Sometimes, the cancer treatment journey can be a tug of war. On one side, there’s data; on the other, the people—patients, providers and caregivers—directly affected by it. Both sides are equally important, yet pharmaceutical companies often focus on the data and the patient’s experience gets lost.


Gathering and analyzing data is essential to the success of existing therapies and the creation and development of new ones; however, the inundation of data can overshadow patients, who should be at the epicenter of every decision. Integrating the patient experience with insightful data is necessary to present a clear, holistic story of the patient and their experience as they move through stages of disease and treatment.


How can we tell that story in a way that not only delivers key data but presents a thorough depiction of the patient experience in order to generate empathy and understanding?


A major, multinational pharmaceutical company recently faced this problem. Looking for a way to reconcile an emotionally-driven narrative with a data-driven one for patients with cancer, the organization decided to partner with ZS.

“Integrating the patient experience with insightful data is necessary to present a clear, holistic story of the patient and their journey.”

The challenge

The company was preparing to launch a new therapy in a new space, and needed to fill knowledge gaps: a foundational understanding of the customer, potential opportunities and where best to focus their resources. Immersion in the patient journey was not only key for individual stakeholders—it was an organizational imperative. A new team was onboarded over the course of a year and it was critical that the company ground their learning in a deep understanding of the patient journey from diagnosis through treatment stages.


Diverse stakeholder types needed to derive accurate and actionable insights from the journey in order to make decisions on everything from sales priorities, to customer support programs, to marketing and media budget allocations. Traditional approaches typically opt for a broader view of the journey and can miss deeper, essential nuances. The director of brand marketing and the director of oncology insights knew they needed to take a different approach and find a way to marry two seemingly opposite methods of generating insights. They needed a 360-degree view of the experience, with the patient at the center. 

The solution

ZS reimagined the approach to the patient journey story, creating a flexible framework for stakeholders across markets and transforming the typical research readout into an immersive story.


Using interactive, multisensory narratives with a visual theme of “windows” they were able to convey the feeling of looking in on a patient’s life. The windows expressed the patient’s outlook throughout the journey by using light and dark elements and photography to evoke emotion. More specifically, the solution:

  • Gave the viewer a glimpse into specific moments and milestones, and deeper insight into the impact on the patient, caregivers and providers.
  • Built the flexibility to share the story with data from multiple global markets.
  • Combined data and statistics with individual experiences of cancer treatment.
  • Created an intuitive, accessible format available on all devices through a platform with a friendly UX that can be easily adjusted to include new or updated information.
  • Used the voices of the patient, caregiver and provider to communicate authentic emotion.

The impact

By approaching the patient journey from a new angle, ZS developed a solution that kept the patient front and center without de-emphasizing data. It was a solution that served stakeholders throughout the organization.


The reimagined story approach established a new way for the company to view how a patient moves through the cancer journey, from diagnosis to initiation of therapy and beyond. Weaving together patients’ and care partners’ voices with relevant data provided an educational and holistic picture. By including the perspective of the healthcare provider, the picture provided was multidimensional regardless of the moment in time it portrayed. 


It also:

  • Allowed for a deeper investigation into market-specific data at any point in the journey without losing sight of the common human experience of the disease and treatment stages.
  • Achieved a balance of data and emotion, providing insights to a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Future-proofed the journey with a scalable, flexible solution.