March 29, 2024

How RWE will shape the future of pharmaceutical marketing

Physicians now rely on real-world evidence to make treatment decisions. Pharmaceutical marketing teams need to bring it to them in formats that fit within clinical workflows.


In pharmaceutical marketing, traditional approaches lean heavily towards non-personal promotion strategies, with sales teams often doing the majority of outreach to disseminate proactive marketing materials to healthcare providers (HCPs). While marketing departments are tasked with crafting content that is both compliant and engaging, it is usually the sales representatives who are bringing this information into the medical community. This approach often reserves more personalized promotional materials for HCPs who opt-in to receiving such information, which potentially narrows the scope and effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

As the industry strives to refine its marketing strategies, the focus is increasingly on creating more targeted campaign messages, improving engagement with physicians, and, most importantly, building trust and improving patient outcomes. Real-world evidence (RWE), with its insights into the efficacy of treatments in real-world settings, will be an essential asset for companies looking to make their marketing efforts more effective. Moreover, HCPs are showing an increasing interest in applying RWE to their clinical decisions, with a significant majority (76%) recognizing its necessity. This presents an opportunity for marketers to integrate RWE into clinical workflows and facilitate more informed treatment choices. Yet, despite the clear benefits, the adoption of RWE in clinical decision-making remains low among physicians (31%), highlighting a gap that pharmaceutical marketers are still learning to bridge effectively.

RWE 3.0

RWE includes data from various clinical sources, including electronic health records (EHRs), claims and billing data, product and disease registries, as well as consumer health data from monitoring devices and wellness applications. Its usage has evolved over the past decade, with different phases identifiable based on primary focus and application (see Table 1).

Thanks to recent advancements in data science, RWE is becoming increasingly valuable. Established health technology companies and newer entrants claim to possess the largest medical claims databases on record. These databases can include over 50 billion claims transactions dating back to more than a decade ago. These include aggregated information from different sources, including private health insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid patient data, among others. We are also seeing an increasing number of partnerships in this space, as different groups come together to pool databases. For the most part, RWE is used for safety and post-market surveillance, regulatory decisions, label expansion, and informing clinical practice guidelines and reimbursement policies. The applications vary — payers may be looking to better understand the cost of care and coverage, while pharmaceutical companies may be seeking to identify the care pathways their product is most aligned with.

We anticipate that the forthcoming wave of RWE will drive the daily practice of personalized medicine. This involves utilizing RWE to pinpoint and connect with the appropriate HCPs and patients who would most benefit from certain treatments, including those emerging from clinical trials. As marketing strategies transition from a largely impersonal promotional model to more individualized and data-informed methods that harness RWE, they will more effectively address the needs of HCPs and patients and make a significant difference.

Table 1. Evolution of RWE


Primary focus

Key applications


Generation 1 (circa 2011)

Safety and post-market surveillance (PMS)

  • Monitoring the safety and performance of drugs after regulatory approval
  • Identifying and addressing safety concerns in real-world patient populations
  • Monitoring adverse events and long-term safety profiles

Generation 2 (2011-2015)

Integration across the product lifecycle

  • Supporting regulatory decisions, label expansion, and post-marketing commitments
  • Advancing disease understanding and influencing clinical guidelines
  • Guiding outcome-based reimbursement decisions
  • Providing evidence for label expansions
  • Informing reimbursement decisions based on real-world effectiveness

Generation 3 (Emerging, beyond 2015)

Integration into clinical settings and physician engagement

  • Directly integrating RWE into clinical practice to support physician decision-making
  • Enhancing patient engagement and treatment adherence
  • Tailoring treatment approaches based on real-world patient data
  • Presenting actionable insights to physicians at the point-of-care


Reimagining market access with RWE

Market access is the process by which new therapies enter healthcare markets and become available to patients. This involves navigating regulatory approval, negotiating pricing and reimbursement agreements, and overcoming barriers to access. RWE-enabled market access strategies will become the standard for the successful launch and commercialization of new products.

Consider the application of RWE in understanding and addressing the complexities of treating heart failure (HF). Unlike traditional data sources such as randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or cardiology registries (CRs), which often capture data from controlled settings and specific patient populations, RWE reflects the diverse and dynamic reality of everyday clinical practice. Through RWE, we gain deeper insights into the epidemiological profile of HF, revealing disparities and nuances that may not be captured by traditional research methods. In fact, RWE has demonstrated that the epidemiological profile of HF is largely different from that reported by RCTs or CRs. 

By analyzing RWE, we can better understand treatment outcomes, healthcare resource utilization, and overall costs associated with different therapies. In an engagement with Anthem, for example, we demonstrated with RWE that there are significant potential savings and improved impact on patient outcomes with sacubitril-valsartan (Entresto) compared to Enalapril, despite the higher cost of the medication itself.  By demonstrating the long-term benefits and potential cost savings of a medication, marketing teams can effectively communicate the value proposition of newer, potentially more expensive treatments to payers, healthcare providers, and patients. Marketing strategies can also be customized for high-priority patient groups who are most likely to benefit from specific treatments, as demonstrated in engagements like this one with Anthem.

Bridging the gap with integrated solutions

While some of the leading companies in the RWE field are already demonstrating the value of pharmaceutical products and facilitating market access through their evidence, integrating evidence into the EHR to support decision making has not yet been achieved broadly. Oncology-focused RWE companies, as one example, have made significant progress in personalizing cancer treatment strategies, showcasing the potential of such integration. Yet, other areas of medicine, including cardiology, have not been as thoroughly explored.

Given the prevalence of heart disease in the United States and cardiologists' existing familiarity with the utility of RWE, there exists a significant opportunity to develop RWE solutions specifically designed for cardiology. A survey by the American College of Cardiology suggests that additional education on how to assess and interpret RWE could help physicians to integrate data and learnings from both RCTs and RWE into clinical decisions. Marketing strategies that use RWE must not only be strategic in their planning but also tactical in their execution, employing RWE to deliver relevant, actionable insights to healthcare providers. Such approaches should seamlessly align with clinical workflows, ensuring that the information provided is both relevant and practical for medical professionals in their day-to-day practice.

Clint for point-of-care engagement

Clint integrates with EHR to automate the analysis of patient needs and provide HCPs with recommendations for specific therapies or trials. In this way, our technology enables marketers and medical affairs teams to directly engage HCPs and ensure the gold standard of care is being delivered in all clinical encounters — achieving maximal coverage and impact. This innovation will push the industry from RWE 2.0 to 3.0, where RWE is integrated into clinical practice to improve patient outcomes, while reshaping marketing and medical affairs strategies in the pharmaceutical industry. Importantly, Clint is HIPAA certified and maintains privacy compliance while driving promotion and awareness and new treatments.

Maximizing ROI with data-driven insights

RWE should be viewed as a complementary tool to traditional market research, offering precision in understanding the convergence of marketing and healthcare data. When RWE is woven into existing marketing frameworks, it empowers marketers to more accurately pinpoint their target demographics, streamline budget distribution, track campaign effectiveness in real-time, and craft communications that resonate with their specific audience. Clint augments ROI by tracking metrics beyond traditional campaign performance indicators, such as script volumes, new patient acquisitions, and specialist referrals. These metrics are specifically crafted for pharmaceutical marketers, filling a previously existing gap in campaign measurement and evaluation. This viewpoint underscores the current landscape of pharmaceutical marketing and the transformative potential of RWE in not just enhancing patient care but also in redefining the marketing and adoption strategies for treatments within clinical settings.

Authored by
Cassandra Broadwin, MPH, Guy Rallo

Get the latest insights delivered straight to your inbox