No matter which industry you look at – be it advertising, accounting, manufacturing, or education – they all have something in common: they’ve been significantly impacted by digital technology over the last decade. This is true for the pharma and healthcare industries too, with patients using wearables to monitor wellbeing and disease or adopting gamifcation to improve adherence, for example. Here are just four ways in which digital technology is changing the pharma and healthcare industry – and often, for the better.
- Data is informing development
Over the last decade, the quantity and quality of data that’s been available to pharma companies has expanded rapidly. Various forms of digital technology – be it patients inputting real-time data into apps on a daily basis, or using wearable technology to monitor a medley of health matters – has helped the industry to collect ever more data, as well as assisting with analysis and application of that data.
Of course, collecting and sifting through all this data and using it to drive informed decisions are entirely different things. That’s where the services of the likes of Alacrita and other life science consultants continue to prove invaluable, helping pharma and healthcare companies to source relevant data, apply correct analytical methods and marry business decisions with the demands that data reveals.
- Patients are receiving services
Traditionally, pharma and healthcare companies were concerned with delivering medicines. However, digital technology is giving rise to services ‘beyond the pill’. As the Financial Times explores, an increasing number of patients are using the latest advances in cloud computing to manage their health issues from home, which means that pharma and healthcare companies are able to monetise real-time monitoring of patients.
While this means that patients are gradually moving away from the doctor’s office in favour of remote monitoring centres (which has both advantages and disadvantages), it’s allowed big pharma to reconsider its business model and offer complete solutions as opposed to individual medicines.
- Digital allows for direct sales
It’s now easier than ever to sell directly to the end user, rather than relying solely on ‘old school’ methods of selling, such as marketing to doctors and pharmacists who then may prescribe a drug to a patient. Instead, pharma and healthcare companies can reach both end users and physicians directly, using digital technology via social media, Google and paid advertising, and by answering questions posed in search engines (for example, 50% of US and UK physicians are reported to use Wikipedia to look for medical information).
This means that for companies who are willing to create valuable websites to educate or coach their target market, as well as mobile health solutions or social media platforms that engage with patients and practitioners, there’s a new way to sell.
- Day to day compliance is improving
Finally, digital is improving adherence with drugs and services too. PwC recently discovered that most patients are willing to let pharma companies know about their medical activities if it leads to better care, granting companies access to the way they’re using devices, interacting with apps and administering treatment. This allows healthcare and pharma companies to monitor adherence, and better understand what may be causing non-compliance.
Those are just four ways that digital technology is changing the healthcare and pharma industries. As technology continues to advance, it’s inevitable we’ll see further changes still.