Customer experience drives pharma’s long-term viability

Facing unprecedented disruption across the value chain, four in ten healthcare CEOs don’t think they will be economically viable a decade from now if they continue on their current path. For pharma, improving the customer experience across stakeholders — including patients, caregivers, healthcare providers (HCP) and payers — can benefit both the healthcare ecosystem and the business outcome.

Innovators that do this well test new approaches and audiences while consistently creating quality experiences that help enable true engagement. This level of consumer “obsession” is essential to retaining customers and driving growth for pharma companies in the future.

So, how can you design solutions that yield meaningful customer impact and brand results? Standing out requires focus on delivering easy, purposeful, personalized and adaptable interactions at every touchpoint:


Connectivity of data, technology and experience can empower customers to have seamless experiences across devices and channels.

Consumers, patients, caregivers and healthcare providers should be able to easily navigate interactions with pharma companies to meet their needs. This is becoming increasingly important — our loyalty survey data shows that more than half (51%) of consumers say they are less likely to be loyal to a brand if its online experience isn't as easy or enjoyable as in person. That percentage is highest for Millennials (57%) and Generation Z (69%).

  • Making an experience “easy” is actually quite difficult operationally, especially within the existing organization structures found within many pharma companies. Brand teams should utilize new research methods and human-centered design to understand and develop focused solutions to address the challenges facing their patients and customers.
  • Coordinating dynamic engagement strategies against multiple detailed customer journeys requires connecting processes, data and technology stacks across functions, such as business insights, medical, legal and regulatory (MLR), and corporate communications.
  • One innovator in this space is Hims & Hers Health.1 Having expanded from men’s health into women’s health and mental wellness, the company’s initial experiences with customers were conducted entirely over the phone, with seamless ordering, identity verification, an HCP consult and confirmation in a few easy steps.2 They continue to empower customers through choice, now providing products to customers in person through relationships with brick-and-mortar partners.
  • Another example is One Medical, which emphasizes the delivery of services through a convenient and customer-friendly experience. Personalized portals, phone calls and in-office experiences are enabled end-to-end by technology, helping One Medical offer customized care in whichever channel the patient prefers and reducing friction — raising the bar for the provider industry as a whole.3


Meaningful experiences that lead with a human voice.

As interactions move from being in person to remote to fully digitally immersive, engagement will come from the ability to create unique human experiences in a digital environment. Our research has found that connections are based on the seamlessness of engagement across channels and the belief that the company has a shared purpose. We call this customer attraction.

  • Companies that communicate with purpose and creativity define their audiences by both behavioral and attitudinal segments and often enjoy higher levels of customer satisfaction. Pharma companies, whose mission is centered on improving patients’ lives, should seek out solutions that consider the whole of the person and are relevant for their customers, patients and communities.

  • When Pfizer launched its “This is Living with Cancer” program, it aimed to help patients manage their disease.4 The program offered a coordinated set of services, featuring human care champions and an integrated digital tool to organize important information in one place. Patients could build networks and local communities, record health information and use wearables to track symptoms. By designing holistic solutions to meet patient needs across settings, Pfizer established a partnership across stakeholders with a shared purpose to improve patient health.


New analytics and tools can optimize channel selection and ensure differentiated, relevant experiences. 

Advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are giving many pharma companies new capabilities to automatically recommend the most effective channel to reach their target audience with relevant content. This new wealth of data is the result of generational shifts in comfort with providing personal information. That information can help create meaningful customer journeys and personas.

Starting with a robust internal data strategy and management processes, companies may also buy or build additional technology capabilities to drive personalization (such as customer data platforms and next best action engines). To improve returns, these tools should be integrated with existing technology infrastructure and processes should be evaluated, taking into account the implications for sales and marketing teams.


  • Personalized experiences require relevant content. In the future, generating the volume of content needed to meet customer and patient needs for omnichannel interactions will likely be enabled through modular content and an automated approach to medical, legal, regulatory (MLR) review that uses generative AI.
  • While Next Best Action engines are becoming more standard, there is an opportunity to broaden their use from automated emails and sales suggestions to coordinating all human+digital channels.


  • Biotechs are already using data to help patients. Kite Pharma used an integrated technology ecosystem to create a tailored experience that supports cancer patients through their chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) treatment journey. Patients are able to find a treatment center, track their personal medication and navigate reimbursement.5
  • Outside of pharma, insurers are leveraging patient data to better understand policyholders and craft personalized calls to action for healthcare interventions.6


The ability to continually uncover new insights can help you innovate and improve the customer experience.

Success in the future will depend on pharma’s ability and agility to harness technology to meet an evolving set of stakeholder needs at a faster pace and on a broader scale. One step is to embed a test-and-learn capability within your commercial function to harness innovations in digital engagement, AI and machine learning to improve processes, time to market and content across your ecosystem of channels and collaborators.

  • As we look to the future, digital innovations will provide new arenas for engagement and new opportunities to support providers in their interactions with patients. The fully immersive digital experiences made possible with AI in the future could have the potential to take telehealth to another level. Participants will have a far greater sense of “being there” for conferences as well as in interactions with sales teams, medical professionals and patient support services. Companies that position themselves to capture this opportunity can gain competitive advantage.

  • AI and automation are being widely used across the pharma industry and within the commercial function to improve impact. Novo Nordisk, for example, leverages AI to generate suggestions for email subject lines. In testing AI- versus human-generated email headers, the company found that machine-written headers led to higher engagement, with a 14%-20% open rate versus 12%.7 This helps the company to increase customer satisfaction and improve personalization potential while saving on marketing spend, time and effort.
  • Biohaven launched the migraine drug Nurtec (rimegepant), approved in 2020, with a digital-first model that included a combination of direct-to-consumer campaigns and telemedicine in addition to traditional sales representatives.8 Patients were encouraged to share their experience managing migraines on social media. The company was able to continuously evolve its digital content through a story engine that gleaned patient testimonials and reviews from the online chatter.9

Where does your company stand? Answer the four questions below

The need to move toward a human+digital future is clear, but the challenge is how to leapfrog competitors through smart investments of time and innovation resources. A coordinated approach across the enterprise is recommended to drive impactful change. In a PwC Pulse Survey in 2022, 60% of executives said that digital transformation was their company’s most critical growth driver. 

Ask yourself the following questions to gauge your readiness for customer engagement and take the recommended actions in the areas in which you can improve:

1. Is your company clear on why customer experience matters and how it contributes to the goals of the business?

Pharma can move beyond buzzwords to behavior by defining and aligning the organizational rationale, goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) for enhancing customer experience. We find it helpful to use objectives that the organization is driving toward, such as growth or shareholder value. This can direct innovation energy toward customer experience efforts that build on past efforts and are not siloed. 

Take action
  • Create a direct tie from customer experience to the organizational vision, objectives and financial performance. 
  • Establish a set of “golden KPIs” that are measurable and meaningful performance indicators.
  • Draw inspiration from the retail industry and have customer experience measures evaluated within performance.

2. Are you organized in a way that enables truly integrated experiences for patients and other customers?

The increasingly integrated nature of healthcare and the move toward account teaming means the definition of customer is expanding to care-adjacent stakeholders such as foundations, patient advocates and even payers. Creating holistic experiences requires new types of information sharing across commercial, medical, market access and R&D teams. Pharma companies should aim for consistency at each stage of the patient’s journey, including the movement from clinical trial to commercialization. 

Take action 
  • Identify the customer and prioritized engagement stakeholders.
  • Define aspirations at the brand level for targeted customer experiences.
  • Create omnichannel engagement strategies, including compliant use cases for cross-functional teaming.

3. Do you have the business and technical capabilities to prioritize and address the challenges your customers face today?

Pharma companies have identified areas customers find lacking today: clarity, connectedness, speed and personalization. Moving forward, industry leaders can differentiate themselves by investing in critical and complementary technical capabilities such as immersive and data-driven customer engagement, digitally enabled products, and innovative real-world evidence (RWE). We continue to see a large volume of digital experimentation, indicating that companies have not found the sweet spot between where to play, how to engage, and how to create patient impact and value.

Take action 
  • Take a use-case-driven approach to prioritize efforts to integrate and build process, technology and experience capabilities.
  • Understand and address patient and customer needs with a 360-degree view of stakeholders that integrates internal and external data assets. This will allow you to better segment and target audiences and meet their specific, personalized needs.
  • Streamline and improve content creation and approval processes through the adoption of modular content to support personalization and increase speed to market.
  • Invest in technology that can give you a 360-degree view of your customer, incorporating journey management and marketing automation with customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities.

4. Is your organization prepared to adapt to a new culture and ways of working?

Understanding the impact on people is critical for any transformation. To make adoption stick, organizations embarking on change should make it personal to every role, show the bigger picture and use real-time data and feedback to iterate. This approach enables employee buy-in to support and help drive the change throughout the organization.

Take action 
  • Identify skill gaps and operating model adaptation required to drive alignment and adoption, establishing training and upskilling initiatives. 
  • Establish a feedback loop with both employees and customers to get their input. Learn and iterate.
  • Develop a robust business readiness plan with allocated resources to execute new initiatives.

Hims Inc. - Investor relations, accessed January 3, 2023. 
Hims & Hers launches new line of mental wellness supplements, with more options to help support stress, sleep and lack of focus,” (February 7, 2022), accessed January 3, 2023.
Heather Landi. “Amazon scoops up primary care company One Medical in deal valued at $3.9B,” (July 21, 2022), accessed January 3, 2023.
Pfizer launches novel programs to put important support services at the fingertips of cancer patients,” (October 5, 2017), accessed January 3, 2023.
Kite Konnect,, accessed January 3, 2023.
UnitedHealthcare introduces the use of predictive analytics to expand its capabilities to address social determinants of health,”, accessed January 3, 2023.
7 Rana Masud. “Novo Nordisk wins over doctors with AI email subject lines — and a human touch,”, accessed January 3, 2023.
Beth Snyder Bulik. “Biohaven accelerates DTC campaign timing for migraine med Nurtec,” (April 20, 2020), accessed January 3, 2023.
How Biohaven’s Nurtec ODT became a first-of-its-kind launch to cure the common migraine,”, accessed January 3, 2023.

Contact us

Elizabeth Otterman

Principal, Customer Transformation, PwC US

Omar Chane

Principal, PwC US

Jacquie Newland

Director, Customer Transformation, PwC US

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