How and why to build patient personas

Melissa French
4 min read

Effective patient experiences start and end with data

Companies, including healthcare facilities of all shapes and sizes, are competing more and more on the experience they offer. In fact, by 2020, Gartner has forecasted that 88 percent of companies will be competing on the basis of experience.  


In order to be successful in the healthcare industry shift from volume to value, healthcare facilities need to focus on crafting and sustaining an experience in addition to their products and services that match the needs of their patient population. 

To start crafting a winning experience, the first step is to develop a set of patient personas. 

The insights provided by patient personas help determine what is needed to create an experience that will resonate with the needs of your specific patient population. 

Download the patient persona template bundle

What is a patient persona? 

If you’re reading this and wondering what exactly a “persona” is and why you need to develop one, keep reading — it’s not nearly as intimidating as it may sound.  

Most commonly used by marketers, personas are mini-profiles of a company’s ideal customer or range of ideal customers. 

Individual persona profiles typically include information that helps shape how to market toward them (e.g., what language style or tone to use) and in what ways that message is delivered to the persona (e.g., social media or email). 

In healthcare, the objective and purpose of a patient persona are entirely the same. The only difference is the use of the word “patient” before “persona.”  

Related: Why patient experience matters

How do I Build a patient persona? 

You can get the data needed to develop patient personas a few different ways. When foraging for data sources, it’s always best to use as many collection methods as possible. The more data the patient persona has, the more prescriptive you can be with your outreach. 

Collect data and insights from: 

  • Patient feedback surveys 
  • Engagements on social media 
  • Run a market research study on your patient population
  • Patient verbatims
  • Healthcare provider review sites 

What is included in a patient persona? 

Since the sole purpose of having patient personas is to have insights into a company’s target customer, there is specific information that is considered best practice to include in the persona profile:

  • A fictional name 
  • A fictional picture 
  • Demographics: age, gender, family, location, occupation, education level  
  • Goals and challenges: average health status, common conditions, common health goals, how your facility helps this person achieve their goals and solve their challenges 
  • Values and fears: what the person values, common reasons why this person objects to purchase your service or product
  • Your marketing messaging: (varies based on persona)
  • The main value proposition: what drives this person to choose your facility to solve their challenges

Example of a patient persona

Personas are often packaged as a PDF format or a view-only document and stored in a commonly accessed location organization-wide. 

You can cater the information to gather as it relates to your specific healthcare facility, it’s offerings, etc. This example includes the basics. 

Patient Persona Example | SurveyGizmo Blog

Build your own patient personas

Download the patient persona template bundle

By going through this process for each of your personas, you will better understand who your patients are, what they’re seeking, and what challenges they face. This is vital information that can be used to create that initial connection and develop it over time.

You also may discover that there are things you don’t yet know about your audience, which could trigger a persona-specific research quest. 

Once you’ve completed all of your personas — again, typically three to five is suffice to represent most of your audience — you begin to piece together their values, beliefs, and motivations. 

Knowing this will determine the position you take with your marketing from how it is written to how it is distributed and when.

One important thing to know about when you are creating your set of patient personas is that they will evolve. The process of building personas should be expected to take place once every few years or when you experience changes with your patient’s preferences. 

People’s needs change over time, and your personas should reflect any evolution that the market and the active consumers undergo.  

By developing your patient persona set, you’re one step closer to crafting an experience that is beneficial for both your facility and your patients. 

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