How big data is transforming medical information insights

19.09.2014 | Updated: 27.03.2023 | Health Strategy

How big data is transforming medical information insights

Big data is not a new idea at all, especially in the pharmaceutical industry where we have been working with big datasets for decades. In this article we will be discussing what big data is, how social media is being used to provide healthcare insights and 5 ways we at can analyse social media to help inform your pharma strategy.

What is big data in healthcare?

Big data in healthcare refers to the extremely large sets of healthcare data amassed from a wide variety of sources.

My own first experience of data in pharma was over twenty years ago with a company called Medicare Audits, which was later purchased by research company IMS Health (now IQVIA). With Medicare Audits I developed tools to analyse data from UK hospital pharmacies, extracting insights for pharmaceutical companies. Helping pharma to do better planning and develop strategies based on customer behaviours was an exciting introduction to the world of data in the healthcare industry.

In Medical Information departments, we have access to a lot of data. The question is, do we and our colleagues know the power of all this data, or how this data can be better explored to help provide value and commercial business insights?

How is social media being used to provide healthcare insights?

Let’s take ‘public social media’ as our dataset of today – let’s consider all conversations taking place in public social media among healthcare professionals, in all therapy areas all over the world.

With so much data in our hands, an important question is: how do we find the signal in the noise? For example, there are more than 100,000 new oncology related Twitter posts from HCPs, every month.

We could of course filter the data by healthcare professional role, location, or by searching the data for mentions of particular diseases or drugs.

5 ways we analyse big data to help inform pharma strategy

1. Use multi-dimensional data analysis

One approach that we take is to consider the data as multi-dimensional. For example when we consider healthcare professionals in public social media, we can look at their location; their role; the topics they are interested in; and we can look at how these change over time.

2. Use HCP social media language processing

Let’s consider topics and content posted. We can use a number of language processing tools to learn about needs, interests and ideas. We can use this technique to discover new or emerging areas of concern in a particular disease area.

3. Use HCP social media geolocation

We could look at geolocation. Analysing the geography of social media behaviour might indicate particular trends by location.

4. Look at HCP social media by roles

Or we can consider ‘Personally Identifiable Information’ from data published by healthcare professionals. For example, we might analyse conversation by role, to identify particular topics of interest to individual roles such as nurses compared with bariatric surgeons.

5. Analyse HCP social media over time

We can also analyse data over time, to understand how any of the other dimensions is changing. We can analyse healthcare professionals talking about a particular pharmaceutical company’s products over time. If there are big spikes in volume, we can dissect these. We can look at the role types who were most active during these spikes which helps to understand the significance of the data during the events that caused the spikes.

How to get started with big data

To get started, think about these areas: Where will you find data you can analyse? It may be closer than you think. And think about the four dimensions you could use to analyse the data – language; location; personally identifiable information; time. is committed to being where eHCPs are. As ever, when you need to know what HCPs are thinking and saying, you can keep trusting for unparalleled access to millions of eHCPs, and our guarantee to provide actionable insights.

If you would like to talk about eHCP insights or Digital Opinion Leaders, please get in touch 






































































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Meet the Author

Daniel Ghinn

Daniel has been at the helm throughout the company’s life since 1998. His rich expertise in working with pharmaceutical businesses has enabled CREATION to build business solutions that fit our clients’ needs.

Daniel is married to Jo, has three children, a cat, a dog, 28 fish, and 160,000 bees.