Why healthcare companies need to own healthcare professional data – Part 1

Issue 6, August 2020

"Why healthcare companies need to own healthcare professional data – Part 1"

Part 1

That was then, this is now…

Back in the late 90s the internet was commercialised, which enabled an opportunity that would radically change how people and brands connected and communicated.

At that time browsers were crude, interactivity was limited, data transfer speeds were glacial, social media was embryonic and digital marketing was quite simple.

All you needed to be a progressive brand in early stages of digital marketing was a website, along with a customer database and an email broadcasting tool. If you had these essential assets at your disposal, you could develop deeper insights and understanding of the needs and interests of your customers, which in turn could help your brand tailor and improve its offering.


Without these assets, companies were dependent on 3rd party research agencies and sales teams to help explain who the audience was, and what they were thinking and feeling. So it came with great expense (research) or as simply ‘heresay’ (anecdotal). Hardly the right approach to often complex audience understanding.

Back then, and unfortunately sometimes even now, the understanding of ‘audience’ was often described primarily with geographic and demographic data, and creative briefs would usually state the target audience to be something as broad as ‘25-54 year-old women with children, on the eastern seaboard’. These blanket approaches lacked rich insight, and customer data was greatly needed to shape the brands support, value and message for their customers.

Digital was a new way to accumulate customer data, and digitally progressive brands understood that building and engaging with your own customer database would provide a competitive advantage by shaping their offering from the insights gained. So brands started to build customer data driven programs of work, loyalty programs, newsletters, content hubs, and social networks.

What makes a compelling content platform?

Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter, for example is the world’s biggest content marketing platform for people planning and having children. BabyCenter delivers content in nine different languages, with more than 50 million parents visiting its 11 websites every month. The platform provides rich content, product sampling, market research projects and conversation forums which in turn, provide valuable insight. These insights, that Johnson & Johnson own by building the platform, have significantly shaped the product and service offering for the customers they serve and given them a major competitive advantage.

In a similar way, to a more targeted audience, Gilead have recently built a digital hub and presence that engages with HIV focused sexual healthcare professionals. 

This platform,, provides HCPs with the latest global and local HIV news, research and content, and integrates a centralised hub with additional outbound channels to distribute new content when it’s published. This initiative shows Gilead’s ongoing commitment to develop deeper insights and understanding of the needs and interests of healthcare professionals. With these insights, Gilead can tailor offerings and create increased support and value for the healthcare professionals they serve and people under their care.

The point is that these databases provide access to a much clearer understanding of who the audience really is. Knowing your audience, was then, and remains now an important competitive advantage. Being able to directly access your customers’ ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’ is one of the most impactful ways of shaping a business and brand offering, adding value to customers and focusing all marketing activity.

Digital engagement in healthcare

More than 20 years later, the need for customer data, insights and digital engagement programs are now required more than ever and the disadvantage to those brands without them have become even more pronounced.

The COVID-19 restrictions benched sales teams, and constrained advertising options within the healthcare marketing industry, so having an own customer database, website and engagement programs really helps continue to gather insights for your brand while access remains limited and behaviours change.

It’s fair to say, that relatively few of the world’s leading healthcare brands are digitally progressive. However, the healthcare brands that are, have already seen the benefits during the ongoing constrained economic condition, of having their own independent customer access and access to direct customer insights, as they do not rely on third party media platforms, external advertising or large sales teams.

The message is clearer today than it has ever been – in uncertain times the certainty of owning your own data and digital platforms is invaluable, and will continue to prove so.

In part two we will discuss the advantages of digital independence and the best ways to achieve it.

For more information, contact:

Simon Davies
M: 0402 425 545


Dan King
M: 0439 190 700


We are always interested in hearing from great people dedicated to making a career in pharmaceutical communications. If you’re ready to make a positive impact with Bastion Brands, get in touch today.