W2O Group rolls up 2 new data agency buys into one health tech business

In W2O Group's ninth acquisition since 2019, it rolls up two data agencies into its newly created health tech business group. (Alpha Stock Images)

Yogurt-eating yogis wearing expensive cross-trainers signal certain information about themselves without saying a word—and those signals may be enough to flag potential fitness pals.

Any more than that requires some digging, and that fact is at the heart of W2O Group's two new acquisitions, Swoop and IPM.ai. Sophisticated pharma data agencies work to extrapolate consumer behavior data—along with de-identified health and drug data and other real-world information—into marketing insights and action.

The two new buys now form the core of W2O's newly debuted heath technology business. The group is rolling the pair into its previous Symplur acquisition and its own internal capabilities.

Swoop works mostly with large pharmas and large direct-to-consumer brands to better understand and segment patient populations, while IPM.ai serves brands with unknown or undiagnosed patient populations—currently about 60% of current drug approvals, Ron Elwell, CEO and co-founder of both Swoop and IPM.ai, said.

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In one example, Swoop worked with a large pharma with a post-heart-attack drug where only 50% of people were getting their prescriptions filled. Swoop built out a demographic and behavioral artificial intelligence profile of people who most likely would take the drug and those who likely would not.

Using offline and personalized data sets around demographics, behavioral and attitudinal attributes and then tying those to anonymized health data, Swoop could predict with a high degree of accuracy who would take the drug. The drugmaker could then skip the people likely to take the drug regardless of marketing or support and focus their 24/7 nurse support service on outreach to people who weren’t likely to fill the prescription without a nudge.

“We don’t care that you eat Greek yogurt specifically, for example, as much as we care that you have a healthy lifestyle versus you’re a frequent fast food consumer,” Elwell said.

One example on the IPM.ai side was through another pharma and its work on a new lupus drug. The pharma was trying to recruit patients for a trial, but finding potential participants was tough because the disease often goes undiagnosed.

IPM collected data and attributes of a small group of diagnosed patients—20 to 30 of them. Then, using machine learning, the agency used those data to predict who was likely to have lupus in a much larger data set of 300 million people.

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The results accurately tagged people who likely had lupus but hadn't been diagnosed, Elwell said. While the patient data were anonymous, IPM could advise particular doctors that they likely had undiagnosed lupus patients and inform them about the trial.

Adam Cossman, W2O group president and managing partner of the new health tech business, said the acquisitions add to the agency’s historical strengths in social and digital audience analytics, rounding them out with real-world offline data.

“If you look at it from a patient-journey analysis, we would say this is what the journey looks like based on all the social media and digital behavioral data we have regarding a specific patient type,” Cossman said. “What’ so powerful about what Swoop and IPM bring to the table is that now we can marry the social and digital data with the claims data and real-world data sets.”

The acquisitions are the ninth in a string of buys for W2O since 2019 as the company continues a merger spree and a growth tear in the double-digit percentages. W2O brought in more than $350 million in 2020 and anticipates a 50% increase for 2021, topping more than $450 million.