“Changes in consumer behavior, many of which were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, are fueling a redesign of the health ecosystem.” This finding was revealed by a recent study of the PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI). The research provided insights about how and why specific groups of consumers used health services during the pandemic – from mental health and telehealth to in-home care and other non-traditional care sites.
The study also captured ‘their willingness to use them again in the future,’ and suggested, those pharma companies that closely monitor these consumer signals and design, accordingly, will likely emerge as more customer centric, as the pandemic wanes.
From this perspective, effective application of data science for creating a unique patient experience by listening to patient voice, is now an imperative for pharma players. Which is why, this approach is nowa key business success ingredient in the changing paradigm. It helps offering a holistic disease treatment solution to patients searching for an effective and affordable disease treatment process.
This article will, therefore, focus on leveraging data science for strategic use of Real-World Evidence (RWE) based on Real World Data (RWD) – on how customer characteristics and behavior impact health outcomes. This initiative is fast becoming a key driver to excel in contemporary pharma business.
Strategic use of RWD/RWE increasing in pharma marketing plans:
RWE, as the name suggests, is the evidence derived from RWD. These are collected outside of clinical trials from various sources, such as, patients and HCP surveys on treatment outcomes, electronic health records wherever available, Wearable Health Devices (WHD), insurance claims, data from connected healthcare records, custom study and many others.
The McKinsey & Company article in this area, published on July 23, 2020, also indicated so. Although, some leading pharma companies have already been using RWE. However, recent progress in digital and advanced analytics allows it to be employed in new ways to deliver impact at scale, the article highlighted. When used by hands-on- professionals of repute in this area, RWE can help pharma marketers understand how patient characteristics and behaviors affect health outcomes.
The research paper on how Biopharmaceutical companies are embedding real-world data and evidence use across the enterprise, published in Deloitte Insights on September 21, 2022, presented an interesting contemporary example. It wrote: ‘During the COVID-19 pandemic, RWD/E played a key role in enabling Biopharma companies to innovate and bring novel vaccines and therapies against this highly contagious disease to market in record time.’id-19,
The approach gained momentum during the Covid-19 pandemic:
The above research study of Deloitte brought out this fact succinctly. It found; unprecedented challenge posed by COVID-19 pandemic prompted several drug companies to leverage RWD/E to innovate faster than ever before. More than half of the companies surveyed by Deloitte used RWD/E to understand the incidence and severity of COVID-19 and its variants for vaccine and drug development.’
The survey found: ‘Many vaccine developers, such as Johnson & Johnson analyzed RWD to predict COVID-19 hotspots across geographies to optimize site selection and collect data from diverse racial and ethnic groups.’ Besides, RWE also played a critical role for these companies in understanding vaccine effectiveness across demographics such as age, gender, race, and ethnicity and determining the need for boosters.
Improves patient experience for business excellence:
A systematic and ongoing tracking and analysis of well-identified RWD, by pharma marketing analytics professionals, can help in-depth understanding of changing pharma customer characteristics and behavior, more precisely. Such initiatives include patients, HCPs, hospitals and even the policy makers. Several drug majors have adopted this practice, immediately after absorbing the initial shock of unprecedented disruptions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Similarly, RWD can help map the exact available space for demand where a brand is being used and potential competitive value-space for its further demand extension – based on real time customer behavior with changing characteristics. To shape customer journeys, such findings may immensely help while strategizing for more targeted content delivery, with sharper segmentation and brand positioning.
Therefore, finding such gaps in various areas of patients’ journey – in their search for an effective and affordable treatment, and appropriately filling these up with brand value delivery is critical. This will help improve patient experience manifold, accelerating business excellence, in tandem.
A recent paper titled, ‘Maximizing your role as a newly appointed real-world evidence leader,’ published by the ZS on March 23, 2022, made similar observations, as above. The study reiterated that patient-generated insights obtained through RWE, are uniquely capable of adding value at different stages of a pharma brand’s life cycle. Or, throughout a patient’s journey on the care pathway of the value delivery system. It concluded: “Carrying out a successful RWE study is a fine balancing act – but its inconveniences and risks are almost certain to be outweighed by the eventual benefits.”
Increasingly used to gain actionable insights to improve patient experience:
In the contemporary market dynamics – driven by changing customer characteristics and behavior, several pharma companies are now effectively combining and analyzing RWD to retrieve RWE. The objective is to gain actionable insights for effective customer engagement for better patient outcomes, to drive business growth. According to a recent podcast by PwC on using data to shape customer journey, the process includes the following:
- Focusing on the value and outcomes of treatment protocols and less about specific products.
- Gaining a better understanding of pharma customers and what drives their behavior.
- Reaching beyond the barrier in driving differentiation amongst competitors.
The Forbes article on the Data Science trend in 2022, published on October 04, 2021, aptly epitomized its relevance in today’s business, including pharma industry. It articulated, data science encompasses the practical application of ideas generated by credible and meaningful data from various relevant sources, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence. Our ability to use such data to our advantage across wide areas in business, would help deliver increasingly worthwhile, valuable, and enjoyable patient experience.
The article also underscored: ‘If data is the oil of the information age and Machine Learning (ML) is the engine, then data science is the digital domain’s equivalent of the laws of physics that cause combustion to occur and pistons to move.’
Thus, I reckon, both intrinsic and extrinsic brand value creation process, driven by its effectiveness, would increasingly call for Real World Evidence (RWE) based on top-quality Real-World Data (RWD). This is increasingly becoming so critical for success – spanning right across, from product development, launch planning with value propositions – to launch and beyond.
The core purpose of leveraging data science in pharma is, as I see it, is effective decision making throughout the brand life cycle, to deliver a unique patient experience in patients’ journey – with better treatment outcomes.
By: Tapan J. Ray
Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.