Quality, well-managed data is key to success

Customer data is the lifeblood of life sciences companies. But are they getting what they need from their data to deliver true customer insight and drive commercial success?

From accurately reporting physician payments to complying with transparency requirements on marketing spend, the need for comprehensive, global data about healthcare professionals (HCPs), healthcare organisations (HCOs), and their affiliates is a top priority for life sciences companies in Europe.

Access to high quality customer data, and integrated systems to maintain that data, are critical to commercial and compliance operations. Yet, our research1 has shown that nearly all (88 per cent) of companies surveyed say that improving customer data is a top priority, and roughly the same number say they are challenged by poor data quality. The problem is compounded by legacy systems that cannot seamlessly update customer records or automate data sharing.

By rethinking how they source, manage, and update HCP and HCO databases, companies are finding new ways to connect with physicians and payers. Before embarking on a journey to transform customer data from a business burden to a commercial advantage, they need to consider the two activities most likely to impact their data’s efficacy: how it is sourced and how it is maintained.

Finding and maintaining high quality customer data

As the saying goes: garbage in, garbage out – or, to put it another way, poor quality inputs will give poor quality outputs. An overwhelming majority (86 per cent) believe sourcing, maintaining, and deriving value from their HCP and HCO data is a significant challenge, according to the survey.

Low quality data is not only a commercial hindrance, but also a compliance risk. Fewer than 28 per cent of respondents report that their current customer data gives them a complete, real-time view of their customers, which is increasingly critical for meeting new European physician payment transparency requirements.

To improve the impact of salesforce engagement and comply with the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Association’s (EFPIA’s) new transparency reporting standards, companies must ensure that they are starting from a base of accurate and complete customer data. In the past, firms patched together a pan-European customer view by compiling data from multiple in-country legacy CRM systems, overlaid by vendor data that was restricted by complex three-party data-access agreements.

Companies need to retire their complex networks of legacy data sources in favour of open customer data providers, which offer access to cross-border partner networks that collect and share updated HCP and HCO data through the cloud.

Putting the right systems in place

Data quality processes and systems are also lagging behind, according to the survey. For instance, just 31 per cent of respondents said their current customer data systems are sufficient for deriving business insight. Likewise, there is a gap in the timeliness of when the data is delivered compared to expectation. Of the respondents, 33 per cent reported that data was delivered in real time or within 24 hours, but 61 per cent said they wanted data delivered in this time frame.

With only 37 per cent of respondents reporting reliable customer data systems to track spend for transparency reporting, European companies are approaching the January 2016 EFPIA payment disclosure deadline at risk of noncompliance. Those that have not implemented streamlined, Europe-wide systems to track and aggregate spend at HCP level will struggle to accurately report their HCP engagement activity, both regionally and locally.

To overcome these systemic barriers, companies need to move on from their in-country legacy CRM systems, which are rarely interoperable and unlikely to be designed for the volume of data sharing required by the new transparency code. They should consider migrating to open, cloud-based, next-generation CRM solutions that allow the merging of customer data across divisions and geographies to build a comprehensive, constantly updated, single customer view. Accessible anywhere around the globe, these open data systems enable companies to deliver compliant, customer-centric communications.

Looking ahead

Companies are seeking new ways to source and manage accurate, timely information about their customers. Next-generation data solutions are an open, easy and global way to get the best possible customer data in order to maintain compliance and grow business.

Consolidating all HCP and HCO data into a single, up-to-date profile across the organisation provides a comprehensive customer view and offers the ability to tailor engagement to deliver more valuable interactions through the channels customers prefer. The result? Differentiated interactions with physicians that build stronger relationships and ultimately help doctors give their patients the information and care they deserve.


1 2015 European Life Sciences Industry Survey on Customer Data

About the author:

Guillaume Roussel is director of strategy for Veeva Systems’ data offerings in Europe. Previously, over the course of 13 years at Cegedim, he launched technology solutions designed to support the sales, marketing and compliance needs of life sciences companies. He also led Cegedim’s compliance business sector across Europe to help organisations address the region’s fast-emerging transparency requirements and created a global marketing strategy for customer data development.

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Customer data is the lifeblood of commercial life sciences