How to Create Patient Personas That Strengthen Brand Engagement [+Free Patient Personas Template]

How to Create Patient Personas That Strengthen Brand Engagement [+Free Patient Personas Template]

Harnessing the power of patient personas allows healthcare marketers to shift from one-size-fits-all tactics to highly personalized and relevant outreach that resonates deeply with target audiences. These personas offer healthcare organizations a powerful tool for understanding and connecting with target patient audiences through detailed portraits that highlight their unique needs, preferences, and behaviors. They enable marketing campaigns to feel like personalized conversations, deeply engaging patients by tapping into the psychographics and emotions driving their decisions. This approach doesn’t just scratch the surface with traditional demographics; it goes deeper, marking a significant shift in how marketers craft campaigns and maximize impact.

In this blog, Adfire Health delves into the significance of patient personas and how to build them to improve engagement with target patient audiences. Readers can download a free patient personas template to quickly create personas.

Key Takeaways

  • A patient persona is grounded in research but enriched with hypothetical elements to create a detailed target audience profile to offer profound insights based on market research and customer data.
  • A negative patient persona represents a patient audience segment you don’t want to target as a customer to manage marketing resources better.
  • Patient personas enable brands to personalize content and communication strategies to meet different patient groups’ needs and preferences.
  • Build out patient personas by researching the target audience and auditing existing communication tactics.
  • Adfire Health has developed a free patient personas template for healthcare organizations.

What is a Patient Persona?

A patient persona is a research-based, composite profile that provides deeper insights into specific target audience segments, drawing on extensive market research. Patient personas are created by analyzing accurate patient data, behaviors, motivations, preferences, concerns, and needs. These personas help healthcare professionals and organizations better understand and empathize with the diverse patients they serve.

For example, let’s say your brand’s target patient audience specifically enjoys using Instagram and TikTok to follow HCPs and healthcare organizations. Using this insight, your brand can pivot towards investing in more Instagram and TikTok content to target that user demographic. 

What is a Negative Patient Persona?

A negative patient persona1 represents a patient audience segment you don’t want to target as a customer because it represents characteristics or experiences that paint a bleak or undesirable picture of a person’s interactions with the healthcare system. These characteristics and aspects can include communication, access to care, treatment outcomes, and overall satisfaction.

Patients may feel dissatisfied for a myriad of reasons, such as poor communication from their HCPs, limited access to care because of difficulty scheduling appointments, inadequate support services, adverse treatment outcomes, and high healthcare costs. Identifying a negative persona helps brands better manage marketing resources by excluding a specific type of patient who doesn’t fit the target audience profile.

Why You Need Patient Personas in Healthcare

Building patient personas enables brands to personalize content and communication strategies to meet different patient groups’ specific needs and preferences, which can lead to better patient outcomes and overall satisfaction. In turn, companies can expect better engagement rates, a higher marketing ROI, and fewer bounce rates on landing pages. Recent data shows that 56% of companies have generated higher-quality leads using personas.

Well-defined patient personas shed light on specific patients’ distinctive pain points, experiences, expectations, and incentives. By developing patient personas, brands can gain perspective on each type of consumer to enhance empathy and better understand unique patient backgrounds.

For example, let’s say a pharmaceutical company is marketing a medication for patients with diabetes. The marketing team can develop personas representing various types of diabetic patients, such as newly diagnosed individuals, long-term diabetic patients managing complications, or young adults with type 1 diabetes. Each persona would reflect unique challenges, goals, and behaviors related to diabetes management. Understanding these personas allows healthcare providers to tailor educational materials, treatment plans, and support services to effectively meet the specific needs of each diabetic patient group.

How to Create A Patient Persona: A Step-by-Step Guide

Developing patient personas is a valuable exercise for healthcare marketers to understand better and cater to their target patient audience’s distinct needs and preferences.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to build patient personas to tailor and optimize marketing tactics.

1. Research Target Patient Populations

Collect relevant data about your patient population to get a comprehensive view of the target audience(s). This may include demographic information, medical history, behaviors, and communication preferences.

Pertinent information to gather can include:

  • Demographics data (e.g., age, gender, occupation, socioeconomic status, and location)
  • Personal interests and hobbies
  • Associated groups and communities
  • Various communication channels they use
  • Online behavior (i.e., website visits, content downloads, and social media engagement)
  • Medical History (i.e., existing conditions, past treatments, medications, and family medical history)

Now, let’s explore some research pathways for collecting data on patient personas. Data should be collected with explicit consent and in compliance with data protection regulations.

  • Patient Registries: Patient registries collect and store standardized information about patients who share a particular condition or have undergone a specific medical procedure. These registries provide demographic details, medical history, diagnostic criteria, treatment regimens, and outcomes over an extended period.
  • Electronic Health Records Data (EHR): EHRs are data files maintained by HCPs, hospitals, and clinics that contain patients’ medical history, diagnoses, treatments, and outcomes. EHRs facilitate the digital storage and retrieval of health-related data, making it easier to analyze large datasets.
  • Modeled Claims Data: Marketers leverage modeled claims data to construct intricate patient personas using de-identified profiles, uncovering key trends in diagnosis, prescriptions, and procedures. These insights empower healthcare organizations to customize patient care and enhance operational efficiency.
  • Behavioral Data: Harnesses real-time user activity, like search queries, site visits, and purchases, to craft precise patient profiles. Marketers can then target audiences inclined to engage with products based on their interests and online behavior.
  • Patient Claims & Billing Data: Patient claims and billing data refers to any corresponding billing and reimbursement information when patients receive healthcare services. Marketers can gather detailed insights about demographic data, medical procedures, treatments, services, insurance coverage, and healthcare costs.
  • Interviews & Surveys: Utilize multiple-choice and Likert scale questions to collect quantitative insights on demographics such as age, gender, and location. Additionally, delve into patients’ healthcare experiences by exploring their behaviors, preferences, and challenges through carefully crafted interview or survey questions.

2. Determine Preferred Communication Methods

Patient personas can help healthcare professionals tailor their communication with patients regarding tone, language, and the channels used to engage them (e.g., programmatic media, social media, email, etc.). When conducting research, determine the target patient audience’s favored communication channels. It’s also critical to consider the frequency and type of content they prefer to market services successfully.

Researching how an ideal audience prefers to engage can help brands inspect and optimize their communication tactics. Are the proper channels being utilized? What is the current cadence for sending out communications for each channel? What type of content yields the highest engagement? What key brand messages must the target audience connect with (e.g., the specific prescription drug, therapy, or medical device offer)? Answering these questions can help shape your marketing strategy to better suit the target audience’s needs.

3. Build out Patient Personas(s)

Using the collected patient data and market research insights, healthcare organizations can identify trends and commonalities to craft nuanced and specific patient personas. Because buyer personas are intended to represent ideal customers, consider giving each persona a name and visuals to turn them into more tangible reflections of typical members within that group.

Create comprehensive personas for each segment by capturing the typical characteristics of individuals within that group. Important information to detail can include:

  • Demographics: Information such as age, gender, occupation, income, and education level.
  • Health Details: Medical history, current health conditions, and treatment plans.
  • Psychographics: Explore hobbies, interests, lifestyle choices, and attitudes towards health.
  • Communication Preferences: Identify preferred communication channels, frequency, and tone for optimal engagement.
  • Challenges and Goals: Pinpoint the specific health-related challenges and goals unique to each persona for a holistic understanding of their well-being.
  • Specific Phrasing: Incorporate any specific buzzwords, phrasing, and vocabulary the persona will most likely identify with in communications and content.

4. Share Patient Personas With Stakeholders

Share the personas with critical organizational stakeholders—fellow marketing professionals, sales teams, product managers, market research staff, customer service representatives, regulatory and compliance officers, executive leadership, and research and development teams—to solicit their insights and feedback. Engaging these crucial decision-makers in the review process ensures the patient personas are thoroughly validated and refined, enhancing their accuracy and utility.

5. Personalize Marketing Tactics & Content

Integrate the personas into your healthcare strategies: tailor communication, services, and outreach efforts to address each persona’s unique needs and preferences. Moreover, marketing teams should regularly update patient personas to reflect changes in demographics, technology adoption, or healthcare trends. Auditing and optimizing personas will help communication and marketing strategies remain relevant over time.

Build Successful Patient Personas With Adfire Health

By creating detailed patient personas, healthcare marketers gain valuable insights into their target audience segments’ needs, preferences, and challenges. This strategy helps healthcare marketers develop highly targeted marketing campaigns that speak directly to the concerns and interests of specific patient groups. Adfire Health can help your brand craft effective patient personas to improve engagement and overall patient satisfaction. Learn more by speaking to an Adfire Heath representative today.

At Adfire Health, we work with healthcare marketers to create optimized, highly effective, data-based digital engagement strategies. With Thumbprint™, our segmented data ecosystem of over 8.2 million healthcare professionals, we can offer direct access to healthcare professionals nationwide.We bring our years of hands-on experience to every new campaign and work with you to get the best results possible. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for your business.


  1. Needle, F. (2023, December 5). How to create detailed buyer personas for your business [+Free persona template]. HubSpot.

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