Three Realities That Every Life Sciences Enterprise Must Face in their Post-Pandemic Digital Transformation

  • April 29, 2022
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The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the traditional approach of life sciences companies toward digital transformation. Organizations have realized this concept does not merely entail the integration of the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence and IoT into their processes.

The key to digital transformation is the emphasis on “transformation,” specifically focusing on changing the way the entire business thinks and operates. Digital is merely a tool to enable the transformation. George Westerman reinforced this concept in this article published by MIT Sloan Management Review when he stated that the primary goal of digital transformation is to build better business models and strategies through digital solutions.

Of course, changing the way a business operates is easier said than done. In a highly competitive industry such as life sciences, where innovation and efficiency are critical to a company’s success or failure, organizations must know precisely where to transform their business to stay ahead and get the most return on investment. Here are three fundamental realities that life sciences companies must focus on to survive and thrive in the new normal.

Reality 1: Insight is the bedrock of competitive advantage in bringing new therapies to market.

One of the main changes in the life sciences industry brought about by COVID-19 is that it shifted executives' focus toward transforming their companies into a data-driven organizations. A recent survey by Vantage Partners, reported in Forbes, revealed that more than 40% of executives from some of the biggest life sciences corporations worldwide have invested in building a data-driven organization.

The idea of a data-driven organization is not merely limited to building a connected enterprise. A data-focused life sciences company should be proficient in using insights across the value chain to bring new therapies to the marketplace through an intense focus on precision medicine.

The journey toward designing precision therapies that address the right patient at the right time through the right molecular targets is founded on the ability to capture, assimilate, and analyze insights across a responsive R&D ecosystem. That system derives input from a more extensive population database, healthcare providers and biomolecular tests.

The process should aim to optimize the impact of a therapy on a gene or protein, as accounted for by real-world evidence, before finally delivering therapies to market. These therapies are based on effective clinical trial design, patient recruitment and outcomes that have a lasting impact on the molecular basis of disease.

The ability to garner insight across the discovery value chain is becoming a key differentiator among biomedical companies building therapeutic pipelines around precision medicine instead of traditional biopharmaceutical companies that adopt a shotgun approach to drug discovery.

Reality 2: Operations modernization is critical to delivering precision medicine and improving patient-centric outcomes.

The shift to the new normal across pharmaceutical and life sciences operations has led to some key measures being undertaken beyond merely digitizing operations and building a connected enterprise. According to a recent study by McKinsey, life sciences companies in the post-COVID world are invested in building a solid network strategy.

The focus of life sciences companies today is to explore shareable avenues and create a “precompetitive symbiosis” around the utilization of resources and facilities across peers, such as leveraging supply chain partners and routes to deliver therapies or engaging manufacturing sites, producing critical therapies that are in short supply due to supply chain disruptions, and building more sustainable manufacturing facilities that can be responsive in time to drive value.

For instance, life sciences companies are seeking to reorganize their supply chains and manufacturing assets to improve resilience and implement analytics and digital tools to drive agility and transparency across the company. In addition, the workplace is expected to witness a certain degree of automation to balance the remote working culture and reduced staffing of employees.

The incremental actions of life sciences companies are morphing into the design of a patient-centric supply chain and manufacturing ecosystem. In this system, the principles of flexible demand management to address therapeutic demand across patient groups have become paramount to defining the ability of a life sciences organization to sustain market leadership.

Reality 3: Transforming engagement models across life sciences ecosystems is critical to improving the experience of the healthcare customer.

Life sciences companies are eschewing the linear value chain approach for a more insights-driven engagement model with healthcare providers and patients. A recent survey by consulting firm BCG around the post-COVID engagement models of life sciences companies with healthcare providers revealed that physicians are looking for life sciences companies to engage through three fundamental behavioral shifts with the enablement of technology:

  1. Focus on data-driven personalized engagement with physicians to derive value from conversations on therapeutic efficacy.
  2. Use a rich content interface to drive engagement and effective conversations.
  3. Align with the new normal of virtual clinical visits and other ways to engage physicians virtually.

The central theme across all these behaviors is the focus on using digital tools and analytics to facilitate omnichannel engagement with physicians and patients. This process is achieved through micro-segmentation and targeting hospital catchment areas, mapping patient journeys, designing campaigns that focus on specific diseases and creating custom modular digital content.

In my next blog post, I’ll discuss how life sciences companies can reconfigure their existing technology assets into agile and insights generating collaboration enablers. In the meantime, learn more about the robust solutions that life sciences organizations can use to overcome the challenges and realities of a post-COVID industry landscape.

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Bhuvaneashwar Subramanian

Bhuvaneashwar Subramanian has more than 20 years of experience as a thought leader in the healthcare and life sciences. He has published extensively, including peer-reviewed academic articles on cloud computing in life sciences, digital health and nanobiotechnology commercialization. Bhuvaneashwar is a qualified biotechnologist and holds a master’s degree in molecular and human genetics from Banaras Hindu University India, a diploma in molecular biology from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and an MBA from Edith Cowan University Australia.

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