Pharma vs. physician: how data can relieve the headache (part 1)

Kabir Shahani


How to gain better insight into your target audience and achieve a competitive advantage

As a founder of a healthcare software company, I hear leaders across the healthcare industry – from creative services companies to pharma executives – voice the challenges their organizations are struggling with to adapt to the fundamental business model shift. I try to respond with a single message – and one that is not about a monetary investment – but rather about thinking strategically about how to best drive dialogue with HCPs.

“…we’ve seen significant success in HCP marketing by going beyond the tactical components of a campaign…”

Time and again, we’ve seen significant success in HCP marketing by going beyond the tactical components of a campaign (i.e., the time and date of your email blast to physicians) to enhance the message by leveraging insight pulled from places such as previous email campaigns and HCP prescription patterns, creating a message that is sure to resonate. In short, find where the data is or start collecting it now and use it to your advantage to be heard. This data-driven approach enables healthcare marketers to not only create the right messages, but more importantly the ability to deliver the message at the right time, using the right channel.

It’s clear that the industry as a whole is struggling with the best way to combat the limited access reps have to HCPs today. Historically, this in-person communication has been the most effective way to deliver both marketing messaging as well as relevant clinical data. With the limited availability of this channel today, however, marketers across the pharma, device and biotechnology spectrum are clamoring for a way to deliver these messages through other channels and to enable the sales rep to be more effective.

“…find where the data is or start collecting it now and use it to your advantage to be heard.”

The answer is in the data. Healthcare marketers have a wealth of data at their fingertips that they either don’t realize they have or don’t have time to compile in a centralized system. Data from sales force automation systems as well as insight from other sources such as industry, transactional, event and survey data are valuable on their own, but can be game-changing if you can leverage this information together.

Mapping your message with data

Marketers can improve their relationships with HCPs by contacting them at the exact right time with the exact right message. Short of obtaining the ability to read minds, achieving this sort of perfect timing can seem hard to achieve. However, by embracing digital technology, data comprised of physicians’ behaviors, insights and prescription patterns can enable marketers to turn insight into action with the ability to adapt and measure success.

Armed with this data, marketers can update, reference and build campaigns that are easy to reference with the ability to measure the success and adapt quickly. However, when cross-referencing data in this way in order to build successful marketing campaigns, marketers must consider the following in order to be successful:

• Data Integrity: Over and over again, I see the disjointed segments in business teams as a result of inaccurate, outdated and limited data. To be able to craft the right message and program, marketers need to be equipped with access to real-time data in a convenient way.

• Tailored Communication Process: Any healthcare marketer knows that each touch point with an HCP or patient is a step along a journey. The question then becomes, as a marketer, how do you most effectively travel with them along that journey in a meaningful way, given that each individual path is different?

• Measuring Campaign Performance: Once a campaign or series of campaigns are in-market, the optimal way to achieve success is to learn fast and iterate. This requires the ability to have immediate access to real-time reports that are easy to understand and are presented in an action-oriented manner.

The power of these three core components above lead to the biggest benefit of all: Increasing Marketshare.

Marketers that are armed with a physician and consumer database and with the right tools in place can leverage a data-driven approach to serve as an intelligent platform to gain a competitive advantage.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article “ to learn practical advice for giving power to your data and incorporating in part of your marketing message.

Part 2 of this article will be published 18th January 2012

About the author:

Kabir Shahani is the CEO of Appature, Inc. a Seattle-based technology company that provides surprisingly simple cloud-based marketing solutions designed exclusively for healthcare companies. Appature Nexus allows healthcare marketers to quickly gain new customer insights and create programs to deepen brand relationships and drive greater sales growth.

Are you armed with the right data?