How to Use RWD/RWE to Create a Commercial Pharma Market Assessment

Developing, testing and getting approval for a new drug is a tough feat – but only half the battle. Now that your new drug is ready to be commercialized, you have to get it to the right patients, which starts with finding the right physicians. Here’s how this process works – and how to use real world data (RWD) and real world evidence (RWE) to your strategic advantage.

Scientists and pharma companies work diligently for years and years to create treatments that will treat or eliminate different illnesses. Patients all over the world rely on these companies to source the therapies that will increase their quality of life. To get to them, a brand has to deliver a compelling message to the healthcare professional who decides treatment and writes the script.

Physician engagement is a continuously evolving field with declining opportunities for facetime between representatives and doctors, increasing regulatory barriers, and a small population of extremely influential decision makers. In this world, where your share of voice is guaranteed to be limited and opportunities for engagement dwindle, the efficacy of the message has never been more vital.

This is why your job as brand strategist is so important. It’s time to activate campaigns to get your company’s new drug to the right patients. The first crucial step is the market assessment: understanding and analyzing the potential of your new drug. Hyper targeted, cost-effective campaigns start with precise market assessments that define what your brand will see as the maximum possible performance for your efforts – the ceiling of what results you can drive.

What is a Market Assessment?

A market assessment is a comprehensive analysis of competitors, patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) that are connected to your drug’s relevant indications. It may evaluate things like the quantification of patient populations, diagnostics (Dx), procedures (Px), prescriptions (Rx), sales, payer information and more. But generally speaking, a market assessment can be completed in three steps: 

  1. Look at the size of the populations with the indication.
  2. Look at the population taking competitive drugs for that indication and the HCPs that diagnose the disease and prescribe the drug.
  3. Look at the intersection of the first two values, which tells you how many people are taking medication to treat the indication. 

The first requires medical claims data, the second prescription, and the last a combination of the two. You will need to use time-aligned variables here to understand not only the size of the total market but also the rate at which people are being treated and diagnosed. The conversion event (the outcome) only happens when a patient chooses to begin treatment – and a prescription can only occur when a patient receives a relevant diagnosis. 

By nature, this involves in-depth research regarding a diagnosis, relevant existing medication and treatment options, and the distribution of providers. Here’s how this process works.

Creating Commercial Pharma Market Assessments

To create a market assessment, more and more brand strategists are moving towards the use of RWD and RWE. This is because, to truly unlock the data you need for precise physician targeting and segmentation, previous methods are falling short.

In the past, brand strategists would rely on their pharma company’s own research about the size of a target population. When the therapy was in its discovery stage, this research was likely conducted – the therapy is being created because there’s a need, after all.

However, this is still an indirect and possible incomplete or inaccurate source of data, which could render your market assessment inaccurate. When an inaccurate assessment is used to power an entire healthcare campaign, a lot can be left on the table.

To solve for this, strategists then shifted to developing their own market sizing tools. While a step in the right direction – this too is outdated, and doesn’t lend the most precise market assessment.

The Problem with Homemade Market Sizing Tools

To create a homemade market sizing tool from scratch, companies have to buy their own source data and build in-house platform to analyze these groups. However, this is a highly complicated, expensive and time-consuming task requiring data, expertise, and substantial compliance.

Plus, there’s always more data to be bought, which means the in-house tool might not be as complete as it can be.

This is why more and more brand strategists are seeking a new solution – something that helps them truly take advantage of RWD/RWE: a healthcare analytics platform.

The Shift to Healthcare Analytics Platforms

A healthcare analytics platform is a third-party solution that brings together data sources into one central truth, arming pharma companies with clinically versed, real-world data that can produce actionable, real-world evidence across the entire commercial lifecycle – including the market opportunity step.

Not all healthcare analytics platforms are created equal. Some have limited data sources, and most are difficult to use if you’re not a data analyst, requiring advanced understanding of SQL languages.

However, with the right healthcare analytics platform, brand strategists will be able to easily answer questions like:

  • What are the definitions of the disease, the drug and the tests that lead to diagnosis?
  • How many patients are there in the market at any given time?
  • What’s the competitive set of drugs indicated for the drug?
  • How many patients are moving from competitive drugs to the target drug?
  • Where are patients seeking treatment for the condition?
  • Which providers are leading the pack in treatment?
  • What is the size of the set of providers treating the condition?
  • What issues might be blocking patients from accessing the drug? 

A healthcare analytics platform brings all of the necessary data together and provides comprehensive insights and reporting across a wide variety of criteria.

For example, social determinants of health (SDOH) — conditions where people live, learn, and work that deeply impact a wide range of quality-of-life risks and outcomes — substantially characterize patient populations. These characteristics often play a deciding role in whether or not a patient is suitable for a drug or treatment.

When you create a market assessment with healthcare analytics, you can move past the basic identifications of doctors toward true characterization. This data can help you determine which physicians are appropriate to target, so you can craft messages that speak to their concerns and focus ad dollars on the right individuals.


Market assessments are key to successfully bringing a drug or treatment to market. When you can pinpoint the population that would truly benefit from a treatment, you can streamline the campaign process and work towards the common goal of saving or enhancing lives.

If you want to leverage RWD/RWE to create a precise market assessment – that will support strategic decisions and engage patients (DTC) and HCPs – then you need a healthcare analytics platform.

Do you want to connect a specific treatment with the right physicians and patients? Tell HealthNexus powered by PurpleLab about your market and we can send you sample data and detailed reports that will streamline the process.

Need More Information?

Questions? Ready for a demo or free trial of our HealthNexus™ platform? Contact us to get started.