Shyft Analytics: Targeted drugs need a data-fueled marketing shift

Specialty and rare disease drug success hinges on patient population adoption. And with the rise of more of those kinds of treatments, Big Pharma has to figure out how to market to smaller and smaller audiences. Traditional marketing strategies for blockbusters won't work for orphan drugs. Mass media might reach an intended target, but at what cost?

One digital sales and marketing solutions company thinks the answer lies in the cloud. Shyft Analytics, which recently changed its name from Trinity Pharma Solutions, uses cloud-based computing--gathering and analyzing data from a wide range of both public and private sources--to help its pharma clients launch specialty treatments.

One of the key advantages is speed. Integrated data and automated analytics can create an almost real-time environment.

Shyft's Brian Irwin

"If we can solve the data silo challenge and work to syndicate data, we can increase the speed it takes from the time data is received to the time decisions are made about the data," said Brian Irwin, VP of strategy at Shyft.

A recent oncology client launching first in the U.S., followed by 27 countries globally, went to market much faster than average with the advantage of aggregated market and competitive data, he said. As soon as the product launched, software alerted the pharma within 12 hours every time a new patient came on board. In marketing, promotional tactics such as coupons or co-pay cards were easily tracked for effectiveness, and quickly changed or tweaked for better results.

Shyft's solutions, categorized as software as a service (SaaS), are catching on in pharma, although--no surprise--it has been slower than the general market adoption rate.

"The Salesforce.coms and Veevas of the world have really blazed a trail around SaaS and around cloud-based solutions," Irwin said. "There's a new understanding that CRM is doing this and seeing cost efficiencies and upticks in performance, so now people are thinking about how to do the same model around data and analytics."

When asked about pharma's mining of social media, Irwin said those data are of definite interest, but he thinks more needs to be understood regarding their ROI value and potential use.

"If I compare social data with the outcomes data we're using, information from electronic medical records and claims, for instance, all in a very de-identified way, (outcomes data) is way more rich. You can know when, where and how a patient got on brand and what was the result," he said. "It's not self-reported, it's physician-reported. All that reads to me as a greater value to the industry than social media data right now."

Shyft's recent name change came as the company was taking into account changes already happening in the market, including the move from traditional pharma volume-based healthcare toward a more patient-centered focus, as well as a move away from expensive proprietary internal data and analytics toward cloud-based solutions. The new name also frees the company to expand its client audience, although pharma will continue as a key focus.

- read Shyft's news here and here