What does patient empowerment mean for pharma marketing?

How do you ensure your brand moves forward in parallel with the rise of patient empowerment?


Patient empowerment is all about patients making well-informed decisions about their health that are aligned with their priorities, values and goals. Read our What is patient empowerment? post for extra details. The key tenets of patient empowerment are:

  • Patients cannot be forced to follow a lifestyle dictated by others
  • Preventive medicine requires patient empowerment for it to be effective
  • Patients as consumers have the right to make their own choices and the ability to act on them


Patient empowerment begins with research. Patients now have a broad range of sources for health information and many people consult the internet about their health issues before anyone else. In 2008, 150 million adults in Europe went online for health information, and 70 million went online for pharmaceutical information.


A threat to the classic pharma model?
Maybe. The classic push model, where the product is pushed to the end user through a physician-centric model, will become less effective. One option is to think more push-and-pull, like in consumer goods markets, getting patients to pull brands through the channel, and getting patients to request products or brands from their physician. Another option is to work cooperatively with patients, where we all have one common goal, which is not to get patients to use a certain product, but to improve patient outcomes.


Social media may just be the biggest tool in helping pharmaceutical companies listen to the voice of the patient and engage. Social media engagement is significantly more effective and less artificial than the conventional focus groups that pharmaceutical marketers use. This would also assist the move towards a patient-centric brand, where patients are at the centre.



1. Leading Brands. https://leadingbrands.me/patient-empowerment/. Accessed September 6, 2016.
2. Mack J. The Empowered Patient: what it means for pharma marketers. Pharma Marketing News 2009; 8(4)