The Holy Grail of HCP Profiling (by Nicolas Rosen & Marcus Bergler) (EN)

The Holy Grail of HCP Profiling - Tapping the full potential of practice websites as data source for targeting, segmentation and persona building

Before the GKV-Wettbewerbsstärkungsgesetz (GKV-WSG) came into effect in 2007, targeting and segmentation for the German pharmaceutical industry was comparatively easy. Prescription data was available at so called “brick level”, where only very few office based physicians in a small geographical area were anonymized so that with some additional information high potential prescribers for a specific indication could be identified with high accuracy.  

The GKV-WSG however introduced a significantly higher level of regional granularity for the use of anonymized prescription data. Since then it is only allowed to aggregate the RX data for regions with 1.300 physicians or 300.000 inhabitants. The pharmaceutical industry and their service providers adapted to the new reality and developed sophisticated multivariate statistical models, still with anonymized Rx data as basis but of course the results never reached the accuracy of targeting projects before 2007, particularly in primary care indications.

One data source that could improve the outcome quality of Targeting and Segmentation exercises significantly, are practice websites. Physicians use their website to present their expertise and any specialization of the practice to patients and have a genuine interest in providing the most up to date information. However, until now it was impossible to utilize this data source in a strategic and scalable way, manually screening tens of thousands of websites is not a sustainable model.

At Exaris Solutions we have solved this problem and developed a Vertical Search Technology for the German healthcare market (currently building the complete DACH solution) allowing users to access and analyse website content of all stakeholder groups in the healthcare system (e.g. office based physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.) in a structured and targeted way. Taking office based physicians for example we have aggregated a regularly updated universe of +/- 80.000 practice websites in Germany which are available for immediate free text search with our search engine frontend.

In addition to the free text search capabilities we have built in some standard HCP profile criteria like availability of e.g. online appointment systems, video consultation or a link to a social media profile on the practice website, supporting digital persona building for targeted Omnichannel strategies.

Let’s make it tangible and assume you’re launching a drug in Crohn’s Disease and want to find out which doctors specialize in the treatment of CD (and also communicate this on their website). By searching for Crohn’s Disease (“Morbus Crohn)”you search will retrieve 1.582 practices as a starting point for your targeting, where the websites mention the search term at least once.

You could now fine tune your search and add criteria like IBD/CED (Chronisch entzündliche Darmkrankheiten) certification of the practice and for example how many doctors and/or IBD Nurses (CED-Fachkräfte) are working in the practice and in addition build a content framework around the search term. The result would be a very detailed and comprehensive list of practices specializing in the treatment of Crohn’s Disease and by applying the additional profiling criteria (including “digital markers” as described above) you can even start to segment them by e.g. using number of relevant doctors/IBD nurses in the practice as an indicator for patient potential.

Apart from the highly specific and accurate results of our approach, we see two other main benefits as feedback from our first completed projects with pharma customers.

Customer master data accuracy

Industry standard for customer master data in the pharmaceutical industry are external address providers. By default and due to the standard data capturing, validation and update processes an average of about 10% of provided HCP addresses is outdated. When Exaris delivers project results, we see a good portion of outdated addresses in the customers’ CRMs when we match our results against their customer master database and in addition we deliver a significant number of potential prescribers that are not part of their current customer master database.

User acceptance and buy-in

As briefly described at the beginning of the article, industry and service providers have moved to sophisticated, multivariate statistical models for targeting and segmentation. Challenges like outdated HCP addresses, inaccurate results and the complex mathematical/statistical methodology make the approach and results difficult to understand and interpret for the users. This often leads to low user acceptance and buy-in in the implementation phase and jeopardizes the investment and ROI of the project. The Exaris approach however is very transparent, easy to understand and our feedback from field reps is that they actually sometimes use the same methodology (checking doctors’ websites) to find out more about doctors in their territories and really appreciate deploying this hands-on approach at scale generating tangible results.

Taking into consideration the significant downsides (including comparatively high cost) of the current Rx based targeting and segmentation “gold standard”, we believe that the Exaris Vertical Search Technology could significantly improve targeting accuracy if combined with a statistical modelling approach, respectively replace the current methodology completely for certain use cases.

Author: Nicholas Rosen

Nicholas Rosen is Chief Business Development Officer and Co-Founder of Exaris Solutions, he studied Healthcare Management/Health Economy and co-founded Exaris Solutions in October 2021 after he served as project manager for Deutsche Apotheker- und Ärztebank where he developed an innovative, digital service offering for office-based physicians.


Author: Marcus Bergler

Marcus Bergler is a globally recognized expert for KOL/HCP profiling and engagement in the pharmaceutical and digital health/DiGA industry and after a career as senior manager at IMS Health (now IQVIA), Cegedim and Veeva Systems, he now works in executive and non-executive roles at D2L Pharma Research Solutions,, Knowledge Gate Group and Exaris Solutions.


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