The pharmaceutical industry generates immense volumes of data, so it would make sense that pharma companies are ahead of the curve by leveraging the latest technologies to transform their operations across the value chain. However, historically, the pharmaceutical sector has been slow to embrace digital technologies.
In a highly regulated, high-risk environment, it is no surprise that pharma companies tend to be risk averse. A McKinsey analysis notes that “new technology often faces strong organizational barriers, such as mind-sets that resist IT change and conservative cultures that base decisions on perceived risks.”
Digital transformation, which involves implementing new technologies, talent, and processes to improve business operations and meet stakeholder needs, accelerated across the pharma industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Investments in digital innovation to ensure continued access to medications became the priority. Even those companies that had previously adopted technologies that failed to deliver the value promised needed to adopt digitally-enabled solutions to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic.
As life science companies look toward the future, it’s crucial to address the barriers to digital transformation so they can take advantage of the commercialization opportunities modern technologies have to offer.
Barriers to digital transformation
Many life science companies get bogged down by obstacles that keep them from achieving their digital transformation goals. These are the six most significant barriers:
- Business silos: Many departments and functions work in silos, which impedes digital transformation. To reap the full benefits of advanced technology, cross-functional teams need to collaborate efficiently.
- Company culture: A risk-averse culture is a significant barrier to technology adoption. A change management approach to digital transformation can help companies anticipate resistance, take steps to gain buy-in, and facilitate employee engagement.
- Lack of tech talent and resources: A lack of technical expertise and appropriate funding can undermine the adoption of emerging pharma technologies. In a Deloitte survey of biopharma companies, 78% agreed they needed new leaders, and 54% said they needed more funding to succeed in the digital age. Only 20% revealed they are developing capable leaders to help in a digital environment.
- Cybersecurity: As more companies become reliant on technology and more information moves to the cloud, data protection and security are foundational to successful technology implementation and digital transformation.
- Legacy systems: Continuing to rely on outdated legacy IT systems, particularly if they do not integrate with advanced technologies, can prevent a company from realizing the value of new digital solutions.
- Data quality: Access to timely and accurate data is essential to successfully executing technology transformation. Outdated, inaccurate information hampers informed decision-making and makes it difficult to measure progress on digital initiatives.
Opportunities for tech-enabled commercialization
From drug discovery and development to manufacturing, distribution, and fulfillment, advances in digital technology and analytics are opening opportunities at every stage of the pharmaceutical product’s life cycle. There are a plethora of commercialization opportunities for life science companies that adopt modern digital technologies, including:
- Capturing meaningful post-launch real-world data on a drug’s efficacy, safety, and adherence
- Finding new ways to support patients through their treatment journeys
- Supporting value-based contracts with payers by demonstrating the value of your brand
- Informing the drug lifecycle with deeper insights into disease progression, clinical characteristics, and outcomes
- Providing personalized and relevant clinical and educational resources to meet patients where they are
- Strengthening healthcare provider and payer engagement and relationships
- Establishing a feedback loop that connects patient experiences with specific products
- Facilitating targeted marketing campaigns
The pandemic forced life science companies to pivot to digital innovation across every aspect of operations. Now, they need to ensure their digital transformation efforts bring a competitive advantage and drive their businesses forward.
Many companies leverage external partners to support their digital initiatives for commercialization. Learn how Phi, Inc. can help you get closer to the patient with real-time visibility and control over your channels here.