipate the crucial steps in the patient journey and anticipate changes within the market.


Top experts from Trilations, a strategic marketing consultancy that has been involved in major drug launches in over 40 countries and over 15 therapy areas.

Leen has 10 years of experience in advising major pharma companies on global and European launch programmes for strategic brands.

Formerly with MSD (Merck & Co), where he led several major brands launches internationally, Kurt has 20 years of launch experience within big and small pharma/biotech companies. He became part of the CelforPharma expert panel and delivers a 2-day course on Launch excellence jointly with his collegue Dr. Joeri De Haes

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