A medical sales representative’s objective is to educate doctors about the drug brands they represent to ultimately increase sales and market share. This requires not only medical knowledge but also a business strategy that uses prescription information to drive effort in the most efficient way. Prescription information can be very rich (depending on its source provider) and may include, besides the brand data itself, dosage, quantity, intended use, and prescribing physician. A pharmaceutical company would want this data from their own brands and from other brands in the same market.
It would seem straight forward then to build dashboards and reports about total sales, market share, the top 10 prescribers, adherence to proper use, etc., and make them readily available to sales representatives. However, reality is not so simple (when is it?) and the plot starts to thicken when prescription data comes from multiple sources (for example, retail separate from wholesale or pharmacy separate from hospital), market segments are assigned to different sales representatives, management establishes that both quantitative and monetary targets must be tracked, educational events need to be correlated to sales, physician visits must follow a schedule, and so on. And more significantly, all this other data and operational parameters are not delivered in a single, uniform format, but in many formats and from varied source types such as databases, Excel files, and simple text files. Moreover, it is commonly the case that data from one source that is supposed to correlate with data from another source does not, and special matching algorithms must be developed to join them. Finally, medical sales reps need access to updated dashboards and reports from multiple devices.
Power BI is a suite of business intelligence tools to analyze data and share insights that can be used to put together this puzzle from beginning to end and deliver a visual analytics solution for medical sales reps. The five key technologies that Power BI affords here are:
- A data mashup engine that can accept inputs from more than 50 source types (e.g., SQL Server databases, Excel files, etc.) and allows syntactic and semantic transformations on the data. Data integrators have many features to massage disparate data into uniform formats.
- A data modelling functionality that permits building data models regardless of the sources of data.
- A reporting and dashboarding component with dozens of charting and configuration options. Designers have ample choices to express information visually.
- A renderization engine that allows data visualizations to be displayed beautifully and seamlessly across PCs and mobile devices. A user can switch devices without losing fidelity or functionality.
- Data gateways to extract and update data in real time or on a schedule.
In future articles, we will present these technologies as they have been used by us to build data visualization solutions for medical sales representatives.
By: Adolfo J. Socorro, Ph.D.
SQL Server and Power BI Architect