As data and insight pervade the healthcare marketer’s and communicator’s playbook, are we at-the-ready to put it to the test to truly influence critical decision making?

Today, business, specifically in the healthcare sector, is benefiting from a multitude of analytics models to provide logical explanations and clear direction for how to address situations. These models can clarify everything from opinion formation to patient behavior, consumer interest, regulatory movement, sales trajectory, issues acceleration, influence and relevance/reputation, among others. The analysis leads to insights, sometimes surprising ones, which can then translate into strategy, programming and execution.

This system of thinking provides marketing and communications professionals with a platform of stability from which to innovate and experiment by incorporating new thinking utilizing data-based analysis. It’s a means to view the market with clarity and confidence. But the question we must ask ourselves is this: Is all this data and insight actually directing strategy and improving decision-making?

At this stage, the answer is more anecdotal than actual. However, in discussing this very point recently with marketers and communicators at leading organizations at a major industry event, the feedback told me that we have a way to go to maximize all that data can inform – and it is primarily focused on how we interpret, work with and utilize the findings to realize significant advantage.

Following are some interesting perspectives from healthcare leaders as to the reasons that data and insight don’t seem to penetrate decision-making in a manner that sparks confidence and drives advantage:

  • Connectivity – Often, data and insight are not integrated or linked to multiple facets of the process. As such, decision-making can be myopic and does not achieve the level of organizational benefit sought. Particularly from a patient journey standpoint, multiple touch points must be considered.
  • Choice – Decision-making is actually a set of choices, including assessing the alternative set of actions, outcomes and probabilities of situations. Data and insight provide a formal set of points from which to construct a solution. Data and insight are not a substitute for such discipline although they are an integral part of the process.
  • Timing – Depending on when analytics are available, the ability to digest and apply meaning to decision-making is stunted, robbing marketers and communications of valuable time to process the findings. Time is a precious commodity in healthcare, especially as we move from prediction to prevention.
  • Interpretation – As data is shared throughout the enterprise, assumptions and beliefs come into play and can lead to different and possibly contradictory arguments. If harnessed and discussed, this can be very effective. However, if sufficient time is not put into the process, it can result in competing objectives.
  • Inclusion – One area that is overlooked is including an analytics and data expert in the process. This is important for two reasons: focused immersion in the information, and avoiding improper meaning.
  • Measurement – Measuring success must be done at the outset of a program not just following the implementation of the program. Measurement should consider what we are trying to achieve. Is it longer life? life enhancement? education? access? trial improvement?

Rethinking the above to design a way forward to make the most out of data and analytics will lay out a process for more effective decision-making based on solid judgement.

At W2O, our mission is clear – making the world a healthier place through marketing and communications. This means providing data, information and insight that accelerates vitally important decisions in a clear, confident manner to better the future for all involved – in particular, and most importantly, for patients.

It’s about seeing what’s not there. Recently, I attended a talk by a researcher at a major biotechnology company whose advice was simple: look for the outlier because, more often than not, you will find the most important data and discoveries by the finding that was completely unexpected, not by what you were actually looking for.

The better we can all adapt to this data-enriched and technology-orchestrated world, the more effective and successful we will be as healthcare innovators leading our respective organizations and the healthcare industry to bettering health for all mankind.


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