The life sciences industry needs to get ready for the next big thing—big data. This is known as data sets that are so huge and complex that it’s hard to store, process, analyze, and retrieve it with traditional database management tools. But in capturing and leveraging this data, health industry marketers can gain a notable competitive advantage in a fast-growing arena.

Where does big data come from?

Big data is not just in electronic medical records and related files. In can also be generated from technologies that allow people and their health care providers to track medical information.

You may have heard of wearable health tracking sensors. For example, you may see more people using mobile devices to track, for instance, blood sugar levels or heart rate figures. That data is then tracked to a physician’s mobile device so he or she has regular records from the patient. Sounds good, right?

It is, and it can change the face of health care so long as the data is accurately captured and used.

Yet one challenge in this field is that an individual’s health information is private and governed by government regulations. This makes the task of capturing, accessing and evaluating the data an added obstacle.

Another source of big data is from augmented reality. This may not be so common in the present, but the concept is being developed at a rapid pace. It will be used in the medical industry by way of offering computer-generated sensory input via sound, video, graphics, or GPS data—this can be used in medical guided therapies and other applications. With augmented reality, information about a user’s real world becomes interactive and can be manipulated.

Those are just types of data created by wearable medical-related devices, such as those that can monitor exercise and eating as well as factors related to other conditions and diseases. Big data can also be monitored by ingestible devices such as the Proteus digital sensor, which tracks patient medications and other health-related data. This can help diabetes patients, for example, track their medication and report information on diet and exercise directly to their physicians.

Big data…meet marketing

In reference to marketing, these devices are breakthroughs—so they will generate a fair amount of attention simply for being groundbreaking. However, marketers can also leverage the data they produce to drive their marketing campaigns.

Yet big data can do more than play a role in marketing campaigns. Big data also includes information from medical records—not just high-tech mobile devices—so managing that can help a company’s overall competitive stance not to mention productivity. In short, big data will assist doctors in tracking patient behavior and medical conditions, and in helping consumers make better overall health care decisions. It can also help marketers promote their products and initiatives, and drive health organizations to bolster productivity.

Why health-related companies need to pay attention to big data

As the concept of big data emerges, companies need to leverage all the power it holds in order to compete. Soon enough, consumers will be choosey about the devices and services they use to monitor their health. Physicians will be able to choose vendors that offer reliable information—and they will want the very best for their patients.

Here are a few benefits of using and leveraging big data:

  • Garner real-time information directly from patients via mobile devices
  • Make data usable at a higher frequency
  • Amass more accurate and transparent information
  • Ability to adjust and improve decision-making based on real-time data
  • Customize products based on customer needs
  • Bolster development of future products
  • Drive awareness of health conditions
  • Improve ability to develop preventive measures to ensure device function

Drive your marketing reach with big data

In order to advance enterprise-marketing capabilities, marketers need to consolidate marketing databases into a single repository so they can take an accurate inventory of data. Additionally, they should use predictive models to further profiling, segmentation and targeting capabilities. Companies can also improve operational efficiency by using an enterprise-wide campaign management system, and drive optimization through standardized key performance indicators.

Big data can be a valuable tool for patients and doctors, as it will help them keep tabs on conditions and practices. But it can also be used by marketers in the pharmaceutical and life sciences fields to better market products and services. In being able to harness and interpret big data, it can show the need for a specific product or service. Numbers can play a pivotal role in order for brands to promote themselves.

Here’s a good example: As part of the Boston Codeathon by athenahealth, 85 participants formed groups to originate an application that converts data into useful information for patients and care providers. The winners created the No Sleep Kills website, where people can obtain information on how poor sleeping patterns can lead to drowsy drivers and auto accidents. The goal was to bring awareness to the link between sleep apnea and vehicle crashes. The team used patient data from a variety of sources to develop the application.

According to an article posted by the American Health Information Management Association, using big data to assess information is pivotal to improving medical outcomes and making health care organizations more efficient.

How is your company leveraging big data to impact its marketing reach?