Information technology in the age of precision medicine

Be the disruptor or get disrupted

The escalating rate of disruption and evolving consumerization have been transforming the way industries are innovating to deliver services to their consumers. Poised at a similar intersection of innovation, emerging tech and need for new business models, traditional pharma companies are ready to make the journey into the transformative space of technology. The chief orchestrators of this paradigm shift are the patients who are now ready to play a bigger role in their treatment process, changing payer attitude(s), emerging hybrid insurance model(s) and digital technology.  

Ongoing data and digital revolution leave no room for episodic, unconnected and one-size-fits-all model. While even the biggest pharma companies have done everything from R&D to commercialisation themselves, it’s now time to reorganise out of silos and into a more cross-functional approach. 

A recent PWC report, ‘Pharma 2020’, reiterates that business models covering the entire value chain will no longer work for organisations: They rather collaborate with providers and democratise the product life cycle chain to increase productivity and reduce costs.1

Let’s take a look at some of the trends that will play a The rising demand for quality healthcare at reduced prices:  

  • Government(s), insurance providers, hospitals and patients continue to exercise a downward pressure on pricing of drugs.  
  • The need for strategic alliances to keep the market share as no pharma company can profit alone.1 A collaborative industry can profit together by joining forces with academic institutions, hospitals, healthcare payers, technology companies, laboratories and patients.  

  • The constant pressure by data and digital technology on pharma and medicine providers to provide pre-emptive treatment and cure. Technology is shaping more informed patients than ever before who seek personalised care/therapies rather than mere treatments.  

  • The changing competitive landscape with tech giants like Apple and Google entering the space with their adept capabilities in analytics, along with some nimble start-ups.  

It’s clear that modern technology is accelerating this disruption, fuelled by continuous data collection off our activities, body, nutrition, etc. Today, more than 75% patients are keen to use digital healthcare services, if these services provide quality care.2 Hence, to be future-ready, digital channels will have to be embedded in a well-thought manner.  
Modern technology is playing a key role in pharma

Known as stragglers at adopting new technologies, pharma companies are realising the need to turn digital and unlock the value of data. They’ve been investing heavily to make inroads into digital health.  

  • Digital Technologies: Big Data and artificial intelligence (AI) have accelerated the drug discovery and development process. Pharma giants are partnering heavily with technology enablers to come up with IT applications that accelerate drug manufacturing and partner with patients to provide personalised therapy.  

  • Digital Healthcare Applications: These apps store real time, updated patient health data, which is a key raw material for pharma companies to develop precision medicine.  

  • Commercial IT Applications: Apps around drug delivery, supply chain and logistics, sales etc. have revolutionised the field of bio-genetics, thereby giving a huge push to personalised and precision medicine. Soon, swallowing a commercial off the counter pill would be a thing of the past and be replaced with a precise genome based molecular therapy personalised to a patient’s profile.  

  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): Within HR-IT, AR and VR-based learning applications are helping researchers and scientists simulate remote lab like conditions for drug discovery, training, simulation and development. Technology here helps transcends physicality and creates virtual labs.  

Investing in technology is critical than ever before

As the industry moves in a direction, where healthcare and medicine need to be more predictive, preventative, personalised and participatory, it becomes essential to unlock the value of data. Its data and insights that will democratise diagnostic sciences and personalise care.  

Big Pharma companies can continue to be pioneers in their field by transforming and adapting to the modern age technology that provides them both the data and the digital where-withal.  

Craig Venter, the internationally renowned scientist behind the Human Genome Project and Head of Human Longevity Inc. states that data will fundamentally transform the way medicine is classified as a science, explaining:  

“Medicine has been a clinical science, supported by data. Medicine is about to become a data science, supported by clinicians.”

While a pathologist, biologist and pharmacist have always been involved in improving the health and safety of patients; a disruptive technologist has now risen, found his footing and revolutionised this industry!   

Exciting times ahead!  

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