The Road to Prescription

Customer Research /
Posted on 12th April '18


Mapping customer needs, barriers and opportunities for your brand.

One of the most important considerations when developing a brand or looking for opportunities to grow a brand is to have a clear understanding of customer needs.  So we’ve spent a lot of time looking at how to best identify the wide-ranging and often dynamic needs of multiple customers (and, of course, patients).

There are many techniques we use to uncover customer needs, such as the ‘jobs to be done’ (JTBD) approach*.   But how do we ensure we have identified all of the relevant customers involved?  And that we are asking them about their needs in all of the relevant situations?  This is where we have found great success in using an approach we call the ‘Road to Prescription’.

We know that three of the most important questions to ask in developing a brand are Who? When? and Why?  This is often, and quite rightly, considered through the prescribing lens; Who are the prescribers or prescribing decision-makers and who are the patients? When will the treatment be used and in what circumstances? Why would a treatment be selected over the other options available?  You will have probably been through the process of mapping out a patient journey to help uncover these insights into who, when and why, but does this leave a gap regarding the multitude of decision points and the complex web of influencers which exist in healthcare structures today?  A Road to Prescription goes a step further and considers not only the patient journey, from diagnosis to the point of prescription, but also considers the journey taken by the drug, from the point of regulatory approval to the prescribing decision being made.

This Road to Prescription is likely to be a complicated journey with different routes taken in different countries, or even with multiple routes in the same country.  Along this journey there will no doubt be barriers to prescribing arising from decisions made at all levels, from national payer approvals, to hospital formulary inclusion/exclusion, to individual prescriber brand preferences.  The Road to Prescription uncovers these barriers, or suboptimal practices, and identifies all of the customers involved and asks what are their needs (or jobs to be done)?

When you run such an exercise it becomes clear that customer needs will vary along the route and change over time; a given specialist may influence prescribing at several points (e.g. local access recommendations, guideline & protocol development, advocacy and individual prescribing) and his needs (his jobs to be done) will be different in each of these situations.  It is critical to ensure we get a full picture of the dynamic and changing needs of customers all along the route and we use these insights to uncover potential opportunities to overcome barriers and, as a result, unlock or accelerate brand growth.

This element is often overlooked or left to market access teams to address. This can lead to ‘silo thinking’ within the organisation or potentially viewing those crucial customers without a brand or needs based lens.

However, using such a structured approach to identifying relevant customers and understanding their goals and needs can highlight opportunities that, perhaps, were not obvious at first glance but could have a significant potential impact on brand growth.

Thinking about your brand’s ‘Road to Prescription’: are you clear about the role each of the complex organisations and stakeholders play along the way and their rationale for their decisions?  When considering this I always try to think of key questions such as:

  • What role does each stakeholder play?
  • What is each trying to achieve within the brand’s indication?
  • Why do they employ certain products and services to meet their goals?
  • What do they value most regarding the potential impact on patients, physicians, the population and the overall treatment flow?

If I am not sure of the answers, I know I need to look again.

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