Ed. note: analysis based on assessment of 132 pharma digital assets in the UK, Italy, Spain, France and Germany, including websites, patient portals, apps and social channels. 

When it comes to digital engagement, pharma marketers in Europe have traditionally been physician-focused. Despite the industry’s rallying cry around patient-centricity, regulatory concerns and a reluctance to “change the playbook” at some organizations, have stymied efforts to invest in innovative approaches to patient education, engagement and support.

That’s not to say that the interest in transforming European patient engagement isn’t there – increasingly our clients are asking us to help them understand what their peers inside (and outside) of the industry are doing in these markets, what best practices are and how they can make the case internally.

To answer these needs, our experts analyzed the pharma digital landscape in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy and matched these findings against Manhattan Research studies of how EU5 patients manage their health and what they want from pharma. We’ve published their findings in a report, Best Practices for Patient Digital Engagement in EU5. Here are a few highlights:


  • Digital has become the keystone of patient health management, and it’s driving behavior. Digital media and tools can no longer be ignored by pharma marketers for distributing disease awareness and education and providing supportive resources.
    • Awareness and education: 43% of online EU5 adults attempt to self-diagnose their symptoms or condition with online sources before consulting a doctor.
    • Behavior and discussion: Among patients diagnosed with a chronic condition in the past 12 months, 41% say that online research prompted them to talk to their doctor.
    • Condition support and compliance: 26% of online EU5 patients taking a prescription use digital resources to help them stick to their treatment regimen, and another 37% are interested in doing so.

Source: Cybercitizen Health® EU 2017


  • Pharma digital patient engagement is gaining traction. Compared to when we conducted a similar landscape analysis in 2014, the availability and sophistication of patient digital initiatives in the EU5 has grown appreciably. The demand is there – 48% of EU5 adults either already use or are interested in using pharma digital assets (e.g., websites, social media, apps). In addition, 68% of EU5 physicians agree they are more likely to prescribe a product if the pharmaceutical company that provides the product has better patient support and beyond the pills services.


  • A few key best in class companies and initiatives to watch have emerged. Among the companies and digital initiatives we assessed, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi were ahead of the pack in terms of both the range and sophistication of digital support and education resources provided to the patient community. For example, Novartis provides a well-integrated ecosystem of digital assets for therapy areas such as multiple sclerosis, driving patient support and awareness with their advocacy campaigns. Features range from expert resources, educational videos, healthcare service locators and other resources.



  • Pharma patient initiatives are cropping up in pockets, but aren’t always aligned to patient needs. Substantial white space opportunity areas remain. Patient digital programs and initiatives are primarily piloted at the therapy area or market level (vs. pulled through across regions). In addition, many companies focus narrowly on the same types of education and support features – but leave unanswered key patient needs unaddressed elsewhere in the marketplace. For example, patients express interest in pharma providing updates on new medical developments and research and tools to track health measurements, but precious little in the way of these resources is available. The good news is that there’s ample room for companies to fill these gaps and differentiate.

How can you better support and engage your patients?


Best Practices for Patient Digital Engagement in EU5 helps clients answer questions such as:

  1. Benchmark and evaluate: What is the pharma digital competitive landscape and varying approaches to patient engagement across EU5? What are the pros and cons of each model and how do you compare?
  2. Prioritize and plan: How does consumer behavior/demand and competitor presence/sophistication vary across geography and therapy areas? What are best practices and missteps?
  3. Innovate and differentiate: What are the unmet patient needs and white spaces where you can differentiate?

Contact us to learn more about the report and request sample slides:

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