Case Study

Innovative Patient Simulation App to Explore Treatment for Rare Disease

Market Research

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To prepare for the launch of a novel therapy, our client needed to better understand the treatment algorithm for a rare disease condition.

Our mid-size specialty pharmaceutical client needed to understand the treatment algorithm for a rare disease condition in preparation for the launch of their novel therapy. Our market research team developed a unique virtual patient simulation app, InTask, to allow our client to explore critical nuances that helped shape their launch planning and understand how patient presentation interacts with physician beliefs about treatment options to drive physician decision-making.

This software programmed an osteoarthritis patient simulator for iPad, incorporating a range of patient types to probe on potential opportunities for their product across the patient journey. Rich media such as radiographs were included in the simulation to add realism and stimulate deeper discussion.

The InTask Patient Simulation app has three highlights: 

  • It allows the interviewer to employ cognitive interviewing techniques (also known as “think out loud”)
  • It presents the physician respondent with realistic, simulated patient interactions.
  • It helps avoid bias toward rationalizing past actions by creating a forward-looking respondent mindset (with outcomes uncertain, physicians were forced to consider multiple future scenarios).

As a result, our client gained key insights into the complexity underlying a deceptively simple osteoarthritis treatment algorithm. What did they learn? The continuity of treatment is not always sequential or linear as physicians will sometimes interweave treatments and occasionally revisit previously abandoned treatments. For example, patients may use a step-back alternative treatment as a remission of relief before they are provided the primary desired treatment due to the time constraint of the insurance coverage.

These insights helped our client better understand the patient journey and armed them with the knowledge to inform their business strategy and brand promotion.


  • Client requirement was to better understand the treatment algorithm for muscular-skeletal condition in prep for launch
  • The KMK Market Research team developed a unique patient simulation app called InTask to explore the treatment algorithm
  • InTask was used in designing the market research study and conducting the interviews


  • The possibility of better patient simulation gave our client a more nuanced understanding of the complexities around treatment 
  • With a more precise grasp of HCP and patient behavior, our client developed support programs and messaging that was more appropriate to a complex treatment algorithm
  • Better understanding informed launch planning and marketing throughout the product lifecycle

Key Learnings

  • Especially with rare diseases, treatment is seldom linear
  • Prescribing doctors prefer to utilize several treatment options at their disposal at varying points of the patient journey
  • Better study design can help minimize the bias introduced by misunderstood data
  • All patient simulation is not created equal; by designing virtual patient simulation software from the ground up, we were able to offer our client a much more nuanced understanding of why and how their therapy was administered, which led to a successful commercial entry

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