What Big Data Means for Medical Affairs

Josh Pirtle
Feb 9, 2021

Medical Affairs experts see a wide range of involvement in healthcare and pharma industries, making them a unique resource for engagement with a variety of stakeholders. By adding big data and capitalizing on new data technologies, medical affairs professionals gain access to pertinent information to help their organizations make better business decisions. 

Big data is a common term in the tech industry, but is much less familiar in the healthcare industry. Content is shared daily by millions, making lots of connections with how communication happens concerning healthcare. 

We believe the work of every Healthcare Professional (HCP) is crucial to analyze and understand. Medical Affairs teams have struggled to scratch the surface of the data available in healthcare. The primary contributor to this crisis is the lack of centralized data. There are just too many resources to search for the information we need.

Big Data and What's Important

Big data doesn't directly translate to "a lot of data," but instead is characterized as "an extremely large set of data that allows computational analysis to reveal particular human behavior, trends, and relationships," by IGI Global. In healthcare, analyzing this information lays the groundwork for better patient care, faster research outcomes, and breakthroughs in clinical trials.

Useful data comes from measuring the 4 Vs of data:

Volume: We need to make sure we have the right size of data to create scalable decisions. 

Variety: The types of information we are collecting will allow us to make the right connections.

Velocity: The rate at which we collect the data and analyze it will be crucial to understand the right timing. 

Veracity: Our end goal is to make sure we have the most trusted data to make the right decisions.

H1's Role in Healthcare Data

H1 is in the process of profiling every possible HCP and their professional work. Our HCP profiles allow us to gain a better understanding of the work going on in healthcare. 

In our profiles, we analyze Publications, Clinical Trials, Social Media Influence, Citation Influence, Conferences, Payments Data, as well as Claims Data. Because of our large dataset, we can understand the authentic influence of an HCP and its Institutions of affiliation. 

Why is H1's data special? 

Built by scientists, we understand what information is necessary to make meaningful connections. We use advanced machine learning for optimal accuracy of our data. We start from the micro-level problems of the clients we work with and try to create a better funnel of data to solve that need. At the end of the data, we want our understanding of Big Data to solve real-world problems.

With our profiles and use of big data, you can identify Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) in the healthcare world, and see which HCPs are making the most significant influence in a selected field of study. Find research partners, learn about new medical research, and reach out to medical influencers to leverage big data and move forward in the medical affair's process. 

Machine Learning and AI 

In the purest form, Reinforcement Learning is the most akin to what most associate with AI; however, each of the processes mentioned provide a non-human method for completing a task and determining a result. 

● Supervised Machine Learning - Uses an input and output data set to predict outputs from new inputs

● Unsupervised Machine Learning  - Uses data to look for rules and patterns previously unseen.

● Reinforcement Learning - Uses a continually evolving set of data to determine the best outcome.

Types of Big Data in Healthcare

H1 is ramping up the way the healthcare industry accesses big data, and we are on a mission to connect HCPs to the information they need to make the best decisions for their patients. 

Claims Data

Valuable and massive, claims data offers a trove of information that can be linked to an individual activity. While continually growing, the scope is still small in terms of the number of individuals represented and only gets into the Big Data space if there are more people and data points. Expanding claims data is a significant goal that will help healthcare professionals and medical affairs experts hone in on essential factors that impact stakeholders.

Social Media and People Network Indexing

In time, social media will be more indexable and ingestible. The challenge is in finding the right way to sort through everything. As algorithms become more complicated than before, this process will become simpler. This data will no longer be scary from a compliance standpoint and will help to illustrate the patient voice and the impact treatment has on an individual's life/network.

HCP Generated Information

Current patient populations, diagnosis, and prescription information, how they engage and interact with new information and their interest in broader knowledge. This HCP generated information will only increase in visibility as the access to data becomes more ubiquitous. HCPs will have a more profound presence on Social Media, more aptitude with telemedicine, and a better relationship with the information they are generating.  In short, they will own that path forward. 


As more and more data is generated on patient and HCP interaction, this data becomes increasingly valuable.  We need more data to make this relevant. More patients and more HCPs helping make sense of the information to build out all the possibilities. This data can show what types of patients HCPs are seeing how patients are responding to treatments and their path to wellness.

Patient Data

As patients enter more into the conversation, there is a need to understand the data they are generating. This can be in the form of social media and personal fitness trackers (our current world) in the form of more mainstream tracking and medical adherence applications (future) or some not yet invented concept. Issues abound with this as the world is not set up for this type of data. This data would give an idea into the way patients are adhering to medical recommendations, how they seek out care, and what factors improve patient outcomes.

The Big Picture for Big Data in Medical Affairs

With all of this aggregated information pouring in, those who work in medical affairs have the task of pinpointing essential metrics that are relevant to their specific healthcare niche. Utilizing this data with the help of expert analysis will create a more fluid health care community, and provide better solutions in the medical world. Big Data helps us see the big picture, and is crucial to the future of medical affairs professional's success.