Opportunities for Digitalization in Pharma & Life Sciences
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Sep 27th, 2022
Opportunities for Digitalization in Pharma & Life Sciences 

Digital technologies are rapidly changing the DNA of the life sciences & healthcare sectors leading to making digitalization essential for organizations to succeed in a dynamic business environment.  

This blog explores the problems and opportunities organizations encounter as they transition from just doing to being digital in the life sciences & healthcare sectors. 

Embrace Digital Opportunities  

While many organizations in the life sciences sector have been looking into the possibilities that digital technologies can present, many have not yet taken systematic, continuous, and ambitious steps to benefit from the new capabilities. Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review’s fourth annual study on digital maturity shows only around 20% of biopharma enterprises have reached a mature digital stage¹. The way firms apply digital, scale learnings, collaborate, and support change differs from those in the earlier stages of digital maturity. More technologically advanced businesses also roll out digital projects gradually, starting with trial programmes and scaling up carefully after learning from their mistakes. 

Organizations have voluminous collections of unstructured physical and digital documents such as low-resolution PDFs, scanned documents, images, excel files, word files, emails, voice notes, and flat files that contain business data, operational data, healthcare records, clinical data, research data, manufacturing data, sales, and commercial data. 

Digitalization will offer opportunities to execute efficiently, engage effectively, and innovate new products and services. It will aid in streamlining procedures to increase effectiveness and reduce prices and in creating a digital culture that opens new perspectives and capabilities. Further using digitized data and cutting-edge platforms, organizations can stimulate the development of new products, services, and business models to create value for their customers.  

Here are outline examples of potential digitalization opportunities across functional areas in the life sciences sector:

  1. 1. Drug Discovery 

Transforming conventional human-led scientific methods by incorporating artificial intelligence into research processes would enable researchers to analyse molecular structures more quickly and identify potential molecules. 

Research scientists reported that their organisations are now making investments in AI (81%) and cloud (71%), according to a survey². Additionally, research professionals see the key value levers that may be realised through digital innovation as increasing research efficiency (95%), lowering drug development costs (76%), and increasing pipeline diversification (67%).

  1. 2. Drug Development 

Giving study deliverables more digital agility by redefining their nature from static papers that must be rewritten for each trial to living collections of digital pieces that may be constructed and disassembled in accordance with trial requirements. 

According to a survey³ report, pharmaceutical organizations are now prioritising cloud expenditures (80%) and AI investments (76%), both of which are important for the development of new drugs. The main value levers that clinical leaders believe may be realised through digital innovation are shorter time to market (76%), shorter time to evaluate data (65%), and lower study execution costs (57%).

  1. 3. Manufacturing 

Productize and scale digital innovation by moving away from decentralized digitalization initiatives and treating it as an internal engineering challenge, and by utilizing external resources through ecosystems and alliances to standardize digital innovation across manufacturing locations. 

Building smart factories necessitates not just allowing digital advancements but also changing the infrastructure and culture within the manufacturing organisation, according to a study⁴ on the biopharma factory of the future. The primary value levers identified by factory executives as being delivered through digital innovation include improving asset efficiency (100%), yield rates (67%), and safety and sustainability (50%).

  1. 4. Supply Chain 

By establishing connection with other processes and removing the silos that once separated supply chain operations, it is possible to coordinate business planning and decision-making for increasing organizational resilience. 

76% of the supply chain leaders who participated in a study⁵ said that their companies are already prioritising AI investments and are likely to do so in the future. Less than 50%, however, believe that over the next five years, investments in IoT and data lakes—which are probably crucial for improving supply chain visibility—should take precedence. Lowering customer cycle time (67%), decreasing lead times (57%), and enhancing delivery time accuracy (52%), are the main value levers achieved through digital technology investments according to supply chain professionals.

  1. 5. Commercial  

Sensing market dynamics proactively by deviating from a retrospective knowledge of factors like competition, patient perception, and marketing effect and towards a predictive strategy based on continuous learning. 

According to a survey⁶ findings, most businesses are currently prioritising cloud computing (68%) and AI (82%) investments, in order to lay the groundwork for precision experiences. Leaders in this domain who were surveyed feel that digital technology has the potential to expand access channels (64%), boost customer conversion (76%), and raise marketing and sales performance by (80%). 

The Digital Front-Door of Pharmaceuticals 

Currently, it takes 13 years and an average of €1.9 billion to bring a medicine to market, according to research⁷ in the Journal of Health Economics. But pharmaceutical companies hope to accelerate the process of drug discovery by accessing enormous amounts of data with the aid of AI and other technologies and hope to reduce the length of the clinical trial cycle.

Many leading corporations have acknowledged the significance of digitization. According to an article⁸ in Financial Times, a group of 10 companies, including Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and GSK, have joined forces to exchange priceless data using a safe, blockchain-based system that enables their machine learning algorithms for drug discovery to explore each other’s data without revealing trade secrets. They believe that the AI-driven collaboration may hasten the laborious and expensive process of identifying novel drugs by anticipating how molecules would behave.

The statistics in an article⁹ by Pharmaceutical Technology also shed light on the biggest industry innovators.

Recently, Pfizer Inc. led the pharmaceutical industry in digitalization innovation. The firm, which has its headquarters in the United States, submitted 72 patents relating to digitalization. This increased from 66 over the same time period in 2021. 

Johnson & Johnson of the United States, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. of Switzerland, and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. of the United States followed with 57 digitalization patent applications. 

The data is compiled by GlobalData¹⁰, who keeps track of patent applications and grants from international offices. One of the main areas monitored by GlobalData is digitalization.

Life sciences organizations are now working with both well-established and young digital businesses, and they recognize the advantages of taking part in larger health ecosystems.  

It is now vital for them to build the digital skills they will need, make the financial expenditures required to harness the wealth of data, and join the rapidly developing digital ecosystems that have the potential to significantly improve healthcare. 

About us:

Datafoundry was founded in 2016 with the goal of simplifying data-driven business operations, by making data more accessible and easier to extract insights. We provide automation and digital transformation solutions for the life sciences and healthcare industry. Our team comprises of domain experts, data scientists and AI/ML innovators focusing on insights and automations for better health outcomes. Our flagship product DF mSafety AI won India’s most prestigious AI award recently for Life Sciences. Team Datafoundry takes pride in enabling our customers to succeed – in a faster, compliant, scalable and secure manner. 

References :

1. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/be/Documents/life-sciences-health-care/DI_CHS-MIT-survey.pdf
2. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/articles/us-164996-chs-ife-sciences-digital-innovation/figures/US164996_Figure6.jpg
3. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/articles/us-164996-chs-ife-sciences-digital-innovation/figures/US164996_Figure8.jpg
4. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/life-sciences-health-care/us-lshc-smart-factory-pov.pdf
5. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/articles/us-164996-chs-ife-sciences-digital-innovation/figures/US164996_Figure12.jpg
6. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/articles/us-164996-chs-ife-sciences-digital-innovation/figures/US164996_Figure14.jpg
7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167629616000291?via%3Dihub
8. https://www.ft.com/content/ef7be832-86d0-11e9-a028-86cea8523dc2
9. https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/dashboards/digitalization-innovation-among-pharma-companies-has-dropped-off-in-recent-times/
10. https://www.globaldata.com/

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