Big Data, Huge Opportunity
Insights derived from big data are transforming the healthcare landscape, offering marketers a high-definition view of the patient and customer
Marketers have always relied on data to inform their campaigns. Whether market research, internal CRM or any other source, the foundation of any marketing initiative should be high-quality, insightful data into the customer’s wants and needs, behavior and attitudes.
However, since data got ‘big’, the possibilities (and challenges) have exploded – after all, big data didn’t get its name for nothing. As the entire industry continues to meet the challenge of extracting insight from the exponentially growing mountain of data, is pharmaceutical marketing finally becoming truly scientific?
For Hervé Dumas, Patient Care Solutions Lead Director at UCB, big data is about providing better solutions. The first step at UCB is to validate initial assumptions using data, then to adapt individual patient therapy over time for "more personalization and prediction of drug outcomes". The key is to “close the loop by trying to identify how patients are actually experiencing or living with their disease and therapy."
Patients expect drugs to work for them and better data is essential to provide a better patient experience, says Lanre Ibitoye, Head of Digital Experience at Teva. "The patient's experience and expectation are critically linked to the future success of all of our businesses and this is something we absolutely have to stay on top of."
"The more we start digging into the life of the patient the more information we get, for example, on quality or quantity of sleep,” says Dumas. However, the more data, the more regulatory issues. “When are we required to report something as an adverse event?" he asks. “This is an important question.” The sales force must be equipped to handle the reporting of adverse events, he adds.
How sales forces harness big data to adapt their approach to customers more generally is rapidly becoming business critical, says Ibitoye. “The way teams are organized internally must reflect a new relationship with data to take advantage of this scientific approach.”
Now, sales reps look at customer data to see who they should visit next to meet their sales quota but mining big data allows for a more sophisticated analysis. Yet, reps need much more training to exploit the opportunities, he says.
Implementing big data should be intuitive and actionable for the sales force, says Betul Susamis Unaran, Global Head of Digital at Ferring Pharmaceuticals. “Instead of adding to the number of tools, we need quality tools and and insights to optimize the channel mix and provide the right content and services at the right time through the preferred channels,” she says, adding that it is vital the sales force feels enabled rather than monitored while out in the field.
The need for change is constant when it comes to the fast-moving world of data, says Teva’s Ibitoye who sees one solution as greater use of external partnerships. Ferring’s Unaran agrees, saying that "most valuable solutions lie in bigger data sets and analytics leading to personalization and better healthcare outcomes. We should be looking for partnerships with start-ups who have access to big data and relevant analytics and cognitive computing skills." Partnerships and pilot programs are essential to provide a fuller picture.
A more scientific approach to marketing is not only possible, it is essential, says Teva’s Ibitoye. Yet, it will require a change in attitude within marketing departments. "Experiments in pharma marketing are not done enough in a structured way. We must get better at this."
The greatest gains from taking a more scientific approach to marketing is to predict the response of treatment, says Dumas, especially in how companies combine clinical trial and real-world data. Factors as simple as how and when a patient takes a drug can have a huge impact on treatment outcomes and only big data can provide the required detail on such minutia.
"The only question we have to ask is, how reliable is this data?, he says. “Do we need to have clinical-trial-like data all the time?" He doesn't think so, as there is a danger that data sets get so large they become unmanageable. Yet, mastering this new layer of data – where information can be captured and incorporated into the patient's treatment protocol and the protocol for future drug development – would offer huge advantages.
Hervé Dumas and Betal Susamis Unaran will be speaking at our Marketing and Customer Innovation Europe 2017 event in November.
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