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About 14 months ago, Wuhan reported its first Covid-19 case, and soon all hell broke loose! From lockdowns to curfews and near-death experiences to close to a million lives lost to date, it’s been a nightmare. As the vaccines finally start rolling in, it’s easy to focus on all the negatives of the virus – and there have been many. But, every cloud has a silver lining, and nowhere has that been more prominent than in the Pharmaceutical industry and digital healthcare spheres.
The level of innovation in the healthcare industry over the past year or so has been exceptional. From infrastructure developments to evolving care models and the expansion of healthcare systems in developing countries, it’s a story that’ll be told for many years to come.
However, the revolutionary digital transformation remains the most significant achievement for the industry over the pandemic period. Healthcare made giant steps in digitization during Covid-19, with some experts convinced that we’re at least five years ahead of time.
The pharmaceutical industry, an integral part of healthcare, must find a way to match the success. Otherwise, all gain in the rest of healthcare could go to waste.
The sophistication of the digital tools available to pharma manufacturers continues to grow. These include smart sensors, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, to name just a few. These tools can radically change how the industry operates.
Unfortunately, digital transformations are more about a shift in mindset that a change in tools. The pharma industry’s aversion to risk, especially relating to new technology, has always held back manufacturers from making this mindset shift.
“It’s not uncommon to see a pharma company with a good amount of automation in place, to the point where they claim they have more data than they can currently use,” says Rajiv Anand, CEO Quartic.ai an AI company. However, many such organizations still live in fear of the unknown, a fear that dictates they aren’t willing to open the Pandora box just yet.
This trend needs to change if pharma is going to help healthcare, in general, attain its full digitization potential. The good news is – many pharma companies are excited to break the status quo. In one study where pharma organizations were asked whether they’d be willing to automate a plant process, 85% (the highest ever in similar surveys) said “yes.”
For pharmaceutical organizations excited by the prospect of going digital, the following are five quick tips to help you through your first steps;
As the volume of content increases globally, the way people access and process information is changing. This means that how pharma disseminates and shares information must also change. Data visualization allows organizations to share intelligent information that is tangible and accessible to a broader consumer base. For example, the organization can employ data visualization to enhance how patient data is communicated.
Healthcare professionals will continue representing the relationship between the patient and pharma for the foreseeable future. However, recent trends show that it’s possible to engage the patient directly in some instances. The main explanation for this development is increased access to healthcare resources, including information. Information access encourages patients to be more involved in their well-being, creating an opportunity for pharma to engage patients directly.
Hospitals and other health facilities, including small practices, are putting more money into virtual care and other remote care approaches. Indeed, according to a 2017 study by E-Consultancy, 74% of 500 healthcare and pharma industry respondents cited virtual care as one of the “most important” trends to watch. Pharma must follow suit by investing more in virtual care and telemedicine in general.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has brought with it an explosion in devices and platforms. In the healthcare industry alone, there are thousands of different devices (wearable or otherwise). These devices communicate across different platforms. Pharma companies serious about going digital must find ways to streamline how these devices and platforms communicate to ensure efficiency.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, pharma, like the rest of healthcare, must begin looking for ways to personalize their products and processes if the Pharmaceutical industry and digital healthcare paths have to cross at the best place. According to McKinsey, personalization will play a central role in transforming care from restricted office hours to 24/7 services. Personalization will also allow for unique patient care, customized to suit the unique needs of individual patients. Whether you choose to pursue this cause through apps that measure patients’ biophysical statistics or create multiple touchpoints throughout the patient’s duration is up to you.
The time for the Pharmaceutical industry and digital healthcare to cross paths is now. The rest of healthcare is already ahead of schedule, and if pharma continues to lag, it could reverse most of the gains already made elsewhere. Fortunately, there are several quick steps you can take to kick-start your digitization.