Blog / Leadership & Transformation

Digital Transformation in the Pharmaceutical Sector

The gains of digital transformation have been flooding in across a wide spectrum of industries and the pharmaceutical sector should be no exception here. As digital empowers patients to play a more active role in their own care, it is important that the sector keeps up with the pace and modernizes its platforms, processes and practices.As in other industries, there is no single template to guarantee success. However, all leaders in the life sciences industry agree on the three key considerations that the organizations need to embrace in order to start off with the right foot: Digital transformation demands the leadership of the organization to radically rethink business operational models and where their organization lies within the industry. As new models of care surge, new economic models are also being created. Digital enables activities, such as remote monitoring, and data exchanges between clinicians and patients. Thanks to the smart devices generating massive amounts of data, the industry can gain a more accurate insight into patient’s conditions. In order to fully embrace these new technologies and their potential, the organization has to re-imagine its operational model from the supply chains, the manufacturing process, the delivery model to the interaction with the physicians and the patients. The growing amount of data entails the need for an infrastructure that can accommodate large volumes of it. Traditional IT infrastructures cannot sustain high-throughput computational workflows necessaries to quicken the pace of research. As a result of working with multiple technology vendors, on an array of different platforms, the life science companies will have to deal with more and more complex IT environment. Aging physical IT infrastructure could interrupt workflows and slow processes. When asked about the biggest barriers to digital transformation, changing the internal culture of the organization often comes first. Culture change is a slow and gradual process that must be handled patiently, that means that digital leaders must constantly educate themselves on how to be more customer-focused, innovative, agile and collaborative. To make a digital their new reality, there needs to be complete alignment - from the board and executive team through the whole organization. But as we already said in a previous article about the C-level executives' role in digital transformation: digital success starts from the top, but so does digital failure. It might take time and effort, but at the end of the day, culture change is the glue that will bring it all together.For pharma companies, the main objective of all the changes and effort put into digital development is to drive and create value. The main areas to grow in this sense will be: It is predicted that anytime-anywhere virtual care will become increasingly commonplace in healthcare in general. Patient portals for consulting medical records and communicating with one’s physician, apps to fill scripts and online patient communities to speak about one’s disease are the new reality in the industry. For the pharma sector, this opens up a whole new world for marketing, the exchange of information, and recruitment for trials. And these interactions translate into opportunities to derive value as pharmaceutical sales reps, medical science liaisons, and patient-service teams can inform and influence patients, physicians, and caregivers in person or via mobile phones, the Internet, apps, or social media. The ability to personalize interactions with stakeholders is a key value driver from digital technology in any industry. In pharma, thanks to the use of sensors and digital services, the sector can provide tailored care around the clock. This, in turn, means that there will be broader engagement with patients and physicians from multiple touchpoints of the patient care process. It is predicted that in the years to come a significant proportion of the pharmaceutical portfolio will create value through the digital ecosystem that constantly monitors a patient's condition and provides feedback to the patient and other stakeholders. When pharma companies start to link and mine the data they have locked away in different technical and organizational silos, they’ll have a great opportunity to improve their pipelines, products, and strategies. This way they can use internal and external data sources to drive superior results in R&D and marketing and to optimize their inner procedures. Cloud and mobile technology, sensors, and next-generation business intelligence will help the companies to achieve a new level of automation in business processes. This would translate into streamlined automated workflows with few handovers and end-to-end, real-time transparency on progress, costs, and business value. The back office, the supply chain, as well as R&D and commercial, have a lot to gain from the step change in the efficiency, responsiveness, and improving the agility of complex processes. In the following graphic we can observe the eight technologies, that according to American Pharmaceutical Review will deliver innovative value to life science companies.Digital transformation has been affecting all industries, changing their nature of work, the markets and the pace of innovation, and the pharmaceutical sector is no exception here. Drug makers need to embrace innovations to address more effectively the rising costs, R&D productivity and other pressing subjects. When the drug makers are prepared to apply the innovations from computer sciences to merge with medical and biological sciences, we as a society can take a huge step forward a more personalized medicine that, in turn, leads to more effective and efficient care.

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Zigurat Global Institute of Technology