Many medical technology companies purchase data annually, only to use it in some perfunctory way, and then dismiss the data before the next purchasing cycle. Historical claims data can have a profound impact on your sales, marketing, operations and reimbursement - so long as this data contains the right level of detail and is licensed to be used across your entire organization. Beyond change-over-time metrics, there are myriad of ways to leverage your data purchase to extract business value.
Elusive big data ROI
We've all heard about the mythical high returns on big data projects in the enterprise, but to this day, many big data projects fall short of any return, much less the predicted ROI. There are many reasons why big data projects don't perform, and we'll address many of these in the coming months. Today, we'll talk about organizational alignment in using data effectively across the enterprise.
When I write about organizational alignment, what I am really talking about is all parts of the organization working together to achieve common goals, sharing resources and helping each other succeed. For medical technology commercialization teams, organizational alignment means sales, marketing and operations working together, using the same source of truth, to drive commercial success for their device; including measuring success appropriately for the organization (beyond units sold, looking at referral pipelines, online metrics and even new physician pipeline to judge success).
Here are a four ways that we've worked with our customers to improve their organizational alignment and leverage of data purchases to move the entire commercialization organization forward.
1. Sales enablement
Sales enablement is providing your sales team, including inside sales, field sales and key account reps, with the tools, know-how, targeting and other solutions to help them sell better. The foundation of sales enablement is to provide your sales staff with what they need to successfully engage the buyer throughout the buying process.
When your company purchases prescription, utilization or any other healthcare data, you should try to ensure that the data comes with permissive licensing so that your can use it beyond your primary use case. Ensure that your data purchase extends your capabilities, so that you can create custom presentations for each key account for your sales team, help your marketing department mine the data to come up with highly-targeted leads and even to help your sales operations team clean up your provider directory.
As you request your data, ensure that the fields you request reflect the primary and secondary goals of your purchase. If you want to clean up the provider directory, ensure you request latest billing addresses, and NPIs or other keys you can use to sync with your existing directory.
Aligning your operational data means that your forecasting, prospecting, marketing and sales activities will all come from the same source of truth, helping the entire commercialization organization drink from the same well, improving not only communication, but the outcomes.
Today, the predominant challenge for most businesses isn’t a lack of data—but choosing which numbers to focus on.
2. Internal data improvement through mining your purchased data
How is your internal data looking? If your company is like the vast majority of MedTech companies, your provider directory is out of date and your sales reps complain about using Salesforce.com to fix it. They've got a point. You're paying them to sell, not for data entry.
Luckily, your already-purchased data can be useful in fixing your provider directory and your ERP. Ensure that your vendor has a process in place to clean up physician and organization / practice addresses. This is a time-intensive and technically challenging effort that best-of-breed healthcare analytics vendors do as a matter of course -- and one that you will surely want to leverage as you begin your data cleansing efforts.
One of our customers, a major cardiovascular device manufacturer, was able to achieve a 99.2% match rate on their Salesforce.com data, and now have a process in place to keep their provider data current.
3. Engaging meaningfully with stakeholders through marketing to sales hand-off
You have a great product, and its clinical capabilities are clear. You bought data to help you learn about the right physicians to contact, based on their utilization, the types of patients they treat, and how they care for their patients. For most of us, this work is done by a handful of people inside the sales operations or marketing organization. But the value of the work should resonate throughout the entire commercialization team. Except it rarely does. Why?
Scaling a commercial execution strategy from an executive presentation to an entire team aligned on a core set of goals is as much a psychological challenge as it is an organizational one. Taking your analytics out of the ivory tower and equipping your sales team with actionable, useful and impactful sales tools that will aide them in their activities takes an entirely different set of skills and tools than the tools needed to do the analysis in the first place.
Typically, on the order of 65% of marketing content is never used by the sales team. Which means that 2/3 of the investment in this marketing content is wasted—the ROI on content that never gets used is zero.
The top organizations who succeed in growing their sales organizations focus on the hand-off between marketing and sales. What good is content if it's never used? Your marketing content should be personalized, contextual and meaningful in driving the RIGHT sales conversations. If your content is a generic brochure or product details, you're missing entirely the hook through which your sales team can get more meaningful interactions.
Our customers report that customized collateral for each prospect and target has yielded more, better conversations, and has helped them tell a more compelling story, resulting in more wins.
4. Merging multiple data sources together to surface insights
One of the biggest opportunities, and challenges, in purchasing healthcare data is merging it with other data sources to create a more comprehensive picture of the healthcare system, specifically around the utilization of treatments in your disease states.
The opportunity is obvious! What if you could take a great claims dataset, merge it with the newest physician address data, then merge it with physician affiliation linking and get a completely accurate view of the various entry-points into the thousands of hospitals and healthcare systems in the US.
Therein lies the challenge. First, these datasets are often keyed with different IDs, or sometimes with no IDs at all. Address and affiliation datasets change as practices are bought and sold, physicians move and hospitals change ownership. How do you keep on top of all of these changes, and just as importantly, how do you deliver these changes to your sales team?
Ensure, when you buy data that the discrete providers and organizations are keyed in an industry standard way -- NPIs or even CMS Provider Numbers. Ensure that your claims data contains not only the institution where a service was performed, but also the physicians who performed the service. Demand that the data you get shows all the affiliations for a given physician, and how those have changed over time. And most importantly, demand that this data is updated with each purchase.
As you can see, there are a lot of details to consider when thinking about a data purchase. Don't let an expensive asset become an anchor around your neck. Consider a data vendor that not only has the data you seek, but also a platform to deliver these capabilities to you in one package. The days of emailed CSVs are numbered. Demand more comprehensive approaches to healthcare analytics from your vendors that go beyond raw data and help you scale your marketing, sales and operations strategy to your entire organization.