Back in the early 1990's, prescribing information was gathered at the pharmacy outlet level and the pharmaceutical market analyst's nightmare was traveling scripts. The data were captured where the script was filled as opposed to where the prescription was written. So, if Dr. John Smith, who is based in Chicago, writes a script for a patient who fills the script in New York, sales rep Jane Doe, who calls on Dr. John Smith, gets no credit. In short, that muddies the link between promotion and results, puzzling marketers as to what really happened.
Physician-level data was the next level and soon established itself as the data source of choice for a whole array of analyses. Today, physician-level data is so deeply ingrained in our analytical reflexes we can hardly conceive of doing virtually any physician analysis (e.g., targeting, segmentation, promotion response, etc.) without having recourse to IMS Xponent or NDC Source Prescriber. We are hooked!
The new kid on the block is patient-level data. Unlike physician-level data that describes the wholesale activity of Dr. John Smith as writing say 50 scripts of Lipitor, patient-level data zooms in on the patients of Dr. John Smith and specifies patient by patient who actually gets Lipitor.
Patient-level data means even more data to analyze for an industry that is already replete with data. But this is not the main barrier to adoption of patient-level data collection and analysis.