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Outcomes Data in Brand Messaging: Smart Data for Patient Outcomes

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This is a two-part series on how we, as marketers, need to begin thinking about how proliferating outcomes data can be used in our work. In this piece, we look at where outcomes data comes from and why it’s so important. In its counterpoint, we talk about how outcomes data should begin to be considered for direct-to-consumer (DTC).

In the current marketplace, how often a drug is prescribed, and by whom, is tracked avidly —  practically in real time — by pharmaceutical marketers. But questions remain. Does the patient fill the prescription? Does she take it as prescribed? To what degree does it treat her condition? Do side effects occur? Does she refill? If she doesn’t return to her doctor, is it because the situation has resolved or because she gave up?

These are questions we’ve always asked, and now, data can begin to answer them. Big data starts to become smart — and actionable — data. It allows us to ask more questions, such as: What types of interactions reach patients most effectively? How should our websites look different? How can we support the engagement between a sales rep and a doctor?

Let’s take a closer look at the three types of data that will make these learnings possible.

  • The world of clinical development. Manufacturers analyze in great detail how a compound performs in vitro and in vivo to determine its safety, efficacy and optimal dosage. When a drug is approved by the FDA or another national regulatory body, it’s after years of extensive, quantified study. And, in many cases, post-approval Phase IV trials bolster that study with even more data.
  • Physicians’ review of the real-world results of their prescription choices. Physicians are beginning to record outcomes, in keeping with healthcare reform. While requirements for providers in Stage 3 of Meaningful Use are still being defined, the eventual goals are clear: to improve outcomes for individuals, as well as for the population as a whole.
  • Real-world, patient-provided information. Though people have been manually tracking biometric information for ages, wearables and platforms like HealthKit, Fit and SAMI make it possible for the patient experience to be quantified and recorded to an unprecedented degree.

None of these data streams are wholly new. In the 17th century, Samuel Pepys recorded his meals in his famous diary; clinical data has been around for over a century; and healthcare reform procedures have been in place in many countries for decades. What is new is the data quantity and the utility. We can record types and quantities of data with far more precision, thanks to more and smarter sensors. We can transmit data far more easily, thanks to communication advances. We can understand data more fully than ever before, thanks to complex analytics software.

What can this actionable data do?
We know that successful treatment frequently necessitates more than just the simple introduction of a chemical into the body. Supportive, “beyond the pill” services help the patient understand, feel understood and make optimal choices for self-care. Without these services, it’s harder to diagnose, cure, treat and prevent disease. But some are introduced only because there’s an instinct that it might be helpful, a general feeling that it’s what consumers expect, or a reaction to what pundits say need to be done. Whether or not they will make a tangible difference has been harder to tell.

Until now. Data can provide information that leads brands and marketers to understand the results of an entire treatment protocol, including services and tools introduced throughout the drug’s life cycle. Consider the impact of moving to smart, actionable data, as in these examples:

The data story doesn’t have to end with approval and a few Phase IV trials anymore. We will be able to continually quantify how a medication performs in concert with its supportive services throughout the drug’s life.

These three data streams — from the lab, from the physician and from the patient — will increasingly collaborate to give a real-world picture of not simply the performance of the molecule, but the treatment protocol. Real-world behavior can be unsettling because, by definition, it’s not as controlled as a clinical trial. However, its practical utility will be unmatched. Smart data will tell the story beyond the pill — and, by telling that story, we as marketers can make an entirely new impact on our customers.



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