Data Modeling: Patient Centric vs. Unit Centric

Sometimes counting pills just isn’t enough.  When developing forecasts or trying to track product performance one has to consider how a drug is being used and look beyond the mere number of pills or vials on the market.

A good starting point includes looking at standard courses of therapy, average daily dose and similar proxies.   A better approach also considers factors such as treatment location, actual patient usage data, insurance coverage, and insights derived through primary research.   Each of these attributes takes real patients into consideration and thus can provide a better sense of what is happening in the market place.

These are some instances when patient centric modeling makes sense:

  • A mature market with generics and significant off label use
  • When products are approved for multiple indications but we are only interested in a sub-set of these indications
  • We are trying to assess market potential for a new product or indication without the benefit of a direct competitor

Here is an example of how a patient centric data model may be developed and why a unit centric approach (i.e. “counting pills”) does not always work.

Modeling data around patients involves more work than just counting pills. One has to identify data sources that provide relevant insights and one has to determine where the blind spots in that data are.  Since no data is perfect, one also has to figure out how to work around these blind spots.

Not only does such a model have to be developed, it also has to be maintained.  The market evolves over time, and today’s assumptions will no longer work at some point in the future.  To maintain a model requires regular updates and reviews of the underlying data and assumptions.  It also requires frequent “gut checks” against other market intelligence and an understanding of market influences.

Bottom line: patient centric modeling may not always be cost effective or appropriate, but when multiple indications and uses muddy the playing field it really clears things up when we can consider how products are actually being used.

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