Return on Insights – RWE in Action

July 2021
Stephanie Bull

Return on Insights: RWE in Action

The DHC is currently conducting a project to evaluate innovative applications and future opportunities of real-world evidence in the pharmaceutical industry, specifically within sales and marketing. The objective is to collect insights into how organizations are leveraging RWE in actionable ways that can be measured. The project includes numerous interviews with RWE experts within the pharmaceutical space and will conclude with a POV to be released soon, but we wanted to share some early insights in this summary.

Real-world data (claims data, market research, etc.) has been around for decades, and the pharmaceutical industry has been investing in ways to collect, manage, analyze and derive meaning from it for quite a long time. Real-world evidence has been applied most noticeably in areas such as research and development and clinical trials, enabling organizations to have rich insights into patient populations and assisting in drug development. Most organizations have invested in real-world data recognizing the application opportunities of RWE are tremendous. But has the pharma industry underestimated the potential of RWE in other areas such as sales and marketing?



RWE Defined

What are we talking about when we use the term “Real-world Evidence”? Eze Abosi, Head, Real World Evidence Solutions at OptimizeRx defines it as “… insights that you’ve gleaned from the actual data sources, that is what we’re really talking about when we consider the term real-world evidence, really just insights derived from real-world data within the context of the data itself.” So, many organizations have invested heavily on bringing together data sources, leveraging sophisticated technology to apply analytics to derive real-world evidence.

This project largely focuses on the next step or “the last mile” of application. We are asking marketers how they are successfully applying these rich and complex insights to support commercialization and enable the organization to move forward? More specifically what is working and what isn’t?


Untapped Opportunity for RWE

Real-world evidence isn’t a new topic within the sales and marketing department either. We’ve been applying RWE to better align the field force, better engage with HCPs and identify undiagnosed patient populations. The question is how do we close the gap between analytics and execution on insights? In what other ways is RWE relevant in accomplishing sales and marketing objectives? Just some of the value opportunities that RWE offers pharma organizations include:

David Champagne, Ph.D., McKinsey & Company explains how RWE can be leveraged to engage HCPs interactively and aid them in better understanding their own patient populations, “The application of advanced data engineering and data science techniques to real-world datasets with millions of patients can allow pharma companies to extract much more insight from the data in a medically robust and compliant way, with patient-level predictive models. This allows generation of large-scale, multi-dimensional “data cubes” across therapies, endpoints and patient sub-populations, for live exploration with HCPs, who can then look at specific outcome comparisons in important patient sub-populations. This makes for a much more engaging conversation than a static table of data with just a few endpoints that are limited to a fixed population cohort.”

There’s untapped potential with consumers as well. David Champagne says virtual healthcare interventions, such as apps, wearables, and virtual coaching, hold a lot of promise, but typically have limited clinical evidence. “There is an opportunity here for virtual healthcare players to start leveraging real-world datasets to build models that can help validate the link between their interventions and critical physiological endpoints, as well as predict longer-term health outcomes and cost. These can play a critical role in consumer adoption and engagement by helping them understand what interventions are best for them and the impact of these interventions on their health and cost of care.”

Eze Abosi says the conversation in our industry has shifted from the data topic to how we generate evidence from that real-world data and make it actionable, and ideally proven ROI.

“The key service providers that are truly differentiating their approach or their solutions from their competitors today, are those that are leveraging not only historic data assets that fall under RWD but those that are adding value to it by, for example, predictive elements or AI to their offering.” – Eze Abosi


Data and Digital

A recurring word throughout the conversations held so far was collaboration. The potential applications of real-world evidence that are truly innovative and allow for significant progress seem to require collaboration and partnership both within and outside the organization. Some organizations are realizing that siloed departments are significant barriers and are aligning or merging teams such as Data and IT where it makes sense to have shared strategy and objectives. Successful implementation and activation of an organization’s RWE requires building cross-functional teams with the right capabilities.

Likewise, establishing external partnerships with diverse companies that possess the data, tools, technical innovations, resources, expertise, and experience to leverage real-world data and put RWE into action may be one of the most significant opportunities for a sales and marketing teams to derive value from their RWE.

Execution – putting real-world evidence into action – is arguably the most critical step of the entire process. Eze Abosi states, “As pharma … you’re spending all this money on the data, and the services to analyze the data, you must ensure that you can actually reach these physicians that this data is finding. A lot of times, the execution portion is lost in translation, since you may identify 1000 HCP that are high value, but you can only reach 10% of those HCP. If you can’t reach the high value HCP that the data and the analysis are telling you are valuable – there’s a disconnect between your strategy and your actual execution.” 


The Bottom Line

Leveraging real-world evidence and advanced analytics, pharma companies can impact health outcomes, positively impact company growth, and transform from product-focused to patient-focused organizations.
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