The healthcare industry is actively exploring solutions to enhance efficiency across the value chain — from R&D to sales. Digital data capture, AI, machine learning, mobile health, automation and robotics are some terms that have become part of the common vocabulary in the healthcare ecosystem, and decision-makers are increasingly using these options. Let’s discuss how such technologies are being explored by leading players in the industry.
In the drug discovery phase, machine learning, AI and cloud computing are being explored to transform the drug discovery process. A recent example is Boehringer Ingelheim partnering with Bactevo in 2018 to generate novel small molecule compounds by using the Totally Integrated Medicines Engine (TIME) platform.
eClinical Solutions Gaining Popularity
In clinical trials, eClinical solutions are increasingly gaining popularity. Products such as electronic data capture (EDC), clinical trial management systems (CTMS), randomization and trial supply management systems (RTMS), and electronic clinical outcome assessment (ECOA) have transformed clinical trials and have been adopted widely. Many vendors are offering cloud-based, innovative solutions to address the remaining pain points in clinical trials such as site selection, patient recruitment and compliance. Some examples are: goBalto, provider of a cloud-based study startup software, and TrialScope, which offers cloud-based solutions for clinical trial transparency and compliance. In clinical trials, the market is increasingly seeking solutions that can enable faster execution of studies, increasing productivity, cost reduction and better compliance, which, in turn, is driving the need for unified solutions in the market. Examples of such unified deals are Pfizer’s selection of Oracle, and Bristol-Myers Squibb & Boehringer Ingelheim opting for unified solutions from Medidata.
In the manufacturing space, Industry 4.0 is the buzzword. The underlying framework for this buzzword is automation, connectivity and modularization. Some examples are: Merck partnering with Siemens to develop modular manufacturing plants that can quickly produce smaller batches of medicines; and Pfizer investing in continuous manufacturing technology (CMT), which is built upon IT and automation capabilities to achieve faster and flexible production.
Digital Sales Enablement Solutions Seeing Uptake
In sales and marketing, digital sales enablement solutions are the need of the hour as sales representatives’ physical access to healthcare professionals (HCP) declines. Pharma is increasingly looking to enhance the efficiency of its sales force using a mix of both personal and digital touch. Promotional emails, KOL webinars, HCP portals, explainer videos and tablets are some of the tools used by pharma. In this space, pharma organizations are also exploring the option of using contract sales force organizations. Let’s take an example of the Augmented Reality iPad app created by DelphianLogic for a pharma client, which replaced the physical brochure with 3D models of the drug molecule; one-minute videos for the Mechanism of Action and congress updates of the drug. Considering such developments, remote/virtual meetings with innovative digital tools will be the way forward for interaction among the sales rep and HCP in future.
Digital is the way forward in the healthcare industry, which is reeling from intense competition, astronomical costs of R&D, shift of revenue model toward pay for value/performance and obsolescence of the physical interaction model to influence healthcare professionals.