For the Life Sciences industry, ‘COVID-19 has created profound disruptions across communities, patients, and clinicians. The need to work remotely during the pandemic and the limits placed on face-to-face contact have forced physicians to increase the use of digital channels- a paradigm shift many thought would take years. The clinical and product development development “engine” has also experienced profound disruption as professionals adjust to remote work environments. And clinical trials are being severely affected with disruptions in both new enrollment and in keeping existing patients on therapies.’ This is according to the latest research from global advisory firm, Mckinsey.
The firm commissioned a survey in April, 2020 among 300 R&D functional leaders, including chief medical officers (CMOs), from over 50 global companies in the Life Sciences sector, to “explore the implications of COVID-19 and identify the imperatives that leaders should consider in responding to the pandemic and beyond”. The research goes on to note that ‘nearly 95 percent of medical science liaisons are engaging physicians entirely remotely. And not surprisingly, leaders expect virtual tools to remain a critical asset for engagement and anticipate that they could partially-and even completely at some sites-replace in-person interactions’.
It is within this context that Digital Transformation initiatives promise to extend and enhance the industry’s ability to respond to and recover from the rapidly changing market conditions and evolving staff, and consumer needs accelerated by the pandemic. And while some may see digital transformation as merely a re-badging of historical systems and processes, it is in fact a redesign to modernize systems based on the latest best practices. By embracing this approach, Life Sciences firms can invest more effectively in their technologies, create new and better pathways for future innovation, and gain a competitive advantage over their peers.
Life Sciences organisations that have taken the initiative of planning for digital transformation are taking a huge step towards ensuring the longevity of their business and in particular their relationship with their customers. Companies like Pfizer, that have adopted a strategic approach to digital transformation will easily overcome the impatience of this so-called new normal. The company uses digital platforms and data to improve health outcomes and the experience of patients, providers and payers.
Pfizer’s LivingWith app for example, connects cancer patients with an oncology support system, enabling them to share information with caregivers, friends and family and remember important information from doctors’ visits. In April 2019, the company also launched the Mabu1 wellness robot that helps better manage symptoms and address patient questions in real-time. The artificial intelligence-powered platform “talks” with patients about how they are feeling and helps answer questions they may have about their treatment. The platform then delivers data and insights to clinicians at a specialty pharmacy provider to help a patient’s caregivers initiate timely and appropriate outreach to the patient.
While most large pharmaceutical companies are in a good position to take advantage of accelerating digital trends, very few life science businesses have that kind of scale in part due to their market size. However, they too can take advantage of these opportunities, leveraging data and technology to drive efficiencies across the board.
Opportunities for digital transformation are available throughout a life sciences organization, from improving finance, supply chain, and manufacturing operations, to developing new products and services, to engaging differently with customers and patients. There are opportunities around the future of customer relationship management and customer experience , which requires a company to examine how it maintains and improves customer satisfaction.
Digital transformation can be an arduous task, but the work should be rewarding. Enterprises which successfully integrate digital technologies will gain new insights, emerge as more profitable enterprises, and benefit from greater customer satisfaction.
Having said that, digital transformation also means having to dig a little deeper into current business models and institutionalize aspects of things that haven’t been done before. This could include embedding cloud applications into existing IT infrastructure, designing mobile applications for use across multiple locations, updating your website with new functionalities, and a host of other new initiatives. Digital transformation and organizational transformation as a whole have to be talked about in the same breath.
Despite the challenges, however, the benefit of digital transformation for the life sciences industry is clear. Digital technologies help manage data and drive data-driven decision-making. And organizations can improve the quality of care for their patients by designing projects that automate processes and improve workflows; provide guidance for clinicians about what information can help them become more successful; and enable researchers to identify and manage complex problems as they arise. But for this is to happen, both Senior Executives and front line managers must bring their combined experience and business acumen together in a single place to ensure adoption and use of the latest technologies is seamless and successful. Engaging the right external partners to make this a reality, is a critical first step in this process.
Archima is an independent Salesforce Consultancy dedicated to helping life sciences firms transform their operations into high-performance entities, allowing them to leverage the digital capabilities available to them through Cloud Implementation Services and Strategic IT Staffing. To learn more, and schedule your free, no obligation consultation, contact us.
 Gaurav Agrawal, Parry, B., Brindan Brendan, Westra, A. COVID-19 implications for life sciences R&D: Recovery and the next normal, https://assets.mckinsey.com/industries/pharmaceuticals-and-medical-products/our-insights/ covid-19-implications-for-life-sciences-r-and-d-recovery-and-the-next-normal
 Gaurav Agrawal, Parry, B.Brendanan Suresh, Westra, A. COVID-19 implications for life sciences R&D: Recovery and the next normal, https://assets.mckinsey.com/industries/pharmaceuticals-and-medical-products/our-insights/ covid-19-implications-for-life-sciences-r-and-d-recovery-and-the-next-normal
 Enhancing Patient Care Through Digital Transformation, https://www.pfizer.com/sites/default/files/investors/financial_reports/annual_reports/2019/our-bold-moveswin-the-digital-race-in-pharma/enhancing-patient-care-through-digital-transformation/index.html
 Digital Transformation in Life Sciences, https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/life-sciences-and-healthcare/articles/gx-digital-transformation-in-life-sciences.html