Real World Data: The Perfect Complement to Primary Market Research

by Tom Haskell | Jul 17, 2017

As patient centricity continues to become more interwoven into the fabric of healthcare, real world evidence is playing an increasingly important role in healthcare decision making.

Kantar Health research has found that real world data is starting to significantly impact the way market research is performed, and this impact will continue to increase as market researchers become even more comfortable with this resource. As more companies mandate the use of real world data instead of more costly approaches such as primary market research (PMR) or chart reviews, I believe real world data will be the perfect complement to PMR.

The best sources of real world data depend tremendously on the intent of the research to be performed. One size does not fit all. For example, if you're looking to understand patient or physician profiles of those users of your product during launch, prescription claims data is best because it's timely and your data contains filled prescriptions. However, if you're looking to understand a true clinical patient journey, health plan data will be the better choice. Finally, if you need to incorporate test results and vitals in your research, electronic health records (EHR) data is the best option.

Value and Limitations

The value of real world data is scale and cost. Of course, you can collect much, if not all, of the data via traditional chart reviews, but you'll be missing the large number of patients that are found in insurance claims or EHR systems. Because of this, studies can be much more comprehensive and get to a more granular level, with more restrictive inclusion and exclusion criteria. This will be a valuable component as “personalized medicine” platforms continue to grow. Further, it shouldn't be overlooked that this can be done very inexpensively compared to PMR.

While real world data has much value, the main limitation of traditional real world evidence is that you get at the “what” of patients’ behavior during their healthcare journey, but not the “why.”  What makes people non-adherent or select the therapies they do?  You will never see that type of information consistently in EHR or claims data.

The "New Wave"

Social media, wearables and connected medical devices are the “new wave” for market research and will play a key role in healthcare decision making.  Although not always quantifiable, they are enriching market research.

Social media can inform a great deal on how and why products are used and their effect on quality of life for patients and caregivers; while wearables can be integrated very nicely with context-sensitive surveys to collect activity, sleep, and vital information, as well as data on how patients are feeling and their daily activities.

Unlocking Value

Real world data offers the most efficient and cost-effective means to collect the “what” about patients at scale. However, that attribute doesn’t diminish the need to compare this data to data about patients’ attitudes on items such as healthcare, quality of life and caregiver burdens, which can only be secured from surveys. The “holy grail” will be to fuse these data together so we can start to see the complete person living with the disease, not just “patient x.”

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