Addressing Patient Experience When Organizing for Scale

Who owns the customer data – protecting its integrity and ensuring accessibility when, where, and how it’s needed?

Organizations operating in different markets need to tailor experiences to meet customer needs – a well-known and -accepted fact. Yet, the CX conundrum persists. The solution is multifold, but ownership of customer data is a big piece of that puzzle. If you’re part of the pharma world, the situation outlined below will sound very familiar.

Global pharma companies, organized mainly by region and drug brands, have teams dedicated to improving each of their drug brand’s sales. As a result, customer data is siloed, and each team is unwilling to share for many reasons. The same customer could be buying or engaging with content from multiple drug brands simultaneously, but the respective marketing teams couldn’t possibly know. Each may have a different record of the customer ID and their interactions. Now, the customer has a different experience with every drug brand within the same market – revealing the experience gap. As you cross borders, this gap only grows. And patients are no longer willing to tolerate it.

Organizations must put patient experience first going forward

Experience is the road to success, now and in the future. Patients expect their needs to be their healthcare providers’ (HCPs) highest priority. 

Quoting Arnold Leung, CEO, and Co-founder, Appnovation, “Because of the publicity generated by the launch of COVID-19 vaccines, consumer recognition of pharmaceutical brands has greatly increased. Previously, most patients didn’t know who manufactured the drugs they took. This creates an opportunity for pharma brands to finally connect with their patients in ways that build trust and encourage positive health outcomes. Patient-centric digital engagement strategies are no longer nice-to-haves for pharma companies but a must-have.” 

Insights-driven personalization and consistency are not only crucial but necessary for growth. In our blog, break down silos to organize for scale, we identified that finding the answer to who owns customer data is the first step to finding the operational balance needed to address the CX conundrum.

Applying the centralization prompts

A quick recap of the centralization prompts before applying them to data ownership. As we mentioned in our first blog, deciding whether to centralize any process isn’t easy – there are many moving parts and considerations. The following prompts are designed to provoke critical thinking. 

  • Is centralization mandated by law, or in the case of public companies by external stakeholders?
  • Does it add significant business value? If not, is it part of a larger initiative that does? Assign a tangible value like a 10% increase. 
  • Without adding complexity, can it eliminate bureaucracy or rigidity? 
  • Will it reduce motivation amongst managers and individual contributors?

When tallying the answers to these prompts, you need at least two of the first three questions checked ‘yes’, and the last one marked ‘no’ to vote in favor of centralization. If not, the answer lies elsewhere. We’ll explore this based on two possible scenarios.

Scenario 1: For centralizing data ownership


ownership of customer data


Centralization seems to be the obvious choice with the right parameters marked yes. However, how you approach this will significantly impact the outcome. There are two questions you need to ask yourself next:

  • Who cares the most about the integrity of the data? 
  • How many touchpoints exist between the customer and your teams, both offline and online? 

The best way to find the answer to the first question is who is most impacted by data quality. Assuming that marketing is the appropriate owner of customer data isn’t always right – because data is the backbone of a successful marketing strategy. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any other team within an organization that depends more on data quality. Thinking outside the box is essential here. Simultaneously, you also need to identify all data collection points to create transparency and collaboration between teams. 

This isn’t an undertaking that can be achieved in a few months but is well worth the investment. Our client, a global pharma leader, can attest to this. Faced with the challenge of a broken CX – where their customer in the US had to wait for days (sometimes) to receive the copay cards they applied for – they knew they had to act fast. The leading cause for this was the lack of the right level of automation. But automation is only effective as the data that powers it. To address this, our teams worked with them to build the Data Exchange Hub (DEH) by bringing together reusable modules of an event-based architecture, leveraging Couchbase and Cloudhub. The DEH integrates with Marketo, their new automation platform, to process and deliver copay cards in real-time. With a bit of forethought, we designed the DEH to store customer preferences when collected offline – putting them in the position to engage their audience meaningfully with omni-channel experiences. 

Scenario 2: Against centralizing data ownership

ownership of customer data


ownership of customer data

Both of the above possibilities indicate that centralization isn’t the right path forward for your organization – at the moment. In this case, an ideal middle ground to creating a more consistent and valuable experience would be identifying opportunities to enable communications across drug teams. A tech-forward solution like a real-time dashboard that democratizes data via set permissions is a great starting point. Following that up with incentivizing collaboration based on democratized data will significantly improve motivation.


There isn’t one right answer to the question, but the process applied above will undoubtedly help you make a well-considered decision. However, this is only the first step to addressing the CX conundrum. All teams will need access to the same tools and capabilities for consistency to be achieved. The next blog in this series will address evaluating and building a tech stack that supports organizing at scale. 

Want to learn more about how we help healthcare providers exceed patient expectations? Click here.

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