The increasing pace of technological change, greater expectations from healthcare professionals, patients, and other stakeholders together make a strong case for a digital revolution in the pharmaceutical industry
Digital technologies have been changing business models everywhere in ways we could once merely imagine – and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception.
This vital industry is among Britain’s leading manufacturing sectors. According to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), the value of UK pharmaceutical exports in 2013 was £21.3bn. To boot, two of the world’s most successful pharmaceutical companies are British. However, after a long period of strong US market dominance, the UK, and Europe as a whole are facing increasing competition from emerging economies including China, Brazil and India. In this tough operating environment, the industry is undergoing a very necessary digital revolution.
The Internet of Things is set to have a hugely beneficial impact on the healthcare industry as a whole. Patients have already begun using smart medical devices for connected monitoring. And with thousands of healthcare apps for mobile phones already in use globally, the healthcare sector of tomorrow is already beginning to take shape.
M-health or connected health has already won the hearts and minds of public and private sector healthcare executives, who for the most part, believe the innovation will have a positive impact on public health in the future. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s study Power to the Patient: How mobile technology is transforming healthcare, the benefits include reduced medical costs, effective approaches to reducing the impact of epidemics and pandemics and lower costs for institutions.
With more than five billion mobile phones in use around the world, one can begin to imagine the possibilities. Published earlier this year, the EIU’s report says there are already 40,000 healthcare apps for mobile phones. This development is regarded by Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer at Samsung Electronics, as a “revolution in health”.
Used in the right way, major benefits can be derived through the more prevalent use of electronic medical records and marketing – not to mention the natural boost to health research in general.
A study carried out by Accenture corroborates this. It says chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) in the pharmaceutical industry have an opportunity to optimise the impact of digital technologies through closer alignment. The report promotes the integration of customer/patient-focused skills, and a refocusing of the IT agenda to empower marketing to exploit digital technologies.
Anne O’Riordan, senior managing director of Accenture’s Life Sciences industry group, says: “The reasons for the difference include traditional structures, cultures and sales representative-led commercial models. The industry faces a period of rapid change marked by digital advances, new expectations from healthcare professionals and patients, and a dominant outcomes-based reimbursement environment. This requires CMOCIO collaboration to increase as patients and healthcare providers move more aggressively into the digital world.”
Accenture’s study, The Rising Opportunity for CMO and CIO Collaboration in the Pharmaceutical Industry, shows that more than nine out of ten large pharmaceutical company CIOs believe that their companies are in need of greater marketing/ IT alignment.
That said, fewer than two out of three pharmaceutical CMOs agreed with that statement – a discrepancy of thirty three percent. This lack of commonality is also reflected in a discordant vision for technology in the pharmaceutical industry – something that will need to be overcome if the benefits are to be truly reaped.
Finally, no debate about the value of digital technologies and transformation would be complete without a conversation about the ubiquitous risk of data breach, and with privacy an understandably major concern in pharmaceuticals and healthcare generally, no one would dispute the value of proportionate data security management.
All these factors contribute to a complex landscape for the sector – with a great many exciting possibilities and opportunities for change.
Navigating these complexities will require new dynamics in risk monitoring, as each development changes the course of the industry. And as it begins to embrace digital technologies, the pharmaceutical industry will be increasingly well equipped to remain relevant to patients and physicians – tomorrow and in the future.
All these factors contribute to a complex landscape for the sector – with a great many exciting possibilities and opportunities for change. Navigating these complexities will require new dynamics in risk monitoring, as each development changes the course of the industry. And as it begins to embrace digital technologies, the pharmaceutical industry will be increasingly well equipped to remain relevant to consumers of products and services, patients and physicians tomorrow and in the future.