Digital Transformation in Life Sciences

The life sciences sector has undergone an evolution over the last few years in terms of digitization, ranging from improvements in the life sciences value chain to better integrating the payment gateway. Emerging technology is giving way to solving for new opportunities in this space. By Dan Drapeau

Digitization in the Life Sciences Sector

Whether it’s biotech, pharma, or MedTech, the life sciences space has lagged behind other industries in technology advancement, in part due to high regulations as well as other compliance, data security, and privacy challenges.  During my time analyzing the sector several years ago, I was fascinated with advancements in breakthrough technology like precision medicine and gene editing and was curious as to how quickly organizations would be able to adapt from a digital perspective.  While some transformative technology has been introduced to solve for challenges, new approaches to traditional methods and emerging technology has continued to create opportunities for further digital change.

Precision medicine has become a fundamental shift in the pharma and healthcare space.  The transition from a one size fits all model with drugs and therapies to highly personalized treatment has become core to many businesses.  It’s triggered a change in commercialization strategies and has introduced new challenges around clinical trial efficiency, supply chain optimization, drug discovery, and connecting patients with physicians. 

Gene editing, specifically CRISPR technology, has revolutionized the search for new drugs.  The controversy and patent disputes [between MIT, Harvard, and UC Berkley] had once been a focal point. The digitization of genetic information has shifted how the health industry has worked.  This is continuing to change through the convergence of data science and genomics as well as the application of blockchain technology to enable transaction security.   

Over the last few years, regulators have been increasingly open to the use of digital tools to promote the correct usage of medicine.  Updated guidelines on information privacy, such as GDPR, has required new approaches to patient data management, however pharma companies have been able to ensure data privacy while adopting offerings that already exist in the digital marketplace.  Cloud enablement has been hindered by industry regulations as well.    

Pain Points & Challenges Impacting Organizations

Prominent data management and integration issues due to siloed and broken legacy systems has been further made worse within large, global organizations that have undergone mergers & acquisitions, which is quite common in the industry.  Inaccessible data acts as a hurdle for data & analytics in R&D and clinical trials, a building block to enable application of AI infusion for drug discovery and development.  Most of the complexity and cost associated with proprietary enterprise applications tends to be caused by underlying data issues.

Challenges with supply chain contribute to lack of product visibility and inventory control.  With the rise of precision medicine and the patient-centric ecosystem of the future, real-time monitoring of the supply chain has become a requirement.  While cloud enablement has come a long way in recent years, challenges remain, especially with global organizations with regional differences.

Clinical trials had been quite inefficient for a long period of time.  Data quality, flexibility of the process, and patient retention have been among the main challenges.  With the shift to precision medicine, innovations are needed to further decrease costs while increasing efficiency.  Current regulations to personal data management are still hindering this area.  These regulations, in addition to cyber security, digital trust, and outdated business & operating models, have also impacted the adoption of emerging technology such as IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) and voice.    

Evolution of Life Sciences & Emerging Opportunities

The life sciences sector has undergone an evolution over the last few years in terms of digitization, ranging from improvements in the life sciences value chain to better integrating the payment gateway.  Emerging technology is giving way to solving for new opportunities in this space.     

The rise of precision medicine has given way to several unique opportunities including digitization of clinical trials, supply chain optimization, and predictive analytics and AI enablement for drug discovery and development.  Intelligence infusion has become a necessity for drug discovery and development as the industry as continued to shift from one size fits all blockbuster drugs to individualized treatment.

Adoption of digitization has been instrumental to increasing the efficiency of clinical trials.  Digital recruiting has been key for patient health monitoring, improving how pharma companies interact with patients and develop new drugs, and more effectively connecting patients and healthcare over customer portals.  Voice assistance and blockchain have revolutionized clinical trials.  

With a more personalized and the patient-centric ecosystem of the future, real-time monitoring of supply chain is now a requirement.  Digital supply networks can provide greater product visibility and inventory control.  An opportunity for growth in this is area is augmenting and automating supply chain intelligence.

Data management is crucial to effectivity aggregate, clean, and visualize data sets.  Use of machine learning has helped to standardize data sets, integrate legacy data, and improve data analysis and visualization.  While there are many valuable applications of AI and machine learning, success is largely determined by data integrity.    

Cloud enablement has had a profound impact on the industry.  Cloud infrastructure has helped to break down silos and connects workers.  Cloud-based tech has allowed for information to be more easily managed and distributed on a global scale.  A common challenge impacting global organizations is regional and geographic differences; cloud infrastructure provides organizations with global reach and betters connects business units and departments.  

Digitizing tasks that have previously been done manually has been a shift over the years.  Intelligent automation is an extension of this and can help across several areas including research & development and regulatory compliance.  The benefits of this include greater accuracy, increased productivity, audit logs, and consistent reliability.

DARQ (Distributed Ledgers, AI, Extended Reality, and Quantum Computing) technologies has emerged as the latest source of disruption in the space.  AI will continue to have the most impact in the near term.  Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, examples of distributed ledger tech, removes the third party from transactions and can enable self-executing smart contracts.  Blockchain can be used to improve the efficiency of clinical trials as well as advancing precision medicine by utilizing blockchain powered AI.  Virtual reality will change the consumer experience with on-demand and immersive interfaces.  Quantum computing is expected to contribute to the evolution of drug discovery and personalized medicine in the coming years.

Despite the challenges with adoption, IoMT is poised to drive further innovation within med tech.  IoMT enables doctors to manage patients’ data efficiently.  There have been benefits for patients as well including increased awareness to health due to medical apps.  This technology can lead to lower healthcare cost in the sense that doctors are able to remotely monitor patients.

Blue Fountain Media is an integral pillar of the Centific family, allowing a unique and unrivaled agency structure bestowing a full service offering of emerging technologies. While Blue Fountain Media has long been an industry leader in developing digital experiences that deliver results, the recent acclimation of additional service offerings present clients unrivaled access to the world’s best technology and talent. The innovative agency structure allows Blue Fountain Media to expand and provide the necessary capabilities, such as AI enablement and data centric transformation services, that meet the next steps in the fast-paced growth cycle of enterprise business’ technological needs, allowing a true end-to-end digital solution for your organization.

How Centific can help

Centific provides digital technology solutions and consulting services with a focus around data centricity, AI enablement, and digital experiences.  Our solution capabilities, product offerings, and consulting services have helped organizations solve an end-to-end range of challenges in life sciences. 

With data being a key asset of the modern enterprise, our capabilities around data & analytics modernization enable us to solve organizational problems caused due to disparate data systems and other data issues, only made worse by M&A.  Our range of capabilities spans data strategy, master data management, data migration, and reporting & analytics.

Intelligence fusion has become a necessity for organizations.  Our artificial intelligence framework, Pact.AI, helps us to solve for needs around precise, predictive medicine, intelligent customer service, and intelligent automation. 

Our cloud enablement capabilities have helped global organizations solve some of their geographic issues and communication & collaboration challenges.

Our globalization solutions range from AI-infused language services to data monetization and augmented intelligence.  Our product OneForma is an AI-infused platform with capabilities that can be mapped to several challenges impacting this sector.

We’ve engaged with customers seeking assistance with China market entry.  With our expertise and deep knowledge of this market, we’ve helped brands navigate the market leading to exponential growth through innovation and scaling.  We help organizations with social commerce and CRM, omni-channel strategy, data insights, and systems integration.  

We’ve discussed applications of voice technology to clinical trials, the impact of blockchain on clinical trials efficiency, and Internet of Medical Things.  Our services and consulting around emerging experiences span voice strategy and technology, AR/VR, and IoT.

Our services around digital experiences range from web, mobile, and platform development and systems integration as well as integrated marketing.

About the Author: 

Dan Drapeau is Head of Technology at Centific Digital Agency Services Provider, Blue Fountain Media.  Dan is an executive business & technology leader with experience in digital technology services and consulting with a background in solution & enterprise architecture and software engineering. CTO for strategic business unit in global IT firm with a focus on driving revenue through enterprise sales in the life sciences/financial services sectors and expanding the organization into new global markets.