Digitisation of Pharma

October 4, 2018

Analysts have predicted that by 2020 one third of the growth experienced in the Pharmaceutical market will be fuelled by digitisation. Even organisations that only partially adapt to digital tools can drive improvements in their business models resulting in as much as 27% more profit. The front runners will be organisations that address new markets as well as incorporating digital into all aspects of their business models with an estimated growth factor of over 40%.

Supply Chain

Supply chain management can be transformed by implementing 'big data' analysis to accurately predict demand. The latest customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools are demonstrating the way data can have a real impact on business processes.  Pharmaceutical and biotech companies are continually seeking better solutions for flexible forecasting of sales and production pipelines and this is where digital innovations such as cloud storage can be used to create a flexible supply chain as well as using the data gathered to make accurate predictions.

AI in drug discovery

There has already been a significant increase in the number of biopharmaceutical companies using AI algorithms to analyze large sets of data for preclinical studies, genetic profiles, clincial trials and health records. Using AI allows patterns and trends within the data to be identified and hypothesis to be developed at a much faster rate than using traditional methods.


As work processes are constantly reinvented by technology, employees will also need to adapt to new work environments and teams by taking on new skills. The organisation will need to take responsibility for these training requirements and in some cases predict the skills that individuals may need.

As well as preparing current employees for new digital and analytical skills there will also be a demand for basic human skills such as creativity, imagination, social and emotional intelligence with as much as 30% of high paying jobs predicted to require these essential human skills. The biggest challenge for pharma will be competing for the most desirable talent and in-demand skills across industries..

Connected Health & Cybersecurity 

Although there are many benefits to the digital innovations that drive rapid growth, there are also complex cyber risks which can have huge physical impacts and financial detriment. These risks are even higher for life sciences organisations due to the sensitive nature of information collected on patients, intellectual property, organisational assets and much more.

IT teams need to be extremely vigilant in ensuring the safety of networks by deploying patch updates and training employees on potential suspicious or fraudulent activities. Life science leaders can also help to drive this message through all business areas by implementing 'security by design' where possible. This is especially important in the area of wearables and connected health where manufacturers are conducting thorough security-risk assessments before deploying devices. This is a step in the right direction however staying ahead of adversaries in the connected medical landscape will require more than security by design, a continuous effort to identify, asses and remediate risks will need to be undertaken.

Patient Centricity

Embracing digital technology is an essential way for life sciences organisations to increase patient centricity in their development process. Social media, wearables and connected devices have already impacted the way in which patients engage in clinical trials. This is even more evident in the development of personalised drugs for rare diseases or smaller patient populations to monitor and manage patient adherence and health outcomes.

Patients are being engaged earlier on in the development process to allow for a more in-depth understanding of their needs and to allow for adjustments in the design of trials accordingly, this will ultimately result in better patient recruitment and resilience. This process can benefit pharmaceutical companies in the long term as data suggests that when products and services better meet patient needs as well as improve treatment regimens there is a higher rate of acceptance from payers and regulators.