The healthcare industry has undergone tremendous reform over the last decade, and the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries have felt the effects of those growing pains too. The U.S. alone holds over 45 percent of the global pharmaceutical market, making it imperative to stay ahead of trends and requirements. Increasing competition, as well as new legislation, has required pharmaceutical companies to take a look at streamlining operations, increasing productivity and making data more readily available.

Developing an efficient Master Data Management (MDM) system is one way companies are meeting this challenge. Industry leaders have responded. One survey reported on by Pharmaceutical Commerce magazine found that "41 percent of large and mid-sized pharmaceutical companies plan to change their content management systems within two years, 65 percent are currently changing their submission planning systems and 73 percent are changing systems used for managing health authority interactions." MDM strategies are at the center of these reformations. Here's how MDM systems are operationalizing pharma.

A Catalyst: Physicians Payments Sunshine Act

As part of the Affordable Care Act, the Physicians Payments Sunshine Act creates transparency regarding the financial relationships between HCP's and pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers. Its intention is to prevent inappropriate financial relationships and to keep patients informed. However, compliance requires accurate data tracking on the part of pharmaceutical and other life science companies. HCP identifications, locations, affiliations, as well as payments and contributions that are considered "transfers of value" must be accurately stored and reported.

Here comes the MDM system to the rescue. While compliance may be a big catalyst to get a pharmaceutical company to look at MDM options, many industry leaders are using the MDM system's capability to store all types of pertinent data, including comprehensive information about clients. For example, MDM systems can store HCP data such as professional affiliations, credit reports, communication preferences and prescribing patterns. MDM systems are becoming the preferred method of tracking customer relationship data and marketing strategies.

What Should a MDM System Do?


Big data is key in almost every industry now. Just to illustrate, researchers at Gartner predict that Internet of Things (IoT) spending will hit $2.5 million per minute by 2021. However, regardless of how much data you collect, it's useless if you can't effectively store and use it. If you have a MDM system already or are thinking of transitioning to one, consider this checklist.

  • Customer Relationship Management: We list this first because it's the critical piece of a MDM system. Gartner researchers explained it this way, "Master data management (MDM) is a critical success factor in constructing optimal customer relationship management (CRM) processes. CRM leaders who avoid MDM will derive erroneous results that annoy customers, resulting in a 25 percent reduction in potential revenue gains." While CRM systems have traditionally been valuable tools, a more integrated approach is needed that will track every interaction with a HCP, including their reaction to marketing strategies, e-commerce and attempts at engagement.
  • Data Quality: Data quality is one of the most important factors in a risk management strategy. Pharmaceutical companies know the importance of checking and rechecking data. Much is invested in regulatory teams, so that errors are not made and the right data goes to health authorities. An effective MDM system will track safety data reconciliation and maintain the reliability of your trails. Having a reliable MDM system ensures the quality of your data and reduces unnecessary liability. In the case of a recall, you can be confident that the data will reveal exactly where each product was distributed, ensuring the right clients are notified promptly.
  • Reduced Cost: Technology has made MDM technology affordable to pharmaceutical companies of any size. Using the cloud for data storage ensures integrity, accessibility and flexibility. As your company grows, your MDM system can easily grow with you.
  • Improved Collaboration: Gartner calls MDM usage a "holistic, multichannel view of the customer's activity." The MDM promotes collaboration not just between departments, but between existing data systems. Sales teams have one central location to get all the data they need to cross-sell or upsell a client, or identify quickly who might be a retention risk. Management teams have real-time financial reports at their fingertips.
  • Optimize Productivity: Data stored in a MDM solution gives a clear picture that helps managers track and forecast sales and inventory needs. Accurate data enables companies to optimize their supply chain and reduce labor costs.
  • Government Compliance. The Sunshine Act is the just the tip of the iceberg for regulatory issues. With the healthcare arena in a constant state of evolution, being able to get accurate data reports are critical. A MDM system can store all regulatory-related data, including standards regarding the environment, taxes, employment, recalls, consumer complaints and protections, and laws governing importing and exporting.

Every touch point with a HCP or HCO generates new data. Sorting and taking advantage of that data is the challenge. Think of MDM as a strategy to store, categorize and analyze all data. In just once place, you can store data about customers, products, financials and whatever else is unique to your company. Computer Weekly calls data a "weapon" that can be used to drive business advantage and give companies a competitive edge. Handling data efficiently means less time is wasted correcting errors, compiling lengthy reports and adjusting to regulatory requirements. Use a MDM approach to develop effective marketing strategies and to give your sales team an advantage.


Learn more about how a cost-effective MDM strategy can revolutionize your business.