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Digitalization in the Pharma Industry

The advancement of technology such as cloud computing, smart mobile communications, advanced analytics, and the seamless access of Internet on various electronic devices have started transforming the healthcare industry in ways it was never imagined. This transformation is affecting the product lifecycle starting from drug development to delivery and finally patient care. Some examples in healthcare are as follows:

Improvement in patient outcomes: Wearable devices have become ubiquitous for real-time monitoring of symptoms and medication management. Such devices help improve adherence rates and, in turn, health-related quality of life. Eg, Kinesia 360TM is a wireless patient-worn sensor that is coupled with a mobile app to monitor patients with Parkinson’s disease.

HCPs make informed decisions: Tracking a patient’s history, who is under the care of multiple doctors, could be problematic when relying on paper charts. The use of electronic health records (EHRs) now allows multiple caregivers, regardless of their locations, to simultaneously access a patient’s record from their devices and deliver appropriate care to patients.

Availability of patient care data for payers and policymakers: Sensors and connectivity technologies can now be coupled with medical devices such as inhalers and insulin pens to collect patient data between physician visits. In recent times, such data have become critical for pharma companies to demonstrate the value of their drugs in the real-world setting. By showcasing evidence, pharma companies negotiate with payers and policymakers for better formulary placement and premium pricing of their drugs.

Efficient clinical trial data management: Pharma companies are increasingly using smart technology platforms in clinical trials. Recently Cognizant partnered with Biogen to provide SmartTrials, a clinical trial data management suite to facilitate communications and allow easier decision-making during the course of clinical trials

Efficient disease diagnosis: Big biotech firms are being seen partnering with IT firms to enhance R&D outputs by using digital tools. Novartis collaborated with Microsoft to develop a therapy assessment tool, Assess MS, which is a computer vision system capturing patient movements for better diagnosis.

Digital technologies have transformed many industries and is similarly changing every aspect of the way healthcare is delivered.  It’s time to think “Beyond the Pill.”

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Shilpa Lalwani

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