As of 2023, the pharmaceutical industry has boosted its ad spending to 14%, making it the second-largest advertising spender after the tech sector. As pharmaceutical companies are increasingly open to advertising in other digital realms, real-world data (RWD) from patients can help advertisers optimize their marketing budgets by reshaping campaign messaging and targeting more effectively, all while helping increase patient outcomes in the process.
I interviewed Mark Brosso, founder and CEO of healthcare analytics company, PurpleLab whose company’s proprietary data platform, HealthNexus, is one of the biggest medical and pharmaceutical claims databases in the US. In the interview, Mark shares his insights into how the use of RWD in the pharma advertising realm plays a key role in the future of the industry.
Gary Drenik: PurpleLab claims to have one of the biggest medical claims databases in the US. Where does the data for HealthNexus come from? How did you gain access to that data?
Mark Brosso: PurpleLab’s HealthNexus, a no-code analytics platform, is powered by a large medical and pharmaceutical claims database that contains over 50 billion claims transactions dating back to 2012. Our sources include private health insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid patient data, and are regularly updated on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
We currently process 5.5+ billion annual claims from hundreds of diverse data sources, including 2.2 thousand health systems and 5.9 million healthcare providers. This also includes mortality data, data from 1.6 million Healthcare Organizations (HCOs), and 98% coverage across insurers.
We’ve gained access to this data through partnerships and data aggregation that have allowed us to create our own vast, comprehensive database. To build this database in a privacy safe way, we de-identify the data, removing personally identifiable information and performing statistical analysis to ensure the data is not re-identifiable, in line with HIPAA.
Drenik: How does PurpleLab help address the siloed data challenge in the healthcare industry?
Brosso: In a world with increased access to RWD, the biggest challenge for organizations in the life sciences, payers, providers, and advertising spectrum lies in the ability to readily interpret the data. Companies need to work faster and smarter in order to make effective strategic decisions.
The goals of different parts of the healthcare system often dictate distinct needs– insurers will look to understand cost of care and coverage, pharma will look to identify the care pathways their drug development is most aligned to. In all cases, some processing of the claims, which are a financial instrument, into meaningful data will need to occur. By doing the work to make the data readily applicable across use cases, the same material can be applied across verticals and organizations.
Drenik: How do you leverage that data, especially for advertising purposes, without affecting patient privacy?
Brosso: We strictly adhere to rigorous privacy and security standards and hold distinguished certifications, such as HiTrust and SOC 2, validated by organizations that rigorously test data protection methods.
PurpleLab enhances targeted advertising by efficiently engaging qualified consumer audiences while prioritizing patient privacy. We analyze patient data to create modeled audiences without direct patient associations, avoiding privacy concerns. Our focus is on cost-efficient promotion of awareness and new treatments, steering clear of one-to-one targeting that poses privacy risks.
Additionally, we offer solutions for physician engagement through non-personal promotion, utilizing PurpleLab’s claims data to identify relevant physicians for a brand’s needs.
Drenik: How can pharma advertisers use RWD to optimize marketing budgets, reshape campaign messaging, and increase their audience’s quality?
Brosso: RWD presents a significant opportunity for pharmaceutical advertisers. For example, a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey shows up to 85% of the population 18+ considers some form of advertising when opting to purchase a medicine. Although that’s a big opportunity for advertisers, in order to get better value for their investments, they need to make sure that they are targeting the right audience at all times.
RWD should be thought of as an augmentation to traditional market research tools. While survey data, consumer sentiments, and research remain crucial for successful launches and raising awareness of new drug indications, RWD offers a level of precision in understanding the intersection of marketing and healthcare data previously unattainable. Combining these tools together, marketers can identify just how much of the pool of qualified patients use different advertising channels and distribute budgets appropriately.
Integrating RWD enables advertisers not only to customize campaign messaging for specific patient or provider cohorts but also to continually refine targeting through discovery tools for ongoing exploration and optimization. Measurement tools further assist in validating and allocating budgets effectively over time.
This value is maximally useful when leveraged for continuous evaluation of campaign performance based on RWD- traditional assessments trail out, coming sometimes as late as a year after campaigns run, when mistakes have been baked in and the budget is gone. We’ve shined in this area, because of our data interoperability, and the API based integrations we offer for precisely this kind of measurement.
Drenik: How does PurpleLab help pharma companies get a better ROI from their marketing efforts?
Brosso: ROI involves various factors like creative quality, ad visibility, target audience reach, and consumer access to medication. Notably, the recent GLP-1 ad campaigns for drugs like Ozempic & Wegovy show success from a brand standpoint, but RWD reveals significant access issues, from supply chain challenges to high insurance copays.
Acknowledging the complexity of ROI, two key aspects contribute to our approach: cost reduction and quantifiable ROI.
In terms of cost, campaign expenses depend on reaching a critical audience size for effective market impact. Shifting from broad broadcasting to precise segmentation enhances efficiency and boosts ROI by delivering the right message to the right audience.
On the second front, RWD provides insights beyond conventional metrics like clicks. It enables measurement of script volumes and tailored goals, such as acquiring new patients or generating specialist referrals.
Merging advertising and RWD in a privacy-compliant environment empowers clients to evaluate pharma-specific metrics, ensuring a quantified ROI where none existed before.
Drenik: PurpleLab claims it improves patient outcomes through healthcare analytics. How can patients benefit from pharma advertisers doing better targeting in their marketing campaigns?
Brosso: The ability to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from specific drugs and treatments, understand their preferences, and know where they stand in their patient journey, allows advertisers to personalize campaign messaging, and address specific healthcare challenges and geographic considerations, which ultimately improves engagement and treatment adherence rates.
Amongst others, one of the biggest concerns when it comes to the patient is their adherence to a particular drug or treatment, so if by properly targeting a patient segment, we can help increase the adherence rate, we’ll take it as a win because this could lead to a life-saving outcome.
Drenik: Mark, thank you for your time. Learning about the use of real-world data (RWD) for pharmaceutical marketing and how that can help both the industry and the patients has been very insightful and I look forward to seeing more companies considering this approach in their marketing efforts. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more of it in the near future, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for PurpleLab.
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