Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Color Me Skeptical Here -- Is It THAT Valuable To Pharma? Or, Will It (Further) Alienate The Doctors?

Okay -- first, Zephyr Health may well be on to a bleeding edge big data trend here -- and, I'll allow that if it can truly streamline a doctor's day -- and only match valuable introductions, on both sides, there is a quite-viable business model, here. But if (on the other hand) the "info-mercial" like tone of the below article is what the sales pitch is really like . . .well, you've been warned.

Having helped many a busy doctor, across many practices -- as their lawyer, for many years -- I suspect that the best and brightest will find this level of automated data mining. . . off-putting, at best. I note that the company doesn't have an internal general counsel, but has over one hundred employees, actively aggregating (what they claim is) real time health care provider-level data. That's. . . courageous. I am all for data-based decision making, but the idea that the pharma rep comes armed with all the data from your last ten visits, and prescribing patterns, from this very morning. . . well, that is troubling -- I think. But maybe I'm just old-school, here. Read the below snippet -- or the whole Bloomberg article, and pipe up, in comments: Does this rub you the wrong way? Do let me know.

. . . .Tracking ‘Valuable’ Doctors for Big Pharma. . . .

Pharmaceutical companies are now searching for ways to. . . target the doctors most compatible with the medications they’re pitching. "You’re desperate for data to make those key decisions," says Lance Scott, a former marketing manager at medical-device maker Abbott Laboratories. "But while there’s lots of data out there, it’s really challenging to bring it together." Scott’s now chief executive officer of Zephyr Health, a data analytics startup promising to help drugmakers identify key medical personnel and find ways to approach them.

Zephyr builds digital dossiers on individual doctors. It starts with basic information on prescription patterns from data clearinghouses such as IMS Health and Symphony Health Solutions. Then its software, with some human assistance, scours the Web for more details. For example, a calendar of speakers scheduled for a prominent medical conference may point to a specialist well-regarded by her peers. Steady publication by another doctor in scientific journals offers clues to the kind of research he does. A physician who’s a board member of an industry association might have a hand in writing treatment guidelines — and thus be the focus of a drug company’s outreach. . . .

Scott says Zephyr updates its physician profiles in near-real time, a serious advantage over hand-culled databases. His 100-employee team is working to refine the software’s predictive capabilities and add more data on which patients take what drugs. "There’s nothing private anymore. . ."

I completely understand why most life-sciences companies declined to be identified as clients of the service Zephyr Health offers. The opinion leader docs might well frown on it.

Gooodnight, one and all -- and sleep tight! -- I'm out.

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