Helping Healthcare Companies to Leverage Data for Strategy Creation

Helping Healthcare Companies to Leverage Data for Strategy Creation

3Rock Senior Consultant Rika Abe provides training and consulting around the use of medical data, and Associate Masahide Azuma supports her as a data analysis specialist. How do they solve their clients’ problems, and how do they see the future of the pharmaceutical industry? Let’s let them tell you through a dialogue between the two…

Big data are full of hints to drive new business

Abe: Pharmaceutical companies purchase various types of data from vendors. For instance, any pharma company can access sales figures for each drug sold by competitors, and use this information to determine the current status of their own products vs. others in a therapeutic area.

Azuma: Another commonly seen report shows the contents of each company’s promotional messages: this comes from a regular survey questionnaire of doctors who have received calls from Medical Reps (MR’s), in order to collect the messages that left a lasting impression with them. For example, for blood pressure medications, the appeal points being emphasized may be target monitoring levels or related disease state information, and one can see the different aspects each company is highlighting.

Abe: What has really been attracting attention in recent years is “real world data”, or information accumulated on actual patients visiting medical institutions. These show details of treatments provided by doctors, including even such details as tests and drug prescriptions. The value of using this data is high, but it is expensive and the sheer volume of data makes it difficult to handle. So even after purchasing it, it is not uncommon for a its actual usage to be quite limited.

Azuma: Open data published by national ministries and agencies is also useful. It is possible to view the data from various angles, such as by age or by prefecture. With this, it is possible to do a certain amount of research while keeping costs down. However, we cannot know the specific names of drugs used, so for that one has to rely on data purchased from vendors.

Abe: Since there is so much data, it is difficult to know what to focus on and how to analyze it, and many companies may not be able to fully utilize it. That’s where we come in.



Services including not only “analysis” of data, but also its application to strategic planning 

Abe: I often ask Azuma-san to compile data for me to use in training and consulting materials. He is always very helpful.

Azuma: In training materials, we blur the actual names and specific figures of pharmaceuticals in consideration of therapeutic areas in which multiple companies participate at the same time. Also, since the original data contains a certain amount of “noise,” we sometimes simplify it for training purposes in order to capture market trends in an easy-to-understand manner. Even in such cases, we take care not to lose the sense of reality.

Abe: The data for training is prepared with an emphasis on ease of understanding. On the other hand, for consulting projects, you and I are always working together to analyze the complex market environment correctly and in an easy-to-understand manner. Based on those materials, I search for and determine the data to be reviewed and propose methods of analysis to the client.

Azuma: What points do you pay attention to when making proposals?

Abe: When we present the results of our analysis, we never tell the client what they should do. Our role is to analyze, visualize the data so that we can gather insights, and organize the facts that can be read from the data. It is the client who makes strategic decisions based on the results of the analysis. We are always conscious of that line. If strategic planning support is needed, we separate it from data analysis.

Azuma: I see. You can’t formulate a correct strategy based on data alone. The process of strategic planning also needs to be taken into account, and this is a point of view that is typical of 3Rock, as we are engaged in both strategic planning and human resources development.



How do you see “people” through the lens of data?

Abe: The first skill required when handling data is, of course, a minimum level of Excel skill. Then, although many people may be surprised at this, the next is logical thinking.

Azuma: Yes, that’s right. The starting point is to correctly understand the issue you want to solve. By logically organizing the elements that make up the problem, you can determine what data to focus on.

Abe: It is the same as the basics of business. From the perspective of human resource development, we sometimes receive requests for training on the subject of logical thinking. Going back to data analysis, what are the key points from a mindset perspective?

Azuma: A mind that does not break even when confronted with huge amounts of data (laughs).

Abe: Certainly, it can be said that people who develop their data analysis skills are those who can continue to deal with data. This is often talked about among those who analyze data.

Azuma: What other points do you think there are?

Abe: I think the key point is interest in “people” such as doctors and patients. If the priority is on sales, the scope of analysis will inevitably be limited. If you overly concerned with sales, the scope of your analysis will be too narrow. If you expand your imagination and want to know, for example, “What happened before that caused the patients’ condition to deteriorate so much,” the data will naturally provide clues.

Azuma: If you can tell the doctor the rationale for why the drug is necessary, you will be more persuasive.

Abe: Reading and understanding the data will definitely broaden your perspective. Through our training and consulting, we have received many comments that our clients have gained new insights, such as “I found a problem in an unexpected place” or “I can understand the situations of both doctors and patient much better than before.” Those are very rewarding moments for me as well. If pharmaceutical companies strive “to contribute more to patients and society”, this will eventually lead to their own profits. These days, such a stance is needed.

人, 屋内, 女性, 立つ が含まれている画像


The ideal MR should be a “partner” to their doctors

Abe: I feel that pharmaceutical companies are being asked more than ever to improve the accuracy of their customer understanding. So far, we have talked about data related to the head office, but MR’s who directly support medical professionals in the field, also need to have a deep knowledge of their customers before interacting with them.

Azuma: For physicians, if all they want is to obtain routine information, they can just search for it themselves and be done with it. To increase the value provided as a pharmaceutical company, it is important to make a firm commitment to solving the problems of the patients they are seeing. To do so, we must help them accurately grasp the current situation surrounding physicians and patients.

Abe: Over the past 10 years or so, drugs that can treat diseases that were previously untreatable have been introduced one after another. Medical advances are accelerating, so even if you are a doctor, it is not easy to keep abreast of all the latest information and constantly update your learning.

Azuma: In order to support physicians who must have a thorough knowledge of all aspects of medicine, MR’s need to have even deeper knowledge than the physicians themselves in the disease area they are in charge of. This will enable them to see potential needs that the doctors themselves are unaware of, which may lead to new business opportunities.

Abe: That is why our training emphasizes that MRs should be “partners” with physicians. The need to be at the level that physicians turn to them for discussion and support. I believe that we are living in such an era. Whether you are working at the headquarters of a pharmaceutical company or in the field, your ability to utilize data is directly linked to the competitiveness of the pharmaceutical company. I hope our services can be of help there.



Rika Abe, Senior Consultant

Before 3Rock, she worked for a foreign pharmaceutical company for 15 years, serving as a medical representative, product manager, and product trainer. With this experience, she is in charge of consulting and training on data utilization at 3Rock. 

Masahide Azuma, Associate

He has worked for a domestic pharmaceutical company for 26 years. He was in charge of post-marketing surveillance, marketing, and data management. At 3Rock, he supports the company’s content infrastructure by leveraging his deep knowledge of data collection and analysis.


Please feel free to contact us for details on our services and seminars.

Inquiry form
Contact Us
Inquiries by phone
Reception hours: 10:00-18:00 on weekdays