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CW Innovation Awards: Zuellig Pharma dispenses healthcare insights with data platform

The regional pharmaceutical giant’s business intelligence-as-a-service offering is touted to plug data gaps and has helped one pharmaceutical client improve customer loyalty

When Zuellig Pharma saw the lack of advanced analytics and trusted data platforms in the healthcare sector, it built an offering it believes can plug the gaps and help pharmaceutical companies enhance customer engagement.

Called business intelligence as a service (BIaaS), the platform has already helped one organisation better understand user behaviour and gain customer loyalty.

A major pharmaceutical company from Taiwan, the client leveraged the platform for actional insights that improved its service delivery. For instance, it churned diagnostics insights on how diabetes products were prescribed and for what diagnoses.

It also generated data on how frequently patients looked for treatment and when they would switch between types of drugs.

These insights helped determine what most Type 2 diabetes patients required in terms of treatment. The Taiwanese pharmaceutical company was able to better understand patient behaviour and roll out the appropriate customer engagement strategy to increase brand loyalty.

The data insights were generated based on Zuellig’s own datasets, its data partners’ prescription data and publicly available data on diabetes. These comprised, among others, curated prescriptions and data from Zuellig’s activities, including data from manufacturing plants and healthcare organisations.

With this layered and diverse data approach, the Taiwanese pharmaceutical client was able to increase client loyalty by 60%, as well as reduce the number of customers switching away from the client’s drugs by 29%. Some 54% of its big customer accounts also expanded their share with the company. These figures were recorded in March 2022.

Bridging data gaps by establishing trust

One of the key challenges in Asia’s healthcare sector is the lack of a trusted platform that can facilitate data exchange.

Most healthcare data is recorded as descriptive or diagnostic data, which describes past problems and opportunities as they emerge. Hence, the insights extracted are typically limited in value and do not necessarily improve new patient outcomes.

A robust platform is critical to drive more useful insights, especially as the healthcare sector is expected to generate more data. Today, the industry generates 30% of the world’s data volume, estimates RBC Data Capitals. This is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 36% by 2025, which is 6% faster than manufacturing and 10% higher than financial services.

To tap this growth, the healthcare industry needs the right tools that can maintain data privacy and security.

Zuellig wants to address this by offering a trusted platform that enables flexible data partnership models and is integrated with processes to ensure regulatory compliance.

Its BIaaS platform is powered by privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) and confidential computing capabilities, which allow for data to be extracted without any personal identifying information (PII). Sensitive data also can be isolated and protected in a secured enclave while it is processed.

It enables the Zuellig service to link datasets safely, while reducing the amount of information that is unnecessary for analysis. BIaaS users can access advanced analytics based on predictive insights that leverage various data sources, including government tenders, insurance claim data, consumer healthcare and clinical trial management.

BIaaS is currently part of Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) PET sandbox initiative, which enables companies keen to experiment with PETs to work with service providers and develop uses cases as pilots.

The IMDA sandbox also offers grants to help companies scope and deploy projects, and provides regulatory advice to allay concerns these organisations may have about compliance.

In addition, because these pilots involve fledgling technology concepts such as PETs and confidential computing, Zuellig recognises the importance of outreach to ensure success. This will be particularly important as such technologies have yet to be deployed by mainstream pharmaceutical companies that typically lack specialised data analytics capabilities.

In the case of its Taiwanese pharmaceutical client, Zuellig established a dedicated data analytics team comprising 30 regional and international members to support the deployment. Each member had specialised roles and responsibilities spanning offerings architecting and data engineering.

Zuellig also worked with its external technology partners, Google Cloud and Fortanix, although its in-house team developed and deployed the service. It worked with six PETs and confidential computing suppliers to develop proof-of-concepts, before developing a minimum viable product each for PETs and confidential computing.The pilot project, which had an overall budget of $1m to $5m, also involved months of user testing and data validation.

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