At the intersection of marketing and technology (MarTech) we can create far more effective customer engagement using automated and personalised interactions. At every touchpoint, in real/near-real time, and at scale, these interactions disrupt and increasingly obsolesce our legacy of impersonal and discontinuous mass marketing.



While it may not seem obvious to apply MarTech to solving the unique health issues of an individual, many of the same principles guiding the customer journey can be applied to a patient journey – with a psychological model so similar that almost everything in the MarTech toolkit can be easily applied to healthcare, enabling effective, personalised interventions, and at scale.


In this article I propose that the future of scalable, personalised care can be built on a foundation of psychology-based interventions that ride the MarTech wave.


From customer journey to patient journey

While developing an engagement strategy for a chronic pain brand a few years ago, I was trying to better understand the needs and preferences of key stakeholders (patients, HCPs and PAGs). Though my research went off at many tangents (as is usually the case) I eventually hit the mother lode – a whitepaper by Prochaska and DiClemente from 1983.


The “stages of change” or “trans-theoretical model” the authors proposed is a synthesis of several theories used in counselling and psychotherapy to enable healthier behaviours.


Their theory was that behavioural change is not a single event – it occurs over time, in distinct stages. I was immediately struck by the similarity between stages of change and a standard customer journey – compare the two below:




Note: models here are presented in simplified form, while realistically there are many more levels involved and the processes are more cyclical than linear. For more details read here.


Whether you’re offering a product or service or helping a patient adopt healthier habits, your focus is on driving specific behaviours. These occur in stages, adapting to shifting contexts, needs and preferences, along a continuum. At any one time, only a small percentage of customers are ready to ‘purchase,’ and similarly with patients, only 20% are ready to take ‘action.’ Therefore, your efforts must have initiatives for the other 80% of patients to move them through the stages, enabling and supporting them when needed.


At each stage in both models, understanding of the individual’s mind-set determines the best intervention for a required behaviour. But what is newly relevant from a MarTech perspective is that we can now also plan a personalised health intervention via integrated, data-driven omni-channel journeys, and we can deliver these not just one-to-one, but en masse.


7 ways to apply MarTech to the patient journey

MarTech offers a wide range of methods, applications and platforms at our disposal in the planning and delivery of personalised healthcare:


  1. Service design principles. Focused on desired outcomes for customers (patients), service design principles are applied in the context of business drivers, with a deep dive into customer needs, personas, journeys, etc. through research and within co-creative workshops.
  2. Agile design, development and delivery. These approaches ensure velocity at low risk through iterative prototyping and continuous improvement.
  3. The MarTech toolkit. Technology wise, these include mobile and social (connected health), using AI, algorithms, automation, digital content factories, portals and microsites, cloud-based services, VR, apps and the Internet of Things (IoT).
  4. The marketing cloud. While implementing services like and Signalhub, we can stand on the shoulders of consumer-focused and B2B giants that came before, devising sales and marketing strategies around marketing clouds from the likes of Oracle, Adobe, IBM and SAP.
  5. Human-centred digital ecosystems. These are designed to integrate and exchange data with devices and diagnostic tools, eCRM, HealthTech and ‘quantified self’ apps, eLearning, EHRs, e-commerce, wellness programmes and a multitude of bespoke point solutions.
  6. Managing big data. Insights gained by tracking, measuring, harmonising and analysing various data sources allow for iterative improvements to health campaigns, social marketing and health interventions. Insights delivered across multiple channels, products and services – and between disparate institutions – will vastly improve the customer (patient, HCP, etc.) experience.
  7. Digital security.  Looking to other highly regulated industries (e.g. banking and finance), we can implement best practices in data protection and security, operational models and governance for internal business changes and for maintenance of customer-centricity.


Personalised healthcare is closer than you think

Targeted patient journeys can address a wide range of health matters concerning all matter of organisations, from pharmaceutical companies to governments to hospitals. Whether it’s an ‘around-the-pill’ brand initiative, preventative efforts for epidemics, or addressing the personal, social and economic damage caused by non-adherence to a therapeutic regimen, it difficult to imagine meeting these needs as effectively without MarTech as a foundation.


Across a range of industries, MarTech is already being implemented to bring about cost reductions, increased speed-to-market, added value from new revenue streams, more relevant brand engagement and better customer experience. Healthcare could benefit significantly from these developments, which are sorely needed to lessen the burden on time-poor and under-resourced health providers, and improve outcomes for patients while delivering better business results with measurable ROI.


The beauty of this is that much of the MarTech capability either already exists, or it can be quickly assessed, designed, tested in safe sandbox environments, developed and deployed in rapid and iterative low-risk sprints. This allows for the creation of scalable, personalised health solutions that we previously could not even begin to imagine.


Many healthcare organisations are just a step away from achieving these results. By placing psychology-based programmes for healthier behaviours (e.g. diet and exercise, adherence to therapy, addiction, depression, etc.) within marketing methodologies and operations, underpinned by digital technology and data, we may indeed be creating the perfect storm for personalised healthcare.

Rudy Tambala

Rudy Tambala

Consulting Partner


Rudy has been in digital for twenty years and specialises in strategy and innovation for Healthcare and Life Sciences. Three key areas are audience-centric business strategy, audience engagement, integrated healthcare. Sectors are Pharma, Health services, Wellness, Third sector (Charity, patient advocacy groups/PAGS). He sits on the digital advisory board of Marie Curie.

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