The past few years have given rise to tremendous change in pharma. The implementation of AI and machine learning technologies have enhanced pharma’s capabilities in a vast array of areas including, disease identification, drug discovery, clinical trials, and predictive forecasting.
The entrance of big players like Amazon into the industry and the global COVID-19 pandemic have also put pressure on pharma to improve and accelerate its procedures and bring cheaper drugs to the market faster.
One element particularly responsible for the recent developments in pharma is the explosion of available health data. New technologies and solutions developed over the past several years are providing pharma with access to health data quickly and securely. EMRs and EHRs provide pharma with real-world data on patient, clinical and genomic data, shared initiatives like Project Data Sphere and Melloddy allow companies and organizations to access shared pools of data without exchanging trade secrets, and new gadgets enable remote access to real-time health data.
As new technologies continue to make diverse forms of health data available, pharma is likely to continue to transform, speeding up processes that can typically take at least a decade while making them both cheaper and smarter.
So How Can Pharma Harness this Health Data to Increase Efficiency?
- Drug discovery and development– real-time health data of populations would enable pharma to understand what medications people need.
- Clinical trials– remote access to health data can enable pharma to implement virtual clinical trials and allow some parts of the trials to take place remotely, thereby speeding up processes and reducing challenges associated with patient recruitment and retention. Overcoming geographic obstacles would enable pharma to recruit participants from remote locations regardless of demographics.
- Pharmacovigilance– using remote vital signs monitoring, pharma can monitor patients’ vital signs both before and after drugs are released to the market. By integrating technologies for remote vital signs monitoring, pharma can access real-time health data on a daily or weekly basis, after consuming medication, to track patient reactions and ensure the safety of the drugs.
- Marketing and sales– using remotely collected, real-time health data, pharma can improve marketing by learning patient’s needs and providing them initial and easy access to drugs and products that cater to their needs. By integrating remote vital signs monitoring into a company app, pharma can enable patients to easily track their health status and can provide the patient with suggestions and discounts towards products that benefit the patient’s health status.
- Medication adherence: using real-time health data to gain insights into patient behaviors and adherence rates can help companies understand how to improve adherence while engaging with patients from remote locations and encouraging them to complete or prolong treatment.
Using Health Data to Move “Beyond the Pill”
A wealth of opportunity for pharma lies “beyond the pill.” Extending services from pills to platforms can enable pharma to improve outcomes and reduce costs. Creating a platform that integrates real-time health data, educates patients about their illnesses, suggests treatments and products in response to customer health status, and enables customers to monitor health alongside medication intake can enable pharma to increase touchpoints with customers, better understand their needs, and improve medication adherence.
The Impact of Covid-19 on Pharma
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digitalization process that had already been taking place. The Financial Times reports that “five years to the third quarter of 2019 a total of $1.5bn across 69 deals has been invested in companies that use AI or machine learning, and that “either sell to biopharma or have biopharma as an end-user.”
Investments in pharma’s digital technologies enabled pharma companies to develop vaccines at unprecedented rates when pressures peaked at the height of the pandemic. According to Jim Nyquist, Chairman of Systems and Software at Emerson, “digital transformation technology has been a key enabler to the development and delivery of Covid-19 vaccines at such a rapid speed.”
Furthermore, the adoption of cloud computing services and cybersecurity for remote workers provide the infrastructure necessary for remote operations to flourish and shorten the process of bringing drugs to the market, which can take an average of 13 years and €1.9bn to complete.
Covid 19 brought to light the extent to which digital technologies can increase the speed and efficiency of operations throughout pharma’s value chain. By using new tools to cut costs of equipment, using remote monitoring to speed up clinical trials and improve pharmacovigilance, and extending services from pills to platforms, pharma can improve outcomes of drugs, collect more health data to provide clients with better services and help customers find the treatments they need with greater ease and efficiency.
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