Start your digital transformation journey now

Digital Transformation in Pharma: Barriers and Impact

pharma digital transformation

Over time, pharma gets under fire due to its excessive talks about ‘digital transformation.’ It needs to be clarified what these words refer to and whether these grandiloquent statements work for actual doctors and patients. How many healthcare professionals and patients have yet to see the impact of digital technologies in the healthcare industry? Has it already improved pharma’s daily operations?

Let’s figure out where the pharma sector is on the road to the digital age, how this process is changing how they do business, and how it affects the HCPs and patient engagement.

What is Digital Transformation for Pharma companies?

“Every digital transformation is going to begin and end with the customer, and I can see that in the minds of every CEO I talk to.”

Marc Benioff, Chairman, and Co-CEO, Salesforce.

Digital Technology in the pharmaceutical industry pushes us to change, poses challenges we don’t want to take, and makes us move forward. These changes may be dramatic. But when life wants us to grow, it makes us change to remain competitive.

The problem is that digital technologies are changing faster than we are, leaving us with no choice but to keep pace.

When we speak of digital transformation reshaping, we mean the natural evolution of existing processes with new technologies, introducing patterns and strategies that enhance customer experience, and building a genuine dialogue with the customer.

In the pharmaceutical sector, this process was launched three years ago, when the pandemic, without much readiness, forced life sciences to increase their digital innovation culture drastically or, in particular cases, grow it from scratch. Looking back, we may go through all cliches of that period, but the digital shift declared a standard of communication with customers.

Digital Transformation Barriers: where are we?

Where are we now on the road to digital success?

Despite being spurred by the pandemic, the digitalization process runs slowly. In terms of pharma digitalization, there are still many regions on the map where companies’ digital development level is consistently low. This map shows how pharmaceutical companies assess their readiness to become digital organizations.

According to this map, the digitalization process among countries remains uneven. This is primarily associated with the poor scalability of implemented solutions among the regions and resilience to changes.

Now, 1/3 of pharmaceutical companies believe they need to be better resourced for digital engagement. The other 40% report a need for more talent and the right technology for transformation.

It’s important to understand that each industry has its own specifics and digitalization in pharma won’t be as smooth as anywhere else. However, this process highlights the areas where the mindset change should happen and what soft spots digital business processes transformation is designed to cover.

How does Digital Transformation reshape the Pharma industry?

Digital innovation in the pharma sector can help companies perform better by increasing productivity and reducing costs through collaboration, digital technology centralization to optimize delivery, and empowering a company or department.

  • supply chain 

    A global pharmaceutical company is experimenting with VR in its manufacturing operations. Managers can cut training time in half by creating virtual training programs that render production environments and speed up the path to excellence.

  • streamline processes and marketing efforts 

    Another biopharmaceutical company reduced its marketing spending by 20% by building a global system. The move followed a duplication analysis, in which the company found that up to 60% of localized asset-creation activities were duplicative.

    The company now has a centralized content center to deliver standardized marketing materials in flexible formats to more than 40 local markets.

  • acquiring talent more efficiently 

    The medical company double-checked the licenses of applicants for a nursing license during the interview. This included visiting the verification website, taking a snapshot of the applicant’s license, and storing the information in the applicant’s file.

    The HR bot was able to automate 80% of the process. Robotic process automation resulted in a 65% reduction in labor costs and a reduced risk of errors.

    This freed up the equivalent of one full-time job, allowing employees to focus on more critical activities.

Disruptive Technologies and Market Dynamics

Digital technologies can help companies deliver a competitive, digitally enabled, engaging, impactful experience to customers, the workforce, and ecosystem external partners. Key disruptive technologies include using digital tools to engage patients and other stakeholders remotely, involving social and other community networks, and personalizing experiences with user data to deliver excellent value.

  • Creating a platform for customer experience.

    The Patient Service and Care Management Platform delivers consistent patient experiences across all channels and enables treatment adherence and care coordination with an entire network of healthcare providers for each patient. Through connected apps and devices, it supports digital therapy, helps improve patient outcomes, and helps health professionals coordinate patient care management. The platform analyzes internal and external data to gain insight into patient care and interactions and can integrate with the platform to analyze real-world data.

  • Connecting patients, biopharma, caregivers, health care providers, and other stakeholders. 

    The platform helps biopharma companies build partnerships with advocacy groups and providers to enhance patients’ experience with complex, chronic, and terminal diseases. It supports a next-generation digital healthcare network focused on patient support and digital engagement. Patients who consent to share their data receive information and updates from the sponsoring organization (typically biopharma companies and patient advocacy groups) to help navigate their disease.

  • Optimizing the content provided to health care practitioners. 

    A large global biopharmaceutical company has created a self-service portal for more than 30,000 practitioners across Europe to access digital marketing and sales materials in various media. The content shared with each practitioner differs based on previous browsing habits, allowing for custom targeting and enhancing the effectiveness of the marketing approach.

Artificial Intelligence in the Pharma Transformation

Over the past few years, the use of Artificial Intelligence in the Pharma industry and Life Sciences has become a trending topic. Many pharmaceutical companies are progressively implementing more efficient automated processes that include data-driven decisions and use predictive advanced analytics tools.

The next step of this advanced data analytics approach will consist of artificial Intelligence and machine learning. Some of the ways AI is being applied in the pharmaceutical sector today include the following:

  • Manufacturing process improvement

  • Drug development

  • Processing biomedical and clinical data

  • Rare diseases and personalized medicine

  • Identifying clinical trial candidates

  • Predictive forecasting

  • Drug adherence and dosage

From early-stage drug discovery to prescribing options, the use of Artificial Intelligence is growing steadily within the pharma industry,

with an estimated market volume reaching $10 billions by 2024 (including diagnostics, AI-based medical imaging, personal AI assistants, genomics, and drug discovery).

Can we hold the digital transformations back?

Remember your life before the pandemic; now, it seems like a dream to you, right? Like no other, these two years greatly impacted our lives, habits, and priorities.

In 2019, marketers expected a quick end to the pandemic and a return to routine communication with customers. After three years, again like a dream, the pandemic is slowly receding (at minor restrictions). It begs the question: do we need to digitalize further? And will this process be slowed down now? No. Because the digital shift catalyzed some fundamental changes. Pharma marketing has always been a complicated environment characterized by complex relationships with its target audience. However, the shift towards digital innovation in pharma has exposed many problems that previously needed to be tracked. Searching through the old reports is like getting into a time machine that can take us back to changes that have taken place. The retrospective looks as follows:
In 2019, 77% of pharma companies reported issues with content localization/translation. Only 28% could repurpose their content with a little manual effort. Back then, 62% say their organization has yet to make plans for using AI-driven content technologies.
The most significant impact of digital technology in the pharmaceutical industry was on HCP engagement.
Before COVID-19, 64% of meetings with pharma sales reps were held in person. During the pandemic, this shifted to 65% of meetings being held virtually.
The old patters revolve primarily around internal content production issues in the pharmaceutical industry and don’t consider the main factor – HCP’s experiences. Today, searching for personalized experiences for the customer is the cornerstone of all companies that want to withstand competition in the market and have a serious competitive advantage. In the end, we should remember that technology exists to make our life easier. In life sciences, the ultimate goal of Digital Transformation is to introduce new technologies that will allow space and time for more strategic decisions on customers. These technologies should solve the long-standing issues of MLR optimization, content and taxonomy management, and multivendor environment support.

Transformation in the Pharmaceutical sector: what it refers to

Pharma often speaks clichés, but most critics are associated with a lack of clarification of what it refers to. The pandemic exposed many problems in pharma that, in the new era of communication, cannot remain unresolved. We’ve tried to highlight them all for you to see that Digital Transformation usually touches people, processestools, and content, areas where innovations are needed to simplify the internal processes that often hinder the natural evolution of companies toward strategic marketing.

Why do we need it? 

In communicating with our customers, we should remember that the biggest shift occurred in patients’ mindsets. Not speaking their language, we can compare our audience to distant stars we try to reach in the dark.

The main driver of prescriptions in the pharma industry is loyalty. The main factor that affects loyalty is the message your brand translates. Feel free to learn about it by checking our pharma digital transformation case study.

Companies that help with pharma digital transformation

Such professional services companies as Mckinsey, Vaimo, and Viseven are driving Digital Transformation by offering an end-to-end content operating model that is aligned with strategy, and ready for scale and innovation adoption.

Viseven combines technology and marketing expertise mastering the entire chain of enablers to deliver a best-in-class digital experience.​ 

Contact us to learn more about how we enable digital transformation for pharma businesses of all sizes and maturity levels.

    Home » Digital Transformation in Pharma: Barriers and Impact