Big data is revolutionizing the way people conduct business. The digital age has brought layers and layers of traceable information to everyone’s fingertips. The same is true for the life sciences, including when it comes to compliance. End-to-end interactions with health care entities (HCEs) generate volumes of data. In fact, the analytic ecosystem is vast and includes other areas, such as customer relationship management, expense management, and grants management to name a few.
That’s why maximizing the data available to you is of the utmost importance. “Digital is the main reason just over half of the companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000,” has said Pierre Nanterme, chairman and CEO of Accenture. In other words, the big players who exist today may be extinct soon.
Digging Into the World of Big Data
Recently, I, along with MediSpend CEO Michaeline Daboul, hosted the webinar “The Value of Data Analytics in Compliance.” In addition, I hosted a panel discussion “Stepping Up Your Data Analytics Program” at the 12th Annual Forum on Transparency and Aggregate Spend Conference in Washington, D.C. This is the largest and most important gathering of pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device professionals, which allows them to stay up to date with the many enacted and upcoming state, local, federal, and global regulations. The members of the panel were Alexis Wong, executive director of Compliance at Allergan, Ishita Arora, compliance manager at Horizon Pharma, Lauren Hickson, associate director of Compliance Monitoring and Analytics for Allergan and Paul Steele, director of Transparency Reporting for Sunovion Pharmaceuticals.
The purpose of these events was to assess why life science organizations collect data related to compliance and help them recognize what they can do with it. Ultimately, having these types of conversations is the first step to avoiding extinction at the hand of digital analytics.
Executives can’t afford to ignore big data. It allows them to make thoughtful, knowledgeable decisions based on the cold, hard stats. Without the ability to make the most of it, your company could wind up on the ash heap of history.
Where to Find Other Data
Data is no longer limited to the confines of your offices. Today, companies can get information – granted, sometimes in the raw form – from social media, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reports, info shared on other continents, such as Europe, and more.
This is an evolution from the 1990s when most of the data available was merely descriptive or diagnostic. More recently, data has become analytic, prescriptive, and finally intelligent. People change their behavior based on data analysis, and they can interact with the information on conversational platforms and virtual realities that are natural and immersive. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will make the evolution even more dramatic in the coming years.
Get the Data Right
Accuracy is something that concerns compliance officers across the board. After all, incorrect data can set people on the wrong path. “One thing that's important is, before you give the data, validate it,” said Steele at the Forum. “Make sure it's accurate and complete so we don't disseminate anything to anyone unless we're relatively certain of the accuracy of the data.”
What’s Most Important to You?
Because the amount of sheer data available is overwhelming, companies must determine what’s most important to them. They have to put structure around gathering and analyzing the data.
“I think it's finding ways to best prioritize and strategize where you need to have time spent on monitoring, and then how does that roll into feedback to your business, where are there weaknesses, where are there gaps, and then sharing that with the business in a visualization to say, ‘Here's where we can do better.’ So, I think that's the power of analytics in many ways,” said Wong at the Forum panel discussion.
When it comes to risk management, breaking down the data becomes a means of setting priorities. “So, I think the power of the analytics, at least for me, is the ability to visualize and get a sense of, ‘Do I have a bigger issue? And where should I prioritize my time?’ Because you could chase every single field violation, from a penny to more than that,” said Hickson at the Forum.
But with all the data available, people have to figure out where to start. “The biggest thing is right now we're almost in a data overload space, and we don't want to be in a position where we're boiling the ocean,” said Arora at the Forum. “We want to make sure that we're putting together the highest risks, we're focusing on those, and kind of getting the correct stakeholders involved throughout the process.”
How to Make the Most of Compliance Data
To maximize the potential of the data to which companies already have access, you can take the following steps:
- Have conversations with those who are capable of analyzing data. Join in on panel discussions, and figure out what the company already has at its disposal.
- Determine what return you want on this data. Consider compliance data because most companies have year’s worth of information from their transparency reporting. And it can provide much insight.
- Establish basic and impactful goals.
- Bring in global stakeholders and get them to buy into focusing on data analytics for the good of the company.
- Consider the technology that can help you make sense of the data. This should be the final step because people should first know what they are trying to see and do with the information. Then, they can best choose technology that will help them accomplish these goals.
Go With the Flow
The most important step in gaining value from data is being flexible. Businesspeople have to get on board quickly and be open to where the ride takes them.
Don’t assume the way you did things in the past will be the way you do them in the future. Be agile. That will free you to accomplish more.