Similar to other major industries, the pharmaceutical industry is learning how to utilize “Big Data,” the catchall term for the explosion of data and technologies emerging to support it. In healthcare, we’re seeing electronic medical record (EMR) data coming together with genomic and genetic data; financial data; and patient-reported data to deliver insight into which therapies provide the highest overall value to patients and healthcare systems at the lowest cost.

This information will be especially vital under healthcare reform and the upcoming move to accountable care organizations (ACOs). ACOs encourage better patient outcomes by reimbursing healthcare providers based on quality outcomes and measures. Using EMR data and e-prescribing information, physicians and insurance companies can better track patient outcomes over the long-term, a critical element for providers to demonstrate their performance and therefore be properly reimbursed.

Pharmaceutical companies will need to collaborate on this front as well and use this targeted data to improve areas such as drug development, meet the needs of insurers and provide compelling evidence of a drug’s benefits.

#3: Industrialized Data Services

While organizations continue to hunt for new and useful data, they are also looking for opportunities to share it. Enter: data services.

Traditionally, data has been used in silos, but data services helps to find opportunities to use data in many different ways, unlocking far more potential. For example, in R&D, establishing data services enables the use of clinical-trial data in trial simulations, which can yield findings at lower cost and with lower risk.

Data services will also enable R&D organizations to organize data from multiple outlets, including contract research organizations (CROs), academic institution, research lab partners and public health institutes. This allows for creative new solutions and a greater understanding on the efficacy and safety of drugs and devices.

#4: Pharma Gets Social

Over the years, social media has been a highly sensitive area for life sciences companies, which are often bound by strict marketing and FDA regulations.  But some companies are beginning to experiment with the new medium. For example, drug maker Sanofi has emerged as a social media leader by building a Facebook community for diabetes sufferers who connect online to share their experiences with the disease.

“These types of forums can help our clients better understand their customers’ perspectives, experiences and problems, while also providing information on current treatment trends and patterns,” said O’Riordan. “They can improve and focus on the health and wellbeing of the patients they serve, by engaging with customers and providing better customer service through an online presence.”