Big Data and the Evolution of the Pharma Marketer

Big Data and the Evolution of the Pharma Marketer

By Derek Evans, SVP & Practice Head, Symphony Health Solutions

Derek Evans, SVP & Practice Head, Symphony Health Solutions

The pharmaceutical and life sciences industry is experiencing its own version of Great Flood, but this flood is comprised of a maelstrom of data. Generated by the proliferation of personal medical devices, social media, and electronic medical records, “big data” has the potential to transform the industry but only if companies can translate it into actionable insights. “The challenge lies in harnessing, big healthcare data to create a sustainable competitive advantage.” Many pharma companies are struggling with how to best take advantage of the explosion of information that is suddenly available.

Big data can provide a competitive edge in almost every aspect of commercialization from targeting, to sales force optimization to marketing and payer relationship management. Analysis of real world data can be used to disseminate relevant product information such as drug efficacy and adverse effects as well as provide real-world evidence demanded by payers to prove the efficacy and value of new drugs, or overcome patient hurdles related to compliance and persistence.

Big data analytics equips pharmaceutical companies with information pertaining to individual lifestyle traits of both health care practitioners, as well as, patients which results in significant opportunities for marketers.

Predictive or Advance Analytics

Payer restraints, more complex products and more compact sales forces have sharpened the imperative to “get it right”: the right drug to the right doctor with the right message at the right time for the right patient. However, the traditional pharmaceutical sales and marketing model uses prescription volume data to target high-decile prescribers. For all its past successes, this approach is ill suited to the more flexible business model demanded by today’s marketplace.

In addition, most pharmaceutical companies today are organized in a siloed structure, usually by brand. This silos are designed to optimize individual brand opportunities via complex promotion strategies. These strategies are usually based on a frequency model, one that focuses on driving sales by delivering a high number of promotion touches with little or no coordination across promotional channels. As physicians are increasingly reluctant to take visits from sales representatives and promotional budgets are tightening, this approach is less effective in driving a change in physician behavior.

Predictive modeling helps at all stages of the commercialization process: segmentation, targeting, positioning and messaging through understanding the attitudes, beliefs and value criteria in a specific segment.

The pharmaceutical industry, detouring first through heavy investment in customer relationship management (CRM) systems, has created relatively static data repositories rather than a real-time environment, in which market intelligence constantly informs strategy. Predictive analytics can correlate CRM insights with other datasets and influences, providing something closer to a 360-degree view of doctors and their prescribing habits.

When companies implement processes for using analytics to improve decisions on a continuous basis and track metrics that measure their success, they can drive constant improvement in how they connect with customers. Looking forward, we see this as a way for pharmaceutical manufactures to enhance their reputation in the market by actively engaging the appropriate stakeholder at the right time. Commercial organizations will be able to better understand the relative value of each promotional activity individually and in totality. This will lead to an environment where a continual flow of data will drive better decision making.

Process Improvement

Almost every month there is news about companies who are shrinking their commercial footprint in the face of patent expires or setbacks in commercial development. Yet we continue to see that marketers are making small mix adjustments to sales and marketing spending for the remaining products in their portfolio. However, when examined critically, these reallocations are not producing any substantive change to the selling model itself. Even in the face of difficult financial times, few companies have created a commercial model designed for the evolving market which is focused on maximizing the absolute return on investments of the resources used.

Better analytics, continuous reporting of information and enterprise-wide process improvements can support the areas which have been identified as most needing improvement. These include new methods of distribution, better local marketing and customer engagement, refined targeting strategies which connect the right stakeholder at the right time, and improved understanding of pricing and contracting options and impacts. Delivery of this information via technology enabled dashboards which are updated with a constant stream of information collected in near real-time reduces dependence on human capital for information dissemination and tightens the time from information to action.

"The challenge lies in harnessing, big healthcare data to create a sustainable competitive advantage".

Use of technology has the ability to substantially impact the overall cost structure of the pharmaceutical industry. For example, one of our clients with will realize an eight-figure savings from the automation of over 20,000 annual reports. These reports are consumed on a variety of frequencies across the commercial organization. But cost savings is just one facet of this technology benefit, because this solution ultimately allows for all internal stakeholders to access reports and analytics built upon a fully integrated data environment on a near real-time basis. This access delivers value through more informed and timely decision making by all stakeholders.

People Empowerment

Currently, the pharmaceutical structure is product-centric, resulting in functions that are siloed across the value chain. To shift focus on market stakeholders, information on what drives value for each of them will need to be managed centrally and integrated into business model development, market access and product launch activities. Internal functions must be closely aligned in culture, behavior, management and performance measurement.

Only through a change in cultural mindset and leadership can organizations truly gain competitive differentiation for their brands via unique customer insights, market efficiency which is supported by mining the Big Data landscape.

It would bring dynamism into every facet of the commercial organization.Enabling marketers to take calculated risks, within the well-known constraints of a regulated industry. We have seen first had how these simple changes have turned stagnate, bureaucratic commercial organizations into risk-taking companies. The companies are poised to ensure that they can rapidly communicate appropriate information and take action to ensure better health outcomes as a radical change, but it’s just the kind of change that is needed.

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