Getting Wired for a World of Individuals
Four converging forces--consumer activism, advances in information management, improved medical technology, and scientific progress--will transform health care and put individual patient-consumers at the heart of the process. Any pharmaceutical company that wants to serve this new market will need to collect personal data from millions of people, and use the information it already owns more effectively, in order to produce better and more economical drugs.Building an electronic infrastructure that will enable a pharmaceutical company to do these things is a major challenge because of the variety of sources, multiplicity of formats, and complexity of the data Pharma must handle. But the emerging e-business technologies--including the Internet, new data warehousing tools, and increasingly sophisticated management systems--will provide a solution to many of these problems. And some industry leaders are already exploring their potential.
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Empowered consumers are playing a more proactive role in almost all treatment decisions. For consumer-driven and lifestyle drugs, a fast-growing portion of pharma's portfolio, marketers still focus on physician detailing but must resist the temptation to rely only on physicians to interpret consumers' needs. Consumers have their own approach to evaluating the risks and rewards of a lifestyle-oriented drug. The fact that it outperforms placebo in clinical trials matters little: they expect it to be significantly better, and without unpleasant side effects. Companies must weigh these expectations early in the development process. Adjusting the paradigm where the physician is king is a major challenge. The perception that traditional detailing efforts generate the dollars, while consumer marketing only spends them, remains hard to change.
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