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CASE STUDY - Verispan Analyzes Massive Pharmaceutical Database with Enterprise Business Intelligence

Commentary by Michael Haggerty, Director of Business Intelligence Solutions, Verispan


Verispan, a healthcare informatics joint venture of Quintiles Transnational Corp. and McKesson Corp., provides a broad array of information products and services to the healthcare industry, including sales targeting and compensation products; market research audits; healthcare profiles; comprehensive managed care offerings; primary market research; opinion leader mapping; data integration, warehousing, and mining; data analysis and consulting; direct mail; list services; disease management studies; and cost/benefit analyses, among many others. Verispan is the nation’s leading provider of patient-centric longitudinal data, with dozens of products used by clients spanning the industry. Headquartered in Yardley, PA, Verispan employs more than 500 dedicated healthcare information professionals. The company’s Web site is

Verispan Adopts MicroStrategy for Enterprise BI

Verispan chose MicroStrategy for its ease of customization, scalability, reliability, and reusability. Key capabilities include MicroStrategy’s ability to work against very large databases, a rich reporting feature set, tight integration with Oracle, the platform’s acceptance across the pharmaceutical industry, and flexible deployment (Web or desktop; intranet or Internet).

MicroStrategy supports 20 BI applications that are used both directly by Verispan’s client users and internally in support of client deliverables. Vector One®: Total Patient Tracker (TPT) is the first and only service that projects the distinct number of patients taking a therapy or multiple therapies over time, allowing clients to develop optimal marketing strategies based on patient characteristics within specific drug markets or therapeutic areas. This dynamic system allows users to modify market definitions and/or time periods for study. TPT has been in production for three years and is utilized by more than 250 external clients and Verispan employees.

Vector One™: Prescriber Dashboard provides clients with a quick view of key prescribing events such as new patient starts and drug switching/adding. Prescriber Dashboard provides many key prescriber and sub-national reports that help sales operations groups target the right physicians, at the right time, with the right message, which is critical to the success of their brands. Data is available weekly, monthly, or in greater time aggregations. Markets are predefined for easy data evaluation, and every drug available through retail pharmacies is available for analysis. The system is used internally by Verispan to deliver approximately 150 detailed prescriber reports to clients each month.

Pharmacy Cost Analyzer (PCA) isa Web-based pricing analysis tool thatcompares a client’s cash and third-partytransactions against 20 other chainsand independent pharmacies, which iscritical to maximizing revenue. PCAenables users to understand the keypricing metrics within their marketsand maximize their competitive advantage.This user-friendly, point-and-clickapplication is updated weekly and maintainsa four-week rolling history, givingclients the timeliest access to benchmarkdata available.

User, Data, and Report Statistics

Verispan’s database has four years of data history and continues to grow. There are twice-weekly and once-monthly data loads, and it is available 24/7 to its 1,675 total users. Verispan’s team includes 10 MicroStrategy developers.

Verispan’s database is a 120-terabyteOracle 9i® data warehouse. MicroStrategy projects currently run against approximately10 of the 120 terabytes. Thewarehouse hardware includes seven IBMpSeries UNIX servers attached to EMCstorage. Fourteen application servers hostMicroStrategy products, including version8.0.1 I-Server, Web, and NarrowcastServer, across the production, test, anddevelopment environments.

According to Verispan, other BIproducts have difficulty handling theirhigh data volumes at a granular level.Prior to MicroStrategy, only a limitedset of skilled developers and analystsat Verispan had direct access to thedata, and most reporting was done withcustom PL/SQL scripts. This approachwas not scalable because most of thecode written was not reusable. WithMicroStrategy, Verispan has been ableto open up the patient-centric data warehouseto a wider group that includesnon-technical employees.

Business Wins

Since adopting MicroStrategy, there hasbeen widespread user acceptance amongVerispan employees, and several clientshave contracted with Verispan to buildand host custom data marts with aMicroStrategy front end. MicroStrategybasedproduct offerings are also a majorpart of a multiyear contract Verispanwas recently awarded with the U.S. Foodand Drug Administration, providing theagency with data to monitor trends inthe pharmaceutical industry.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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