What’s more important: Real-world data quality or speed?

Here is what executives from biopharma and medical device companies had to say about real-world data and the timeless dilemma of quality versus speed.

Medical device and biopharma leaders have spoken: Data quality matters more than speed. A new survey conducted by Merative and BioPharma Dive polled 150 executives from small and midsize biopharma and medical device companies on their perspectives surrounding real-world data (RWD) trends, opportunities, and predictions.

Why quality matters for healthcare data

A large majority (82%) of small to midsize companies said they would be willing to wait a few months to make sure data is accurate — indicating that data quality is nonnegotiable. That is in stark contrast to a market crowded with messaging about real-time RWD, and it could indicate frustration among companies that fast does not always mean good in the real-world data space.

These survey results demonstrate that RWD customers recognize that quality requires rigor, which takes time. The best databases — such as MarketScan® by Merative™ — employ a meticulous process of ingesting and curating healthcare data sources along with comprehensive quality control. The time and effort spent refining the data is worthwhile because the resulting dataset is complete and as accurate as possible.

The importance of data quality was further confirmed when respondents were asked which factors are most important when shopping for RWD. The top 3 answers all tied back to quality, with the majority — 76% — prioritizing data completeness above all other attributes.

On the other hand, less-coveted attributes included immediate data access via the cloud and national representation of another country, indicating that manufacturers deprioritized real-time inputs and international datasets.

See what factors matter most

The future of RWD

When asked what types of data are most desired, respondents reported the types that are widely known and accepted already — such as electronic health records (EHRs), disease registries, and genomics — were of greatest interest. However, when asked what types of RWD they expect to use in the next 3 years, some interesting trends emerged.

Notably, the top three data sources by growth in demand between 2023 and 2026 included provider identification data, mortality data, and closed claims data. These anticipated changes reflect stakeholders’ interest in the totality of healthcare data, while acknowledging the complexity of compiling and standardizing the diverse data types.

Historically, the RWD market has relied on a system of multiple vendor relationships that each specialize in niche datasets. However, that model may be on track for some change: 90% of respondents said they will probably feel pressure to consolidate those relationships by 2028.

This comes in an era of operational efficiency as business leaders are understandably worried about economic volatility, inflation, high interest rates, and labor shortages. Looking ahead, organizations will need to be even more selective about their real-world data vendors — not only prioritizing data of high quality, but also vendors with best-in-class expertise and analytical services.

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