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Avoiding the Hot Seat: Why Life Sciences Consultants Should Interrogate the Data Before Embarking On Engagements


The growth of health data is on a steep trajectory: 30% of the world’s data volume is generated by our industry. And as data volume increases, so does its complexity. That’s why Life Sciences companies frequently turn to consultants adept at gleaning insights and translating them into strategic plans.

For those in consulting, there’s no challenge more exciting. The prospect of delving into troves of data to sift, sort, analyze, and uncover hidden gems of information is invigorating. Presenting findings that enable a client to seize an opportunity that addresses an unmet need or to accelerate a product to market provides a true sense of creating meaningful impact. 

Of course, helping clients succeed is but one possible outcome. If recommendations miss the mark, consultants can find themselves under a microscope as clients question their expertise. 

Take Time To Interrogate the Data
For consulting firms to best serve their clients—and to preserve credibility—it’s crucial to first assess the data before embarking on an engagement. Proceed with extra caution if a client or data source discourages data comparisons or vetting. A thorough approach will enable you to identify and share any gaps that could lead to flawed recommendations.


…or Risk Being Interrogated

Volume of covered lives

Without census-level coverage, projections
can bias recommendations

Demographic representation
(age, gender, etc.)

Lack of balance can lead to faulty assumptions

Race and ethnicity insights

Opaqueness perpetuates disparities in care

Inclusion of payer channels (commercial, Medicare, Medicaid, dual-eligible)

Limited payers or channels can result in skewed inferences

Visibility across sites of care (academic medical centers, ambulatory surgical centers, skilled nursing facilities) 

Site-of-care blindspots limit insights into market trends, referral patterns, and customer prioritization

Breadth of HCPs: MDs including radiologists, pathologists; DOs, PAs, NPs, RNs, PharmDs

Identification of all HCPs is required for targeting, since broad care teams often influence treatment decisions

Ability to track referrals

Lack of network visibility leads to missed opportunities to help clients reach the right specialists

Longitudinal patient history

Multi-year profiles are required to map the complete patient journey

Data lag

Near real-time data is essential to leverage windows of opportunity


Siloed data makes it impossible to obtain a complete view of the patient journey and market landscape

Capture of Rx, Mx, Dx and Px (procedures)

Lack of a holistic view leads to flawed strategies

Distributor blocking

If data is compiled from too few sources  or via limited approaches, there is a high risk that blocking will impact data reliability

Indication-level visibility of drug use

Understanding market penetration is dependent on granular insights

Vetting data up front serves two purposes: First, it empowers clients to collaborate on the path forward with eyes wide open and to evaluate options, whether that is to move forward with the understanding that findings may be biased, to halt the project to avoid going down a dead end, or to choose to find a stronger data foundation for the analysis. Secondly, it enables you to maintain your integrity as a consultant and to set realistic expectations. Most clients will appreciate the candor and diligence, and you’ll build your credibility as a trusted partner.

The Data Is the Difference
Consultants are often reluctant to “make waves” by telling a client their existing data has weaknesses that could impact the ability to deliver a successful strategy. Yet, if the data is biased or incomplete and predicted results don’t materialize, upfront honesty can save you from attempting to re-frame reality on the back end or from losing a relationship altogether. Life Sciences companies are in the business of improving and saving lives, and the data determines what they’re able to achieve. Share your expertise from the outset to support their long-term success and to ensure it’s the data — not you — that’s being interrogated.

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