The ability to make rapid, informed, data-driven decisions is a key factor in determining the success or failure of any drug launch. The months leading up to and immediately following a specialty launch are an especially crucial period where, despite often having limited data and resources, many of the most impactful decisions are made. While investment in a prescriber, account, and payor master data management (MDM) solution is sometimes overlooked or postponed until after the product is already on the market, the most successful organizations see MDM as a pivotal component to their commercial strategy and implement solutions well in advance of deploying MSL teams, field sales, or marketing campaigns. Industry leaders, regardless of whether they build a system in-house, leverage a third-party master, or leverage a technology solution, follow a few basic principles that ensure the accuracy, relevance, and transparency needed to enable confident decision-making.
- Master All of Your Data – While companies have several good options for mastering customer data, it is crucial to view all data available to the organization (e.g. shipments, CRM, third-party account information, KOL and trial investigators, etc.) as an input into the MDM solution. The benefit of using all data as an input to the master is the ability to collect as much information as possible and then choose the best fit for each attribute, modifying as needed as the organization grows and evolves.
Creating a robust master data solution on its own is important, but only becomes truly useful when all systems are automatically updated with the latest master data to ensure consistency across CRM, reporting systems, ERP, and expense management solutions. These ongoing updates ensure that all decisions (e.g. strategic targeting, account planning, incentive compensation) are predicated on consistent and relevant customer information and instill confidence in the consumers of information, regardless of how they access the data.
- Customize Your MDM – When considering building a master from scratch, it's often helpful to purchase a bulk list of prescribers, accounts, and affiliations from one of the many commercially available data providers. These lists provide a great starting point to customer universe, especially before field- and shipment-level information is available. As more data and systems become available, however, there is an opportunity to be flexible in choosing the best source for each attribute. For example, it makes sense to select state license numbers from a specialized vendor, but it likely makes more sense to take address information from the CRM, collected directly from the field teams to ensure accuracy and avoid incentive compensation headaches. Successful organizations take this a step further by creating a bespoke set of customer master records that considers therapeutic category and drug mechanism of action. For example, the affiliations among hospitals and their associated clinics are critical to understand for appropriately attributing sales or targeting physicians for infused or buy-and-bill products, whereas understanding physician peer networks may be more important for an oral product targeted at a rare disease. The most successful companies manage this challenge by having an MDM strategy that stresses flexibility, allowing users to modify precedence rules, alignments, and attribute values as dictated by the business.
- Have a Stewardship Strategy – Recent advances and investments in technology have led to a marked increase in automation of MDM solutions. While it is tempting to configure the customer master (the entity of golden records created by the MDM solution) and "set it and forget it," doing so often leads to a gradual decline in data quality. With some estimates of hospital transition and turnover approaching 20% annually, data providers have a hard time keeping up. Even with proactive data updates from syndicated data providers, some manual work will always be required to manage rapidly changing data and to keep a master data asset as current as possible. Two situations typically require the bulk of stewardship effort. The first, having incomplete information on a customer, is fairly common, especially close to launch. Specialty prescription and distribution data is often messy and incomplete. While a prescriber's name may be accurate, one generic "bill to address" might be used universally for an entire hospital system. Manual research can augment that information and improve location and affiliations data to better understand the source of business, leading to more informed decision-making.
The second of these use cases is the management and approval of CRM changes. Because sales rep compensation relies heavily on maintaining accurate address and account information, it is important to look at the financial impact of any changes. Planning for these inevitabilities by having a clearly defined stewardship strategy, with strictly defined operating procedures, allows commercial organizations to focus on driving brand value, instead of worrying about compensation calculations and incomplete data.
Of the dozens of decisions made in the period leading up to a drug launch, very few are as important as developing and implementing a robust MDM strategy, which provides a foundation for confident decision-making. Incorporating all available data from all systems and then updating all systems with accurate data ensures consistency across the organization. Once that foundation has been established, rules can then be configured to make the master not only accurate but as relevant as possible for a given therapeutic category, product mechanism of action, and business strategy. Finally, supplementing technology with dedicated stewardship helps prevent degradation in quality and assuages any acute data integrity issues. While commercial organizations employ a wide range of solutions to solve the MDM puzzle, the most successful follow these simple principles and establish an environment where trust in data is foundational to informed decision-making.