The synthetic data surge: pharma’s next frontier for research innovation

Introduction to the World of Synthetic Data

Think of synthetic data like a stunt double in the movies. It stands in for real data, performing all the risky moves- without exposing ‘real’ people’s privacy. In healthcare, we create synthetic patient and HCP profiles digitally or virtually using AI, modelling or other computational methods. The benefit? They can act just like ‘real’ stakeholders for researchers to study without needing to risk anyone’s personal information.


Why Use Synthetic Data in Healthcare?

Using synthetic data is a bit like having a fast-forward button in research. It speeds things up, cuts costs, and still gets you the results you need. It’s like having an unlimited number of patients to study without any of the privacy headaches. Plus, it’s super precise because you can control all the variables.

Navigating the Nuances: A Balanced Approach

Despite its promise, synthetic data is not without its challenges. Accuracy and compliance are of course paramount in pharmaceutical research, and thus, synthetic personas must be handled with precision and care. That means checking and double-checking that your ‘fake’ data matches with what you’d expect from actual patients. And, it means being mindful of striking a balance between innovation and regulation, guided by expertise and thoughtful validation practices.

Synthetic Data in Action: From Theory to Therapy

In the real world, pharma companies are already using synthetic data to test new drugs without needing as many volunteers. They’re also using it to predict how well patients will follow their treatment plans and to figure out the best way to introduce new medications to the market.

These real-world applications are the true testament to synthetic data’s power. Imagine a world where clinical trials are leaner, with synthetic control arms reducing the need for human subjects and thus, ethical and logistical burdens.

Market research too is beginning to feel the impact – and explore the power of leveraging synthetic personas to develop a better understanding of patient preferences, market receptiveness, unmet needs, etc-  leading to potentially stronger models for therapeutic adherence.

How Pharma Leaders Can Stay Ahead: Knowledge is Power

For those leading the charge in Pharma, here’s how you can stay on top:

  • Educate: Invest in your team’s knowledge of synthetic data and its application in healthcare research. Understanding its scope and limitations is crucial. An easy way to do this – join  AI Navigator, the first global community designed to help healthcare marketing and insights professionals navigate the ever-changing world of artificial intelligence to give you that competitive edge
  • Collaborate: Communicate cross-functionally to identify areas where synthetic data can be tested and trailed, even if on a small scale. Real-world testing can offer invaluable insights, and help your teams to better assess the risks and opportunities associated with synthetic data.
  • Lead: By adopting synthetic data in your research and sharing your findings via thought leadership and at conferences, you’ll not only be at the forefront of innovation but also establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry.


Abigail Stuart