Numbers to Narratives

Published: 1 Year agoArticle

How to Approach Data Visualization for Pharma.

Data Visualization is the single most powerful tool available to the pharmaceutical industry, enabling deep, meaningful conversations between medical teams and healthcare professionals (HCPs). As discussed in our previous article, many challenges have risen exponentially with the explosion of clinical data, its complexity and volume. Today more than ever, it has become imperative to differentiate, facilitate retention and provide value to HCPs around the clinical data we generate. To weigh up the benefits vs risks associated with clinical products, using Data Visualization is no longer a luxury but a necessity for growing medical teams including medical science liaisons (MSLs) across the globe.  

Data Visualization enables the comprehension of complex clinical data through the use of interactive aids to dynamically unfold and convey the story behind the data. Instantly, your reach to the HCPs on their level amplifies the data most pertinent to them, thus providing a greater value and meaning to your interactions. When done effectively, this scientific exchange is satisfying for both parties, promoting learning, drug discovery, and further interactions. The field of Data Visualization is transforming the outlook of pharmaceutical companies and medical teams, who are now re‑evaluating their options when considering HCP interactions. And so, it is important to understand how to approach this novel device which can drive the discussions to greater levels and add ‘real, quantifiable’ value to your business.

Understanding Your Clinical Data, Your Audience & User Groups (Discovery)

The most critical aspect of scientific communication is to design a visual representation of the data or insights to be interpreted accurately and efficiently. The underlying thinking lays the foundation for design iteration, development and execution.

It begins with the data sets which you wish to communicate – anonymised patient level data provides transparency to evidence-based medicine and opportunities for Data Visualization Specialists to challenge the status quo. Patient level data is often not available in the regular published studies and so ‘raw’ or ‘original’ data must be sought to expose all the relevant data points from a patient level. This allows HCPs and MSLs to take a ‘deep’ dive into the data and stratify it beyond what we are used to. It is at this point where the understanding and retention of the data is enhanced. For example, a geriatrician may wish to focus on patients in a clinical study who are above the age of 50 years. In real time, the visuals will change instantaneously to show the different parameters and results such as concomitant medications or adverse events for patients above the age of 50 years. This is why obtaining patient level data is so incredibly important and valuable in developing these interactive visual aids. Finally, the data requires sufficient data points and levels of complexity for a Data Visualization approach to be applied effectively. Early considerations must be made if the tool is to house future data sets/studies.

The next step is to understand how your intended audience will interact with the data and what they will find useful. A few questions to consider: what messages do you wish to communicate? What is the focus? What is the narrative? Depending on the end-user (type of HCP) and the medical communication needs, the visual aid will require an engaging layer of user experience principles to ensure the ‘interactive’ elements are considered and built in. Further, ensuring comprehension of the data occurs, the level of engagement can be aligned with the correct type of visualization methods.  

Finally, we have to think about how this device will be disseminated and used by your medical teams. This can vary depending on your needs. Currently available platforms to consider include:

  • Touch screens at medical conference booths
  • Providing the tool on a website
  • Integrating with an iPad CLM system

Bringing this information and insights together in the ‘discovery phase’ helps our Data Visualization Specialists to work with you and build the right visual aids to suit your needs, and drive high quality conversations between your medical teams and HCPs. 


Here at PWS, we have already developed and launched a number of Data Visualization aids for our customers. Here’s what they are saying…

 "Data Visualization sets new standards in allowing HCPs to explore clinical trial data and learn about the drugs they prescribe. It is innovative, insightful and very attractive." - CEO Pharma Company

"Seeing the data presented like this and the ability to interact and pull out relevant information pertinent to me and my patients, allows me to understand the data in a way not possible by traditional approaches, it’s truly innovative and thought provoking." - Oncology Healthcare Professional

Applying Data Visualization tools and techniques to clinical data with the goal to enhance understanding and interaction is currently generating a lot of interest. It will not be long before our peers in the industry are using the technology and thinking how to drive the conversations we value so much. To learn more and take advantage of how data is accurately presented in aesthetically pleasing visualizations that can drive conversations for your audience, please contact us.