An Interview with Roche’s Jim Lefevere – Data Management – January 2019

Digital Health Coalition: You said “expert knowledge in data management is required” as patient data collection & utilization rates increase rapidly. Does that require that pharma develop that knowledge internally or would you recommend contracting with an expert to handle the management? In your opinion, what’s the best organizational structure to properly address data management? Who should own it within a pharma co.?


Jim Lefevere: First, I think it is imperative that data management is handled in house. Data is gold and is not something that can or should be outsourced. From a regulatory perspective, it also a risk to outsource. From a structural standpoint, I think it really depends on the organization. Realistically, it could live in a digital transformation area, marketing or IT.

DHC: What’s the risk if it’s mis-managed? You mentioned the consequences are significant – what should make a marketer take personal ownership of ensuring/confirming data is properly managed at their company? In what ways could pharma cos. better equip their teams?

JL: From a global perspective, the EU implemented GDPR, which can have significant financial consequences for an organization and can equal up to 4% of annual sales. That should drive some personal investment. Depending on your role, data, data integrity and taking ownership over master data management goes hand-in-hand with developing effective marketing programs.

DHC: What’s the upside? “Big data” can often feel cumbersome and overwhelming… what are you most passionate about in terms of the impact on the customer experience when data management is done right? What innovation or goal do you think is achievable through proper use of data?

JL: Overall, I think data is the underlying foundation for the development of personalization strategy and personalized marketing program. I consistently hear the question, “why, can’t we do marketing like [insert big name company here] such as Apple, Amazon, Nike, Starbucks, etc. The underlying foundation of doing marketing is data and personalization. So if you really aspire to develop breakthrough marketing then data has to be a part of planning.

DHC: From a bottom line perspective, what does a pharma company that invests in proper data management stand to gain? Is it merely the cost of doing business, or do they realize some competitive advantage?

JL: I think it’s a little of both marketing today is digital marketing and digital marketing is underpinned by data. Companies that do it well will have an advantage and those that place data as an important pillar in their work overall whether it is marketing, services and solutions or other areas of pharma companies today will have an advantage today and in the future.

DHC: What other industries are getting this right today? Is there an example you look to for ideas and inspiration?

JL: I think Finance provides a pretty close corollary to Pharma due to regulations. It seems banks and financial institutions moved and continue to move with a much greater sense of urgency. Now that is not across the board and there are many institutions that I encounter that need improvement, but as a whole pharma and med device have moved at a glacial pace of change by comparison.

For more insights into data and privacy, stay tuned for our January newsletter. You can find Jim Lefevere on LinkedIn here.

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