Digital Trends in Life Sciences

Digital Trends in Life Science

The pharmaceuticals and life sciences industries have made tremendous strides advancing patient care and improving outcomes, but consider how much more could be possible through digital transformation. As new therapies focus on ways to target individual patient needs, it creates opportunity to develop, commercialize and customize these “products” in ways that are highly efficient.

More importantly, digital transformation enables greater transparency and “product” quality, further enhancing patient care. It’s these inventive digital trends, made possible through digital transformation, that are underscored as priorities for life sciences leaders, according to a study by Forrester, commissioned by SAP. I see

4 Emerging Trends in Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences,

each highly dependent on successful digital transformation and indicative of the disruption and evolution taking place in this industry:

1. Empowering patients

Today’s patients are more focused on maintaining wellness and taking an active part in their healthcare. With information on prevention and treatment options readily available via internet search, patients are educating themselves and demanding care plans that will deliver the best outcomes.

Digital trends among pharmaceutical and life sciences companies include shifting from operations that mass-produce drugs to producing personalized therapies. Innovators in the life sciences industry are using data from individual patients to develop medications and treatments. Advancements in the immunotherapy space, for example, allow pharmaceutical companies to produce a batch of medication designed to address the unique needs of a patient and increase the chances of better outcomes.

Life sciences companies are implementing technology that enables them to integrate patient data into their processes and create efficient and agile processes that enable customization at acceptable price points.

2. Powering ecosystems with big data

Businesses in the life science industry can only continue to produce medicines and therapies if they are able to operate efficiently and control costs. Digital trends in the life sciences space include building connected supply chain networks that enable collaboration and scheduling that helps companies meet demands for the solutions their customers and patients need, when they need them.

Digital transformation will benefit companies with new capabilities such as direct shipments from suppliers to customers and patients via B2B/B2C models along with distributing through standard channels like wholesalers and full visibility into the supply chain and inventory.

3. Automating and transitioning to new business models

SAP customers in the life sciences industry are doing more than delivering new and personalized therapies. They’re also reimagining their businesses. The IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2018 Predictions, states that the majority of life sciences companies — approximately 90 percent — will leverage data by 2020 to create new revenue streams, including Data-as-a-Service, selling raw data, insights, and recommendations. In addition, by 2022, 30 percent will use innovative marketplaces for on-demand services that improve margin by 5 percent.

Digital trends in the pharmaceuticals and life sciences industry are also enabling companies to automate their operations. More than one-third of manufacturers in our study plan to automate at least 50 percent of their processes by 2022.

4. Ensuring product quality and authenticity

Digital transformation can also provide pharmaceuticals and life sciences companies to implement more efficient methods of quality control. Technology can monitor and control quantities, time, temperature, and other cold chain logistics supply chain parameters with precision and consistency. Tech solutions can also expedite documentation and meet and adapt to regulatory compliance requirements with agility.

Additionally, digital trends in the life sciences space include taking measures to fight back against the global problem of counterfeit raw materials and medications. Digital transformation is providing companies with the ability to serializing drugs and devices with unique identification and track and trace materials and products to ensure they are authentic.

The Prescription for the Future

Our study revealed that top-performing companies are widening the gap with the rest of the field by adopting new technologies to deliver in-demand products and services efficiently. Digital trends in life sciences leverage technologies, including:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML): This technology can predict outcomes based on data, perform repetitive tasks, and shed light on how the drugs and device business process can be enhanced
  • Internet of Things: IoT, combined with AI and ML, can indicate when equipment requires maintenance, alert operators to product quality issues, and monitor cold chain processes to minimize waste
  • Blockchain: Distributed digital networks enable creating unalterable transaction data, which can be a valuable tool for proving authenticity and building trust across SC
  • Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR): VR enables simulations, and AR can overlay digital content on the real world, assisting with equipment maintenance or other complex tasks.
  • Conversational AI: ML algorithms can understand spoken language, allowing companies to automate after-service or call centers.
  • Robotic process automation (RPA): This technology can automate manual, rule-based tasks, increasing consistent processes, and reducing costs.

Digital Trends with a Higher Purpose

Using the goal of finding the best possible treatment for each patient, life sciences businesses are advancing their digital transformation to create next-generation processes characterized by agility, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Mastering digital trends in this industry has become a factor in competitiveness. Businesses that achieve this goal will have the ability to meet new customer and patient demands and dominate their markets.

Download SAP’s white paper to read the full results the SAP study on intelligent operations in life sciences conducted by Forrester Research

Download the white paper

– written by Mandar Paralkar, Life Sciences Industry Director at SAP, Digital Innovation

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