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The constantly evolving world of data is forcing pharma companies to implement new strategies for improved structure.
Specialty pharma company AMAG Pharmaceuticals (acquired by the Covis Pharma Group in November 2020) faced age-old data management challenges: no single source of truth, data quality issues, and downstream reporting problems. Each of the company’s different functional areas had its own data, says Marc Sloat, who was AMAG’s senior director of commercial operations and is now in the same role at Covis Pharma, “and they leveraged that data to be their gospel.” Consequently, the company was getting inconsistent answers to the same questions, depending on who was asked. While there was a centralized data processing solution, it was a “bit of a black box to us,” adds Sloat, “and we didn’t do a great job at the time of working with our managed service providers to determine quality checks and look at the quality controls.” These and other data problems meant the company wasn’t able to make the timely, data-driven decisions it needed to make.
The company decided to do “an entire data strategy overhaul,” implementing a master data management (MDM) solution, revamping the integrations and interfaces, and moving out to new CRM platforms. It began working with Beghou Consulting and leveraging Beghou’s cloud-based ARMADA data management platform to improve data quality and integration, streamline data stewardship processes, and enhance reporting to facilitate more efficient information-gathering and decision-making across the commercial organization. Kevin Frymire, partner at Beghou, explains, “We migrated over 25 of AMAG’s data sources, 200 or so users, and 15 to 20 business intelligence reports. We built the MDM process to have a unified master model with all this data, which didn’t exist before. ARMADA was able to ingest, process, structure, and model AMAG’s data, and make that data readily available for consumption.”
“It also made sense to move our reporting and analytics over to Beghou,” Sloat comments, “because they proved to be better report builders than we were. They know the underlying structure and model of the data, so they can quickly build out reports, whether they are ad hoc or sustainable.” Covis operates within the respiratory, oncology, and hematology spaces. “We have vast amounts of models for how each of our products are consumed: retail, specialty pharmacy, and account-based.” With Beghou, Covis built a foundational process that is able to ingest data across any of those products, as well as products they will acquire and develop in the future. “The fact that we now have a foundation that allows us to be able to consume from just about any sort of channel really allows us to be ahead of the game and differentiate ourselves,” says Sloat.
Looking across the pharmaceutical industry, Frymire sees several challenges that companies need to address in any similar data strategy overhaul. “One challenge is the continued complexity of data, which has continued to explode and evolve in the industry,” he says. “A lot of folks have had a hard time wrapping their head around getting that data into a unified commercial data warehouse and being able to integrate it and connect it with all of their other data sources.” Also, data in organizations is sometimes very siloed, Frymire adds. “These siloed or standalone data sources are not talking to one another, they’re not connected. So, you have things that are strewn about, without a clear, cohesive data strategy to connect the data together.”
Sloat says, “When we think about data management, I think the five Cs of data—clean, correct, current, consistent, and complete—are just the start. Those are the price-of-admission things.” He adds, “My father was a small business owner and he always said, ‘We don’t expect the business to take care of us; we’re going to take care of the business. Then, in turn, it will take care us.’ That’s the way I believe in data management. We need to take care of our data; structure it so it’s accessible; do quality controls on it; and make sure we’re servicing the right data. In turn, the data will take care of us—our company, our customers, and our patients.”
Julian Upton is Pharm Exec’s European and Online Editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.