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  • Writer's pictureKarsten Schmidt

Smartly improving segmentation & targeting quality for novel brands through vertical searches

Segmenting and targeting Healthcare professionals within a therapeutic area which is new to a Life Science company can be challenging as it is difficult to identify potential early adopters for the new treatment coming to the market. Similar Segmentation and Targeting challenges may exist for innovative rare disease treatments and novel medical devices. Comprehensively screening publicly available web presence of HCP practices through Vertical Search Health helps to narrow down potential early adopters, a decisive factor during the launch phase of these products. We have asked Nico Rosen, founder of Exaris Solutions, about this interesting innovative technology.

Karsten: Thanks for taking the time for this interview, Nicholas. How have you come up with the idea of building Vertical Search technology?

Nicholas: Dear Karsten, first of all a big thank you for your time and interest in our innovative technology. We have noticed that many players in the market (pharma, medtech, insurance, digital health companies, etc.) would like to have more information about their HCPs to target them more efficiently. The existing solutions only serve this wish to a limited extent (and are not even more than a digital phone book), as the full potential of the most powerful and underutilised source of health profiling information is not being realised, and that is the websites of healthcare providers. Therefore, we have made this vertically searchable to make the desired information extractable in a structured way.

Illustration of HCP websites data extraction through vertical search

Karsten: If Pharma or Medical Devices clients want to target certain HCPs with their innovative brands, how do you go about finding those potential early adopters?

Nicholas: The starting point is always a joint content framework workshop: What describes or circumscribes the content area clients are looking for? An example: Let's assume we are working in the indication area of pain management, here there are many terms that can be relevant, e. g. chronic pain, somatic pain, visceral pain, reflexive pain, etc. The more specific terms can be defined, the more precisely the content hotspots and thus the relevant HCPs can be identified. Subsequently, channel preferences or digital affinities can be measured (e. g. use of online appointment management/video consultation, social media, look and feel of the website, etc.). In this way, the client not only receives very specific targeting but also extremely valuable additional information about their HCPs.

Karsten: How long did it take to develop this technology and what challenges did you face along the way?

Nicholas: To be honest, this process is never finished, because we have developed our own search engine, which on the one hand is constantly updated and on the other is permanently evolving. For example, we now search not only websites, but also CVs, academic papers and social media feeds.

But you asked for a timeframe: the programming of the basis alone took more than a year - the biggest challenge was to search and present the complexity of the German health market in a uniform structure.

Karsten: I understand that this technology is now available in Germany. What needs to happen to also deploy this technology in other markets and how much time is required approximately to deploy your solution in those new markets?

Nicholas: For each country, we simply have to teach the algorithm how the health system is structured and which outpatient and inpatient constructs can be found. The technology works all over the world - we are currently boarding the BeNeLux region on. The time factor depends, of course, on the complexity of the market and the desired result. If, for example, all trust centres in the NHS are to be searchable, this will take about 2-3 weeks. If specific information is to be transferred to a frontend and, for example, all doctors in a specialist department are to be displayed in a structured way, this will take longer. A rough time estimate here is 2-3 months.

Karsten: If countries outside Germany are interested in your vertical search engine but do not want to go for a full country deployment as a first step, what smaller scale alternatives are available?

Nicholas: Regionality is an important factor. We can take this into account in our processes and also make only certain cities or regions searchable. You don't have to directly search France; we can also start with Paris first.

Karsten: In the omnichannel customer engagement world for Life Sciences of today, better understanding digital affinity of HCPs can be helpful to finetune the individual omnichannel mix. How are you able to build digital personas for HCPs with your vertical search engine?

Nicholas: HCPs also use their website as an omnichannel communication platform to communicate with the patient and from this information we can see which HCPs have particular affinities. An HCP who is on Instagram and TikTok, who offers video consultation and online appointment management, who has a practice app, who talks about DiGas (Digital Health solutions) - these HCPs have an affinity for digital topics. With Vertical Search Health, we can extract this information and more and make it evaluable in a structured way.

Karsten: How can data generated through Vertical Searches be made available to in-field teams?

Nicholas: Most of our clients, of course, have an existing CRM with data on HCPs. This is great because we can enrich the data here:

Today it is Dr. Müller, general practitioner -

Tomorrow it is Dr. Müller, general practitioner, who is licensed as a yellow fever vaccination centre, communicates with his patients via WhatsApp, offers a travel medicine consultation and has a LinkedIn practice profile, he qualified as a specialist in 1986 and has had his practice certified according to DIN:ISO.

All HCPs data of the client can also be integrated into Vertical Search Health, so the sales force can always get creative and come up with their own regional targeting.

Karsten: As you are screening entire websites of HCPs is it possible to also score the quality of their internet presence?

Nicholas: Of course. Not only the content can be extracted, but also the technical nature of a page. Is it light or dark? Is it a long scroller? Are there many or few links? There are various attributes that can be measured here. Our scoring index goes from 1 - 10: Simply described, a score of 1 = A black website with purple font in size 6 in business card format and in the header the lettering in WordArt "Welcome" bounces up and down in neon green. A score of 10 = A long scroller with a structured appearance. Harmonised colouring - possibly moving images and clear visitor guidance (the technical terms would go beyond the scope here). Currently, the nationwide website score averages 6 - and rising, as HCPs realise that good internet presence is important.

Karsten: What were some of the important learnings when deploying your solution to clients?

Nicholas: Our most important learning has been: Work properly with the data! This new flexible way of generating insights into HCPs offers many new possibilities and these must be combined with existing processes.

We achieve the best project results when nobody thinks they know everything, but when the customer experience is combined with our data power - then it becomes fascinating.

Karsten: Thanks for sharing these interesting insights related to vertical search. I think that our readers now realise how in-depth information can be collected with the described innovative technology leading to enhanced profiling information of individual HCPs.

In summary we can say that enriching customer data based on vertical searches helps to better understand digital profiles of customers and their channel affinity. Together with information about fields of HCP specialisation this enriched data can be used to fine-tune future omnichannel segmentation and targeting, a fitting method of special interest when Life Sciences companies enter new therapeutic areas.

What other data sources do you think should be utilised to gather additional insights about HCPs’ specific fields of interest and specialisation? Please feel free to comment below.

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Xeleratio Consulting Ltd.

We help Life Sciences executives improve sales performance with innovative best-in-class Business Excellence tools and methodologies . Expertise in Business Excellence has been gained with over 12 years of working in different global and regional roles in the Life Sciences industry.


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