Big data: helping patients and providers connect

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Mary has been experiencing a worrisome shortness of breath. Before she makes a doctor's appointment, she goes to her laptop to do a quick search of her symptoms.

Smart Pharma Company X wants to do all it can to make it easier for Mary to find answers to her questions and encourage a meaningful dialogue with her physician, while adhering to its strict privacy compliance standards. Thanks to advances in digital data analytics, it has the power to leverage vast amounts of anonymous visit data collected from Mary's use of web search engines.

Smart Pharma Company X knows that informed and demanding patients are now partners in their own health care.

A web-based self-assessment tool that its brand team recently launched collects her click data. The research team collects survey data from Mary after her website visit to evaluate her satisfaction with the experience.

Based on the insights derived from data analysis, the company optimizes brand websites and mobile applications that are truly helpful tools for educating and engaging patients like Mary — so that Smart Pharma Company X can play a part in continually enriching the interactions between patient and doctor.

1. What’s the issue?

Life sciences companies are under increasing pressure to do more with less — and look to digital technologies as a way to transform their entire enterprise. This includes how they improve operations, develop more effective communications, streamline research and development, and lower costs.

Data is coming from websites, email, mobile devices, interactive applications and social media. Advanced analytics go a long way in helping life sciences gather — and analyze — this explosion in data that informs strategic and tactical decision making.

Such insights lead to a better understanding of how to craft content and messaging to both health care practitioners (HCPs) and consumers. It also leads to personalization that delivers this messaging at the right time and to the right place.

2. Why now?

Life sciences companies need the right channels and appropriate messaging to communicate the benefits of their products to HCPs, informed consumers and regulators globally.

In addition, companies need to balance reputation and compliance risk with message quality to position themselves as credible sources of information. This calculation is particularly important in addressing newer audiences, such as health care payers and patient advocacy groups.

At the same time, they face the challenge of incorporating new digital channels to replace or augment the more traditional reliance on broadcast and print media, in-the-field sales teams, conferences, and speaking events. New channels being tested include:

  • Web portals and other technologies that patients, physicians and other stakeholders can access on diseases and/or treatments
  • Social media sites to engage consumers and provide educational medical information
  • Applications to engage HCPs and detail them for product or service promotions
  • Dynamic channel management that integrates content and engagement history across HCP-directed channels to create a seamless experience

3. How does it affect you?

Pharmas have been slow to undertake digital transformation in the areas of marketing and communication compared with other highly regulated industries. They continue to invest millions of dollars in conventional methods such as broadcast, print, direct mail and field sales teams — even though their results appear to be deteriorating over time.

And a greater threat comes in the form of non-traditional players that are evolving rapidly. They could enter the conversation directly to consumers and HCPs through innovative, digital means.

4. What’s the fix?

Pharma investment in the use of digital channels reveals that too little attention has been paid to creating a high-value infrastructure to manage data. This requires:

  • Commitment from executive leadership to support investment into technical platforms
  • Hiring qualified resources to manage and analyze the data
  • A governance framework and training and advocacy programs that promote the integration of digital data insights into new and ongoing digital initiatives

A treasure trove of great data — without the backup of a world class digital analytics system, processes and methods — is often just lost data. In a world where medical records could be worth more than one’s banking details, life sciences companies need to have an analytics strategy that focuses on the use of multichannel methods.

Here are some elements for an effective framework:

EY – Digital analytics  return on investment

  • Executive sponsorship and digital channel governance – Enterprise-wide adoption of digital analytics insights is most successful in organizations that have clearly articulated digital strategies.
  • Process – Successful digital analytics initiatives depend on a set of defined and documented processes that provide consistency and responsiveness.
  • Roles, resources and responsibilities – Organizations must recognize that digital analytics resources are scarce and integrate them at the business unit level to encourage adoption.
  • Digital metrics and analysis – Rather than rely on pre-packaged reporting from analytics platforms, organizations are best served by building metrics driven by the business objectives and goals.
  • Data governance and privacy policies – Life science companies must have policies in place that draw a clear line between deeper understanding of customer behavior for improvement of the customer experience vs real or perceived misuse of personal data.
  • Analytics platforms – The web analytics platform is just one piece of a larger digital analytics technical foundation that needs to capture and unify data from other sources, such as social media, competitive intelligence and purchase data to provide a cohesive view of the multichannel digital customer experience.
  • Training and communications – There are often scenarios where reports are created and not interpreted, or they are interpreted, but the analysis is not shared.

5. What’s the bottom line?

Life sciences need an overarching digital strategy that incorporates patient information, digital data, innovation, testing and accountability through the use of analytics to measure success against targets.

When data is connected across all systems — from pharmas to payers to HCPs to consumers — life science players will become trusted partners in the ever-growing, ever-vital global health care industry.