Delivering Real World Data-Driven Insights: An Executive Interview with Wendy Shusko and Jason Drenning

March 11, 2022

Delivering Real World Data-Driven Insights:
An Executive Interview with Wendy Shusko and Jason Drenning

Wendy Shusko, President and CEO and Jason Drenning, PhD, Chief Commercial Officer of STATinMED Research sat down with HealthEconomics.Com to discuss the data landscape, industry trends and value communications.

Their perspective mirrors the vision of STATinMED – to be the leading real-world evidence generator providing data insights and advisory services that demonstrate value for healthcare companies.

How do you see STATinMED changing, and how do you see yourself creating that change?

Wendy: STATinMED today is much different from the company’s origins in academia. We are extremely enthusiastic about what’s ahead. We have listened to our customers and invested in resources that have positively impacted our approach with data sources, sales and operations.

I have experience leading companies in the pharmaceutical marketplace and am well equipped to take STATinMED to the next level. We are a talented, growing team focused on accelerating insights to help customers demonstrate value. Our new strategic direction has resulted in significant growth as we’ve doubled our customer count in the last year.

Jason: With my experience in Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR)/Real-World Evidence (RWE) consulting organizations large and small, we are implementing those best practices here at STATinMED.

What are the major trends in the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare that are driving the leadership strategy for STATinMED?

Wendy: In the last 15 years we’ve seen the trend in pharmaceutical product development and medical technologies moving toward a focus on rare diseases and smaller patient populations. As a result, there is greater need for real-world data (RWD) that captures these types of use cases, which means datasets must be robust in nature with deep patient-level details and nationwide coverage. We have strategically positioned ourselves with RWD Insights, an all-payer medical and pharmacy claims dataset from 2014 to present, encompassing 300 million patients.

What is STATinMED’s unique approach to this area and what have you learned over the past 15 years of working with healthcare data assets?

Jason: Our approach is best conveyed with the “3Ds”: Discover, Develop, and Deliver. RWD Insights gives us flexibility with its size, reach, and linkage to other datasets to answer questions for customers.

We “Discover” the best data or series of datasets needed to answer research questions. With the strong talent and growth in our team we “Develop” insights that expand long-standing relationships with current customers and help to build new ones. “Deliver” is closing the loop to ensure that we communicate value through publications—abstracts, manuscripts, posters, and other reports. We emphasize discovery up front to determine the most appropriate dataset with the patients and outcomes to meet study needs. Without the right dataset, results and delivery may be compromised.

What keeps your clients up at night? What makes a difference for them?

Wendy: One driver of growth is our customers’ need for current, timely Medicare, Medicaid, and state-specific Medicaid (Center’s for Medicare & Medicaid Services or “CMS”) data. 

The challenge in the space is that if customers want CMS data there is a rather arduous 16- to 20- week process yielding dated data—it may be 2 years old. This doesn’t work for anyone. If our customers want to see the impact of the pandemic on a specific disease state, pharmaceutical product, or series of drugs, traditional CMS data just doesn’t capture it. This keeps customers up at night. They need the most current, relevant CMS data. The 30-day lag is an extremely appealing feature of RWD Insights.

Jason: This is very impactful and important as customers may be wondering about regional data or collaborative data lakes that enable discovery of unique patients. Our dataset can answer regional trends and link to create the ideal data lake. We can also provide timely data on a newly launched drug. Customers want and need to show immediate evidence of value.

Take for example a drug launched in June 2021. We ran a feasibility study of approximately 55,000 patients prescribed a drug, while a competitor revealed 200 patients—this is the power of 30-day lag time. Right now, we are evaluating this time frame for projects and studies as current as January 2022.

How do you address research questions and customer requests for insights that go beyond traditional claims data?

Jason: We are data advisors with emphasis on discovery right up front, to avoid chasing projects and initiating proposals without having alignment on customer needs. Claims data can provide deep insights and answer certain questions but if the needs involve clinical outcomes, we may need to pursue potential options like EMR, laboratory or genomics data and link that to our claims data. We manage this carefully to ensure all outcomes are explicitly discussed up front. Our RWD Insights is tokenized and linkable–we can link it to any registry, any EMR, any lab data.

We recently had a project focused on patients with rare disease, but there were no specific ICD-10 codes for their rare condition. Claims datasets are not ideal to identify patients without these codes. We used machine learning and a few different algorithms to identify patients which worked well to help our customer gain insights about the patients and the rare disease.

STATinMED’s approach and insights are foremost in the industry based on hundreds of combined experience years and >900 peer-reviewed publications in dozens of therapeutic areas.

For more information about STATinMED, click the link below to download the Capabilities At-A-Glance.


Wendy Shusko, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of STATinMED Research joined as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in 2019. She is founder and former CEO of WellSpring Pharmaceutical Corporation.

Ms. Shusko has more than 30 years’ experience within the pharmaceutical industry in a variety of senior positions, including Chief Operating Officer and CFO during her tenure at WellSpring. She held the position of Director, Financial Operations with Roberts Pharmaceutical Corp., a public company acquired by Shire Pharmaceuticals in 1999.

Ms. Shusko has extensive experience in specialty pharmaceutical and consumer products operations as well as related mergers and acquisitions transaction evaluation and implementation. Early in her career, Ms. Shusko worked in the accounting and finance arenas, where she was exposed to a broad array of operational functions through liaison, team participation and management opportunities. She is a New Jersey Certified Public Accountant.

Jason Drenning, MS, PhD, is the Chief Commercial Officer at STATinMED Research. Dr. Drenning began his career as a small business entrepreneur in Washington DC. He holds a PhD in Applied Physiology from the University of Florida.

He began his industry career in medical devices, driving Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR)/Real-World Evidence (RWE) projects with regulatory and reimbursement implications. Jason led the launch of Cardinal Health’s HEOR business, during which he also completed the Executive Leadership Program at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Drenning has held three roles of increasing responsibility at STATinMED, and is currently Chief Commercial Officer.

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