Thanks to digital technology, we’re able to capture, store and analyze information like never before. This is affecting every part of our lives, but especially in healthcare marketing. Data is allowing us to regain, and improve, the clarity and knowledge we once got from in-depth conversations between physicians and sales representatives. It’s allowing us to embrace the endless possibilities of modern marketing.

Once, data could tell us where we’d been. Then real-time status became possible. Now, we can use data to predict where we’ll be. And increasingly, it can guide us toward what we should do. We’re moving from historical, to present, to predictive, to prescriptive.

Two-thirds of major pharmaceutical and life sciences marketers are already using big data. It’s a big deal – but that doesn’t make it a quick win.

Often, our clients don’t even know what data they have, though it’s sometimes incredibly valuable. Seemingly unrelated data points, when synthesized, can help you make better decisions faster and be more confident that what you’re doing is the best choice.

“Data is the new creative” has been a mantra in the industry for years, but using data isn’t just about collecting it – it’s about knowing how to draw actionable conclusions. That can look like many different things.

  • Chatbots can offer education, support, and advice – or triage patients, reducing the burden on overtaxed healthcare professionals – while learning from the interactions.
  • Programmatic media buying allows marketers to reach precise – and previously unreachable – targets. Recently, we used this to slice the estimated cost per new start for a campaign to one-twentieth what it would have been otherwise.
  • We’re applying new techniques to predict a payer’s likelihood to cover or drop a brand. This allows the brand to focus the efforts of their market-access reps, which could result in tens of millions of dollars saved.
  • Geolocation can deliver messages to individuals at exactly the right moment – a physician at a conference booth, a student in a health center, a parent at the pharmacy.
  • Advanced social listening reveals insights that marketers are applying to their entire multichannel ecosystem.
  • Personalized landing pages bring readers from an email to a that’s hyper-customized to them.

Admittedly, there’s hype, so it’s vital to remain practical, critical, ask the right questions and have the right expectations. But marketers from the 1980s and 1990s would be flabbergasted by what we’re capable of knowing today – no guesswork required. Our data scientists, like all good analytics teams, specialize in finding value – uncovering hidden stories and patterns that can be used to create competitive advantage, and do what we all always work toward: improving health.


*This article originally appeared in PM360, and is reprinted with permission.