The global pharmaceuticals market is worth US$300 billion a year, a figure expected to rise to US$1.3trillion within three years. The 10 largest drugs companies control over one-third of this market, several with sales of more than US$10 billion a year on a 30% profit margin is no secret that drug makers have been taking a battering in recent years on the back of price cuts, increased competition and R&D productivity issues.
Pharma Organisations have started looking inwards to enhance their internal processes and also looking towards technology as an enablement to help drive their business initiative to beat competition and improve their business profits.
Companies have started looking at Cloud, Social Media, Mobile applications and other new emerging technologies (Internet of Things, Big Data, and Data Science) to help them in this endeavor.
Listed below are some of the current technological trends that are aiding the Pharma business to achieve their goals.
1) Mobile Technology and Apps: Mobile technology and apps have brought the Pharma industry, practitioners and patients/consumers closer. This was a challenge earlier as the reach of the organizations were limited and relied on practitioners for information on what patients were looking for.
Now, through technology, life sciences companies can communicate with patients to understand their challenges, concerns and treatment options. Information now easily available than the traditional methods used and can help in bringing products faster into the market based on the data available.
Technology can help collect patient data in real time: For example, a monitor that could detect erratic heartbeats and send that information to a smartphone. The devices then could “talk” and make an emergency call to a healthcare provider.
Example of Practo: Practo Ray is online medical practice management software that provides doctors with appointment scheduler and electronic medical record services, prescriptions along with billing, IVR telephony and other healthcare management services. Users gain access to this software on the purchase of a subscription, Practo has more than 70000 users who use internet and Practo app to help in their health needs and medical support.
2) Big Data and Data Science for new value: Big Data and Data Science are being used for value additions and trends.” Companies are using customer data for the following: improve drug development , also understand health data based on the health data the treatments are being planned by the Pharma companies and practitioner
Example of Big Data by Medivo: Medivo has consolidated data from some 4,000 patient service centers, covering 176,000 physicians and more than 50 million patients. The sheer scale of data they are accumulating on a daily basis is extraordinary. “Every time we add a doctor, we add one gigabyte of data per year.” So, with 176,000 doctors and five years of data for each doctor, Medivo is currently managing a data pool of 8.8 terabytes.
3) Social Media and Pharma: Social Media has been helped this industry grows in leap and bounds .Many healthcare providers already have made significant strides in using social media themselves. They’re connecting with patients through web portals, blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
Example of Pharma Gets Social: Pharma companies have started using social media (Facebook, twitter) as a marketing tool , create awareness and education to a larger audience on healthier living, they are using various social platform for also promoting health business (example of some of them are described below)
4) Pharma in the Cloud: Pharmaceutical companies are using the cloud to reduce costs and improve business functions. Software as a Service or SaaS, Platform as a Service, or PaaS, has the best applicability in life sciences, Veeva and Salesforce have contributed largely in the CRM space to drive the Cloud agenda, organizations have adopted these SaaS products to help reduce their operating cost and thus increase their bottom-line.
Example of How Pharma companies are using Cloud: Amazon Virtual Private Cloud is being used to provide a secure environment for Pfizer to provide additional computing resources to its dedicated high performance computing (HPC) software and systems used for worldwide research and development (WRD)
5) Internet of Things (IOT) in Pharma: Internet has been a game changer and bringing the Consumers and Pharma companies closer than before, the numbers of connected devices already stands at 1.9 billion today, and numbers are expected to rise to 9 billion by 2018, creating an industry worth trillions in value.
Some recent developments in the Mobile and Internet space in Pharma
Recently developed Internet mobile applications to track patient’s health along with the prescription drugs that they need to use
- Eli Lilly’s MDLinx – The iPhone app shows how to administer Lilly’s Glucagon for Injection to Type 1 diabetes sufferers.
- AstraZeneca’s GRACE 2.0- Healthcare providers can use GRACE 2.0 to identify high-risk heart patients
- Janssen’s Care4Today- The app can now send alerts to family members when someone doesn’t take their medicines.
- Sanofi Go Meals- Helps you identify the calories consumed, activities performed etc.
Pharma Gartner Hype Cycle
As per the below Gartner Hype Cycle Internet of Things has moved to the “Peak of Inflated expectations” and Big Data has moved down the “Trough of disillusionment”, This gives us the signs of things to come in the future with IOT becoming an integral part of the customers ,business partners and IT landscape
Cloud computing also remains in focus as per Gartner and continues to enjoy a good market share in the Pharma Sector
A new entrant to the Hype Cycle is Data Science; this is related to the dealing with the data rather than any technological inclination. Big Data will remain in the plateau and play a crucial role for the coming years as Data is playing a crucial role in this Sector.
Big Data along with Data Science the Future of Pharma in the Coming years:
Big Data is changing the phase of Pharma .Described below is an example of how data is collected using wearing devices and other digital devices, the second diagram in the right shows how the Big Data will help healthcare in understanding their patients better, better record management and also aid the decision making process of the various treatments to be carried out.
What is in Store for us as IT Vendors?
According to health care information and technology company IMS Health, total pharmaceutical spending around the globe is expected to reach $1.3 trillion in just three years’ time, the increase is about 30% compared to the spends being made in 2013
North America continues to top the growth story due to the economic recovery in the US, Europe will see limited growth due to weak economic growth and reduced health care and drug spend, Asia/Australia will see huge growth in Pharma spend with rising incomes and improved healthcare.
Huge Spends will happen in the area of BigData and Data science. The pharmaceutical sector would want to use the emerging technologies to help drive the business, Mobile Applications, Wearable devices and Digital Biomarkers are leading the pack in collecting Huge Data on patient’s health, below example shows the untapped potential for devices and apps from a Pharma point of view.
Companies not going Digital by 2025 will find the going tough and unlikely to exist; IT Vendors should cash in this digital revolution and aid the transformation for the Pharma companies to help co-exist in this revolution.