Three Takeaways From the 2019 Pharma CX Summit

by William Miranda

In March, my colleague Peter von Bartheld and I attended the 6th annual Pharma CX Summit in Summit, New Jersey. Through a combination of content-driven sessions and group panels, summit goers absorbed new insights about designing and executing seamless customer experiences for patients, payers, and health care providers. A full roster of speakers was scheduled over 2 days, including guests from the Cleveland Clinic, Google, Quest Diagnostics, and Johnson & Johnson. Additionally, a variety of technology vendors presented insights and best practices in deploying solutions across customer segments attended.

After the summit, I took a few days to go through my notes and distill my thoughts about what I learned. The following summarizes 3 major takeaways.

1. Design With Empathy at the Core

We design for digital and in-person portions of a patient’s journey. The moments patients remember most were how they felt about their experience where people engaged with them. Take an extreme example: A doctor tells a patient, “You have cancer.” It’s likely that patient would not hear or absorb anything anyone said after being delivered those words. How do we build an experience around those 3 words? How do we give that patient what he or she needs at that moment; a moment that launches him or her into a journey that could potentially envelop years of life? Designing with empathy is the answer.

Patients simply want to get better or back to their status quo, and we must understand that desire and help build their journey with that goal in mind. To that end, we are using an empathic design approach when we:

  • Strive to understand at which stage the patient is in his or her journey
  • Consider the message and communication style to best fit the moment
  • Focus on designing an experience ecosystem, rather than just a customer experience
  • Balance using the best tactic for the patient need with an understanding of business requirements, systems, processes, and technology

2. Design With the 4 Cares: 
Patients, Caregivers, Community, and Organization

Health care is a complex system, with many moving parts that don’t always integrate or synchronize. A patient, their caregivers, the community, and the very organization that provides care are part of that system, and often the interactions among these groups are unstructured and left to chance. But there is a better way to craft health care to be more inclusive of these individuals and groups.

During a speaker session, Julie Rish, PhD explained how the Cleveland Clinic is an example of this method in action. The clinic has a rich history of partnering with their patients to design a holistic health care system. The clinic staff gather feedback and refine their service touch points to include family and caregivers. The staff pay special attention to collaborating on care and they work hard to build trust among everyone involved. The clinic is also transparent with the community—posting their patient satisfaction scores. As a result of these efforts, the clinic has seen higher patient satisfaction rates and better overall patient outcomes.

Following the Cleveland Clinic’s approach, we can:

  • Involve patients and their families in designing a better system
  • Actively build patient journey maps and refine the service touch points to include family and caregivers
  • Keep the idea of collaborative care top order, and work to build trust among all parties
  • Weave daily staff care with family care for a complete, overarching positive and supportive experience
  • Design technology to cultivate an experience, not the other way around
  • Train staff to deliver education and information in a way patients and family members can understand and accept

3. Enhance Overall Patient Experience Using Voice Technology

Today it’s hard to go a few clicks without landing on an article that expounds the virtues of voice technology as the next interface frontier. The buzz is not unfounded, as voice holds immense potential in changing the way health care services are crafted and delivered. In the context of one speaker’s presentation, consider that currently:

  • 20% of all mobile queries are now made via voice
  • 23% of US physicians report using a voice assistant to search for drug information
  • 66% of physicians are interested in using voice more in their practices

And the next phase of voice skills is already in development. artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms are infusing voice with new capabilities for health care applications. Amazon, Google, and Apple have voice integrations for their respective platforms that can be used to inform health care decisions and improve patient outcomes. From reminders to take medication and schedule checkups, to transcribing physician notes, voice is adding another dimension to care delivery.

In summary, we can enhance the overall patient experience by designing with empathy at the core of the patient journey, by including the patient, their caregivers, the community, and the organization, and leveraging voice as a valuable tool.

For more insights about voice technology, read Martha Maranzani’s recent blog post about voice technology and HIPAA compliance, available here.


If you’d like to find out how Ogilvy Health can add CX value to your organization, please contact Peter von Bartheld, VP, Customer Experience at