Pharma brand teams need to reset their patient-journey analysis, says IMS Consulting

August 29, 2014
Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - September/October 2014,

Real-world data sources can provide new dimensions to marketing plans

That there are better and broader data sources available to analyze how products will enter the marketplace, or how existing products can compete effectively, is not news to the pharma industry. But evidence cited by IMS Consulting (New York), the advisory arm of IMS Health, shows that all too many brand teams are still locked into traditional analyses based on physician-panel inputs. The impact of consumer-driven healthcare, and the influence of payer stances on drug availability, are still only hazily being addressed.

That’s the subject of a newly published white paper from IMS Consulting, “A New Foundation for Designing Winning Brand Strategies.” Lead author Maneesh Gupta, senior principal, brand and commercial strategy, says that overall, not only are pharma companies still grappling with the concept of a “patient journey” from initial symptoms through to treatment and maintenance, but that there is a need to combine that journey with the perspectives and impacts of the physician and the payer (aka market access issues). “For a long time, it’s been said that the pharma industry is behind consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers in their approach to the market, and that’s still true today,” he says. “Many brand managers are still basing their initial marketing efforts on the results of a survey of physicians. That no longer works.” Only one out of 10 brand teams have what IMS Health considers the state of the art in analyzing the patient journey, resulting in “sub-optimal brand performance.”

The patient journey (see figure) as a concept has been around for a long time: origination; awareness/presentation; diagnosis/referral; treatment; etc. There is ample information now available from the growing array of datasets pouring out of social media, claims data, longitudinal patient data and other sources to fill in the details of this journey. But, even for the few companies that undertake this analysis, says Gupta, the problem is that the analysis is done piecemeal by different groups: sales, health economics, market access; and others. “Companies are spending more than they should, repeating analyses already done, and not getting the full value of their investigations,” he says.

Key questions

The better approach is to address key questions, and with a coordinated, integrated approach. Among these questions are the following:

  • What is happening at each step of the patient journey?
  • Why are decisions being made along these steps?
  • Figuring out where the manufacturer can add value to the decisionmaking (for example, introducing a copay card)?
  • Measuring progress against objectives along the journey.

IMS Consulting, of course, is positioning itself to provide this guidance, and is banking on the inputs of the newly acquired assets of IMS Health in social media, online campaign development and the yet-to-be-consummated acquisition of Cegedim Relationship Management. But whether a brand team uses IMS Health Consulting as a single-source provider, or as one of several providers, Gupta says that the industry needs to raise the level of its game.

The paper is available at this address: http://www.imsconsultinggroup.com.