For the discontinuous healthcare world of 2013 and beyond, it can’t hurt to take another look at the levels of data that make up the marketing-information bull’s-eye:

Primary Data—We all know that this term refers to information collected directly from appropriate respondents to deal with the marketing issue at hand.

Got a question? Conduct some focus groups, field a survey, etc., and you will find out the answer you need. Right away. Right on target. Simple.

Secondary Data—The pharmaceutical industry has always had a wealth of this kind of information. Prescription data, promotional data, de-identified longitudinal patient level data, etc., with more on the way. While by definition such data are not collected to answer a specific marketing question, their analysis has long given healthcare manufacturers valuable insights related to our marketing issues.

Tertiary Data—You haven’t heard this term used before, because I just made it up! In my parlance, it refers to “external drivers” that might well have significant impact on determining the right answer to your marketing question. Such data include changes in US demographics, the increasing utilization of mobile devices, the number of new lives eligible for insurance coverage under Obamacare, the worsening doctor shortage and other disparate pieces of information that need to be considered in making sound marketing decisions for the future.

While tertiary data, if considered at all, might previously have been considered less-than-central for making marketing decisions, in a changing healthcare landscape, they must increasingly be thought of as comprising an essential backdrop against which all other data must be viewed.

Richard Vanderveer is chief solutions officer, rbV3.