NEHI puts a price on patients not adhering to treatment. It’s $290 Billion worth of a new problem for the pharmaceuticals industry – getting beyond the pill to influence the behaviours or patients and thereby influence the outcomes on which their reimbursements, and ultimately profitability, depends. Investment in patient access and adherence technology and programs is set to increase exponentially over the next five years, but if this investment is going to pay off, the data strategy to understand what patients are doing (or not doing) and why needs to be clear.

According to IBM, 90% of the worlds’ data has been created in the last 2 years (and I know what you’re thinking, at least 80% of that data is probably a single conversation between 2 teenagers). Thank social media. This immediate, unfiltered data resource is as close to patients as we will ever be able to get. But it’s unstructured, ‘dirty’ data. It doesn’t adhere to terminology or structures which make interrogating that data for insights a challenge.


Put another way, if we generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data every single day, that’s more than enough reasons to be mining this data for patient insights. There are significant wins for pharma beyond carrying out pharmacovigilance within this rich, real-world data tsunami. The burden of disease and their contagion patterns, for example, could be extrapolated provided the data science is taking into account the vocabulary of patients rather than clinicians. Unmet needs or populations which are not achieving positive healthcare outcomes for whatever reason can be identified from the interactions between patients in those populations.

By understanding the real world data and developing evidence to support investments in care pathways which interact meaningfully with patients, we can design adherence programs which will actually work, whether that is making a device easier to use, or educational communications to remove the perceived stigma around certain conditions thereby improving adherence to treatment. Of course, pharma companies looking to move beyond the pill need to operate with codes of practice for communications, and if looking to join the online conversation between patients need to know where and how to take the proverbial lab coat off.

It’s not going to be easy. The patients out there are digitally native and are as Real World Data aware as the pharma companies themselves. But there are at least 2.5 quintillion reasons to be doing this right now.

Written by Kevin A'Court -  Head of Healthcare and Life Science Practice at Consulting Point