How Pharma can stay competitive in the digital world
The Pharmaceutical industry is working hard to keep up with changes in digital technology to revolutionise healthcare. The cloud, advanced analytics and mobile communication are just a few innovations that have transformed the healthcare industry. The key issue that Pharma companies face are what initiatives are going to be put in place to achieve digitisation. To be successful, each company will need to consider how its business will be affected to the changes underway. With greater understanding comes greater innovation, along with a model for Pharma companies to ensure better healthcare for their patients.
Trends that have reformed Pharma into the digital world:
1. Smarter Devices
Through sensors, an abundance of apps and smarter devices, patients have the ability to have greater control of their health. ‘They feel empowered by the vast amount of health information available online and on apps, and by the array of health and fitness wearables such as Fit Bit and Apple Watch’ (McKinsey & Company, 2015). In a survey conducted by Ipsos, two-thirds of people believe that they are able to make executive decisions on their health and well-being. The fact Pharma companies have the capability of engaging with their patients digitally is the first step of success.
Tech giants such as IBM and Apple are encroaching into the healthcare industries. Through health and fitness apps available to online communities, these companies are able to engage with patients as well as have the ability to collect electronic medical records to gain extensive insight of a patient’s health. For example, Apple and IBM are using highly specialised analytics in order to deliver clinical decision support for their new health kit app. Pharma companies have had to reposition and rethink their strategies to compete with the influx of new competition to companies not primarily in the healthcare industry.
3. Outcomes-based care is becoming a priority
The main objective for the government is to provide a better outcome for patients whilst managing their costs. In turn, a greater pressure is placed on Pharma companies to shift from ‘off the pills’ solutions to a more digital approach. This is driving Pharma companies to demonstrate that they have the capability of providing better care for patients. Therefore, the use of sensors is used to collate and analyse data of a patient’s condition between their visits to healthcare providers. This eases the pressure for the government as Pharma companies are able to demonstrate their drugs are of ‘superior efficacy’ (McKinsey & Company, 2015).
4. Augmented and Virtual Reality
There has been a lot of hype around augmented and virtual reality. With products such as Oculus Rift, Google’s digital contact lens and Microsoft’s Honolens making their way onto the market, Pharma companies can use this to help patients to visualise how the drug works rather than reading the descriptions on the bottles.
Strategies to succeed:
1. Experiment and take risks
According to Dr Krishna Yeshwant of Google Ventures, Pharma companies should be pushing themselves to create more user friendly devices or user interfaces to meet consumer expectations. To achieve this, Pharma companies should be taking risks to stay ahead of healthcare digitisation and avoid slow advances and a lack of innovation (Dan Goldsmith, Veeva Systems)
2. Taking a collaborative approach
Some Pharma companies have already recognised the need to collaborate by supporting and sharing data and ideas. Kristy Junio, Senior Director of Healthcare & Life Sciences for Oracle Marketing Cloud Industry Solutions proposes that Pharma companies need to be able to build a mutual trust with their consumers and using technology is one way of achieving this.
Digital healthcare is still in its early stages with definite improvement needed for the future. However, there have been significant changes and improvements through enhanced communication with patients and the way Pharma companies manage their businesses. If Pharma companies want to succeed in the future, digital healthcare must be the forefront to drive companies to stay ahead of the competition and inevitably make bold decisions. The successful ones will transform their business models and adopt more advanced, long term strategies in order to stay competitive.