When compared to other sectors, the slowest to embrace the digital revolution has been the Life Sciences sector. There are many reasons for this gradual acceptance; namely the fact that life-science companies used to look at technology as only providing basic capabilities rather than a competitive advantage. Yet, in today’s day and age – especially amid COVID-19 – everything has gone digital.
How can life-science companies embrace this transformation and enhance digital strategies through life science technology? The answer lies within adoption and opportunity.
According to McKinsey, life-science companies have a clear and defined opportunity to gain a true competitive advantage over their peers by modernizing their core technology. But first, how do we define life sciences? According to Technically, the life sciences industry encompasses hard scientific development with physical products, including pharmaceuticals, therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, and other products that are designed to treat or aid in the treatment of patients.
Almost all industry leaders, from Discovery Life Sciences to ProMedDx, understand the motivation to innovate and have started on the journey in some form. Yet, a true core-technology transformation can remain elusive.
McKinsey cites several disruptive forces that have been changing the way care is provided:
Due to these changes, incumbents need to adopt a new technology-forward strategy to compete with digital natives’ flexibility and speed. These trends have been evolving for years; as a result, many companies have started to take steps to address them such as elevating the digital agenda to the C-suite, hiring chief digital officers, and creating focused organizations to start experimenting with a list of digital use cases.
Yet, even though they have taken these measures, the sector is still not where it needs to be – completely transforming at scale. Fundamental retooling is required to unlock bold digital aspirations in modernizing core technology.
McKinsey cites ten technology plays they say are required to become a leading technology organization across three vectors:
By modernizing their core technology, life-science and pharmaceutical companies have a singular opportunity to gain a true competitive advantage over their peers. It is a well-known factor that digital maturity is associated with better business outcomes. While some of the ten plays outlined by McKinsey can already be found in life science industries, others are immature while some are emerging:
a. Play 1: using a bold, business-led vision, shape tech-forward business processes, (already found).
An ambitious vision around business priorities aligned and supported by top management embraces the idea that a true technology transformation is a never-ending journey.
b. Play 2: integrate tech management through product- and platform-centric technology organization (immature):
Product teams deliver customer-facing digital products, with ownership of end-to-end journeys, while platform teams deliver a capability that is self-contained, with a collection of talent, funding, and assets.
c. Play 3: become a steward of user experience by developing customer-centric, design-based products (emerging).
A user-centric approach leverages technology and data to eliminate the need of repeating research and follows an iterative design and prototyping approach to iterate rapidly between working prototypes, wire frames, and minimum viable products.
a. Play 4: a core way of working with joint teams consisting of business and tech members is through driving agility (already found)
Reconfigure strategy, structure, processes, people, funding, and technology quickly and efficiently toward value-creating and value-protecting opportunities, which is built on the principles of rapid iteration, dynamic people models, entrepreneurial drive, flat structures, a North Star vision, and measurable team outcomes.
b. Play 5: ensure automated platform thinking with a cloud-first mind-set (emerging)
Supported by the mindset that “automation is everything,” a well-defined platform and cloud (public and private) strategy captures value as it forms the transformation path and breaks down traditional development and operations silos.
c. Play 6: embrace engineers and doers as the heart of the organization (emerging)
Leading companies have a highly skilled workforce that has a high proportion of new digital skills. Career tracks that have a culture of autonomy and ownership encourage technical growth as well as managerial growth, along with different incentive models.
d. Play 7: create a diverse set of external partners but ensure critical roles are in house (immature)
Leverage a diverse set of partner models—traditional outsourcers, niche partners, and platform technologists. Prioritized capabilities are internalized and delivery between the partners and the organization is done with shared responsibility.
a. Play 8: simplify to a flexible and modular architecture delivered iteratively (immature)
Common patterns, designs, and practices can assist teams in quickly building new services, applications, and infrastructure, as well as modernizing legacy.
b. Play 9: harness value from data and the power of artificial intelligence (emerging)
It is important to have easy and ready access to quality and exposed data from within applications with data analytics that are enabled through a modern data platform, including unstructured storage, advanced analytics, and easy-to-use tools.
c. Play 10: create world-class cybergovernance and privacy as table stakes (pervasive)
Trained and informed frontline personnel can ensure that cyber practices are embedded into frontline activities. This means prioritizing information assets to engage business leaders and integrating cyberresilience into governance processes and enterprise-wide business.
Though pharma executives have willingly embraced technology, medical care needs to catch up to industries such as retail that have used technologies to create more personalized experiments. Due to the amount of spending that occurs in healthcare, these experiences must become more personalized to improve treatment outcomes and the patient experience while cutting waste from ineffective treatments.
According to the magazine Life Science Leader, life science executives see technology transforming physician and patient engagement by offering “beyond-the-pill” services and building loyalty.
One instance of digital life science innovations that can prove fruitful are wearable devices that provide a steady stream of data from an individual patient and a plethora of data from devices like mobile phones, smartwatches, continuous glucose monitors, and other gadgets that collect health data to create additional engagement chances. Through this decentralized approach, drugmakers can more effectively communicate with patients at all levels of medical complexity.
Further, AI will offer guidance for a more “predictive” approach to healthcare, providing a role in risk stratification for patients. Drugmakers will use risk stratification and genetic information to create more personalized medicines, making analytic and Big Data tools necessary to develop the right drugs at the right dose for the right patients. And when drugs reach the market, bots and AI can identify patients who are not adhering to treatment.
Yet, it may take more than an automated email/text message to remind a provider and patient that medications are not being used. Here, a representative may call a patient or collaborate with a pharmacist or doctor to help address why a patient is not adhering to treatment.
Social circumstances, a person’s living environment, or side effects management can present barriers to helping patients stay on treatment. Here, pharma has an opportunity to help, with technology advancing efforts for patient care.
Digital technology provides a multitude of capabilities for healthcare and life science, such as the ability to automate certain functions and the capability to take copious amounts of information to be applied to routine tasks, such as capturing prescribing patterns, clinical trial reporting, and regulatory filings. Ultimately, technology’s ability to transform healthcare’s delivery will rest upon a few key tenets shaping the industry:
· Data revolutionizes personalized medicine. Data help track and measure the quality and cost of care and can be gathered about a patient’s social circumstances and environment. For example, phones can provide effectively tailored alerts for the asthma sufferer on a day with a high pollen count.
· Cloud migration. Cloud migration has allowed CIOs and CTOs to become more driven on how data and technology support the business, with most enterprise resource planning software being cloud-based, allowing for greater scalability and less maintenance for the array of applications used by businesses.
· Pay for performance. This trend is still emerging in healthcare and pharma. However, via advanced analytics, a new drug that costs exponentially more than a low-cost generic drug needs to show a business case about why it should be on a payer’s formulary.
· Regulatory affairs are as important as ever. In 2023, pharmacies, drugmakers, and wholesalers, will need to be able to have track and trace capabilities on medications throughout supply chains. Cybersecurity is also needed to protect patient information to prevent HIPAA violations.
There is no better time for the Life Science industry to innovate. To assist with this venture, Stefanini has partnered with CliniOps to release a new platform, called TRUST, which is aimed at helping medical researchers digitize and automate trials from the study building phase to support decentralized, virtual and hybrid trial capabilities. Is your life-science company looking to apply digital technologies to help expedite processes? Learn more by visiting Life Science and Health page or speaking with an expert today.
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