Digitalization has revolutionized many industries, and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception to it. The latest advancements and innovations in digital technologies continue to transform many aspects of the industry, enabling pharmaceutical companies to improve medicine development and patient care. Technology advancements such as augmented and virtual realities, advanced analytics, telehealth, and mobile communications are greatly helping patients and medical professionals alike.
To help you gain a deeper understanding, let us explore these groundbreaking digital technologies' profound impact on the pharmaceutical industry for the better.
Artificial Intelligence is Powering Enhanced Drug Development
Artificial intelligence in the pharma industry refers to using automated algorithms to perform tasks that otherwise rely on human intelligence. Over the past few years, AI has had a significant impact on how scientists develop new drugs, combat diseases, and more.
As per a study published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), only 13.8% of new drugs have success passing clinical trials. Companies can expect to pay up to $2 billion for drugs to complete their entire clinical trials process and receive FDA approval. The digital transformation in pharma powered by AI enhances the success rates of new medications while reducing operational costs. Pharma companies are leveraging AI to discover new and affordable drugs by using reliable automated processes.
For example, Verge Genomics uses automated data gathering and in-depth analysis to create exceptional solutions to reduce the risk of and combat diseases like Alzheimer's or ALS. Often, drug discovery research fails as researchers can only target one gene at a time. With AI, researchers can explore hundreds of genes that cause these diseases and find drugs targeting all of them at once.
AI enables advanced data analytics companies like AiCure to monitor participant engagement during clinical trials remotely. The company has developed an image recognition platform that prevents the need to measure drug adherence amongst participants using traditional methods. Traditionally, patients had to submit the data themselves, and there was no evidence of them taking a drug or other medication. The facial recognition software allows tracking drug adherence by videoing the patient taking the pill and monitoring its effects with varying dosages. According to research, AI drastically increased adherence in Schizophrenic patients. Hence, it is evident that AI-powered tactics are the next big thing for the pharmaceutical industry as they can accelerate drug development while reducing risks and costs.
Patients are More Actively Involved in Their Treatment
Due to the plethora of digital information available to patients on healthcare and pharmaceuticals, they are becoming more actively engaged with their medical treatment process and taking control of their health. The rise of technology and access to information offers them convenient ways to track their health. Patients do not have to rely on healthcare providers for information and make decisions. As they become more empowered and continue to leverage technology to monitor their health, the pharma industry is also seizing the opportunity to shift its focus from healthcare professionals to patients and better connect and engage with them using digital tools.
Pharmaceutical companies are increasing their efforts to engage patients using innovative digital technologies and adopt a more patient-centric approach. To tap into this growing trend of enhanced consumer empowerment, many pharma companies developed apps and aligned themselves with evolving patient behaviors. For example, Novartis created an app that provides emotional support and disease awareness to cancer patients, whereas with GlaxoSmithKline’s Cancer Trials app, patients can find clinical trials in their area.
Remote Monitoring With Virtual Care Apps, Wearables, and Wireless Sensors
With the innovations in digital technology, up-to-date, 24/7 virtual care is becoming the new norm throughout the healthcare industry. Already, various virtual-care apps allow for patient care customized for their specific needs. For example, NeoCare Solutions from Aetna is a mobile app that provides on-demand assistance to parents of premature infants by connecting them to neonatal nurses. WellDoc BlueStar app is the first cleared mobile app to manage type 2 diabetes, while AliveCor has developed a smartphone-based ECG. Consisting of a device and an app, it enables you to check your ECG anywhere, anytime. It can be reviewed by a remote healthcare provider, saving you the cost and delay associated with an in-person visit.
Wearable technologies like smartwatches also enable the real-time monitoring of diseases by gathering essential patient data like heart rates, glucose levels, concussions, and other events. They are helping reduce healthcare costs by decreasing the number of in-person visits to a clinic.
There are many wireless sensors available that issue real-time alerts to caregivers. The health data collected by a wearable medical device or a sensor can be life-saving as it could alert physicians and caregivers when there is a need for intervention.
Improved Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
The manufacturing of drugs and other medications is highly sensitive and tightly regulated. Even the slightest of errors may result in life-changing patient outcomes and have a devastating impact on the manufacturer. Not too long ago, a global pharmaceutical company recalled over half a million tablets. That was because they simply violated FDA labeling and manufacturing laws and had no adverse health effects.
The digitalization and automation of the pharma industry will ensure quality assurance in the manufacturing processes. Quality management is critical at each clinical research stage, from drug discovery and drug safety to its distribution. Inconsistent quality assurance in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process can lead to costly recalls or treatment shortages. Consequently, it can have a severe commercial or legal impact on the manufacturer. Data analytic tools can optimize manufacturing workflow efficiency and cut down quality issues. For example, wireless temperature sensors can help monitor a medication’s temperature during production batches.
Likewise, digitalization can help pharma companies create counterfeit-proof medications with serial numbers that can be tracked across the supply chain.
The launch of various innovative digital technologies, modes of communication, and health apps has taken the pharma industry by storm. While 8the pharma industry may be a little slow to adapt to the changes brought about by digital technologies because of regulatory restrictions, they are nevertheless reshaping patient experience and health outcomes.