Merck Sharp & Dohme

IBM SPSS Modeler helps pharmaceutical leader identify and meet the needs of physicians and patients

Published on 25-Mar-2011

"We know, thanks to IBM SPSS text mining, which properties of and information about our drugs are particularly well understood in conversations with the doctors, and in which instances the terms used for our marketing campaigns still need to be refined." - Werner Kreiter, Data Mining Specialist at MSD

Customer:
Merck Sharp & Dohme

Industry:
Life Sciences

Deployment country:
Germany

Solution:
BA - Business Analytics, BA - Business Intelligence

Overview

As one of the largest manufacturers of prescription drugs in the world, Germany-based Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) relies heavily on input from doctors to help the patients it serves. The end result is better care for patients who are afflicted with illnesses that range from AIDS to osteoporosis to heart failure to migraine headaches to asthma.

Business need:
In order to effectively market its prescription drugs, Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) needed a deeper understanding of the attitudes and behaviors of the doctors who would be prescribing their medication.

Solution:
Using IBM SPSS Modeler, MSD was able to segment physicians according to a range of characteristics and analyze their text responses to surveys and doctor “diaries.” With these insights, MSD now knows the right approach to take when marketing their products to physicians.

Benefits:
• Insight into the attitudes of doctors who would prescribe MSD’s prescription drugs • Can segment doctors according to a wide range of characteristics such as years on the job, number of patients and qualifications • Ability to analyze text responses to doctor surveys and text from doctor “diaries” • Ability to track marketing actions such as sales visits, product communications and purchases

Case Study

To read the German version of this story click here.

As one of the largest manufacturers of prescription drugs in the world, Germany-based Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) relies heavily on input from doctors to help the patients it serves. The end result is better care for patients who are afflicted with illnesses that range from AIDS to osteoporosis to heart failure to migraine headaches to asthma.

MSD uses IBM® SPSS® data mining and text mining technologies to help the organization analyze important information it collects, and then create effective programs that best address physician and patient needs.

“Years ago, an IBM SPSS consultant showed MSD what could be achieved with data mining. The results spoke for themselves and my job was created,” said Werner Kreiter, data mining specialist at MSD.

Diagnosing doctors’ attitudes
Like any other profession, the medical industry includes people who hold a wide variety of beliefs, opinions and experiences. That’s where the challenge comes in for MSD and Kreiter: they must get a firm grasp on what the doctors are saying out in the field and then pass those analyses on to the team so it can create effective marketing campaigns for the drugs MSD manufactures. Not an easy task, considering the wide range of attitudes within this target audience.

On one end of the spectrum are the “pioneer” doctors, the physicians who are very open to new insights and research results, and fairly quickly turn scientific findings into practice. At the other end of the scale are the “conservative personality” doctors, the physicians who want to do everything by the book, spend a lot of time researching treatment options, and base their opinions on the thorough study of specialist articles or exchanges with colleagues.

“To be successful, we have to find the right way of approaching all these types of doctors. But before we even consider this, we have to first identify these groups,” said Kreiter, who uses information from various sources to reach his goal, including internal data and data from external providers.

Transforming data into marketing insights
Kreiter combines IBM SPSS Modeler text mining and quantitative analyses to get a better understanding of the data collected from surveys conducted at various communications seminars, and then provides that valuable information to MSD’s marketing team. Some of the areas measured, for example, include the number of years a doctor has been established, the number of patients a doctor serves, and additional qualifications. The software gives MSD deeper insights into this data, uncovering hidden patterns and correlation between characteristics.

MSD also uses IBM SPSS Modeler for profiling by separating doctors into different categories based upon their personal and professional characteristics. To track marketing actions, Kreiter uses IBM SPSS Modeler to segment doctors based on measures introduced by the marketing department. This, in turn, provides insight into which actions would be most effective for different target groups.

In addition to the functionality, Kreiter said he particularly likes the user friendliness of the IBM SPSS products. “I don’t need to remember any orders or commands, as is the case for other programs; on the contrary, everything can be found by means of the transparent menu structures,” he said.

Analyzing unstructured data
For MSD, IBM SPSS text mining — the analysis of unstructured, textual data — is an indispensable function. The text mining functionality is based on the natural grammatical analysis of text, which isn’t dependent solely on keyword search, but analyzes the syntax of language and “understands” the content.

To this end, MSD works with the Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung panel (Association for Consumer Research, GfK), which uses the daily “diary” entries of doctors on the panel to learn which pharmaceutical representatives have visited them, what product communications were conveyed, and whether in the future they will include these products in the range of drugs they prescribe. Text mining analyses of the product conversations noted by the doctors reveal speech patterns that accompany various prescribing behaviors. This enables pharmaceutical manufacturers to optimize the communications skills of their field workers.

“We know, thanks to IBM SPSS text mining, which properties of and information about our drugs are particularly well understood in conversations with the doctors, and in which instances the terms used for our marketing campaigns still need to be refined,” explained Kreiter.

About IBM Business Analytics
IBM Business Analytics software delivers complete, consistent and accurate information that decision-makers trust to improve business performance. A comprehensive portfolio of business intelligence, predictive analytics, financial performance and strategy management, and analytic applications provides clear, immediate and actionable insights into current performance and the ability to predict future outcomes. Combined with rich industry solutions, proven practices and professional services, organizations of every size can drive the highest productivity, confidently automate decisions and deliver better results.

As part of this portfolio, IBM SPSS Predictive Analytics software helps organizations predict future events and proactively act upon that insight to drive better business outcomes. Commercial, government and academic customers worldwide rely on IBM SPSS technology as a competitive advantage in attracting, retaining and growing customers, while reducing fraud and mitigating risk. By incorporating IBM SPSS software into their daily operations, organizations become predictive enterprises – able to direct and automate decisions to meet business goals and achieve measurable competitive advantage. For further information or to reach a representative visit www.ibm.com/spss.

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
SPSS Modeler

Legal Information

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