2015 Pharma and Big Data 1st Quarter News Wrap Up

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Slowly but surely, evolutions in big data and Pharma are disrupting health care. While none of the advancements are surprising, there is a large yet succinct “new order” set to take over what was formerly known as standardized care. Now that the first quarter in 2015 has come to a close, let’s look back on some of the prominent issues and stories that broke this year, as well as some topics that continue to draw attention, such as patient-centricity and collaboration. Here’s a glance back at the last three months in the news.

1. 2015 predictions

2015 kicked off with many predictions for both Pharma and big data. With regards to big data, predictions revolved around it becoming mainstream for big and small operations alike, as well as the role cloud technology will play in the effectiveness of data use and analysis. With regards to Pharma, predictions relied on the emerging trends from 2014 and touched on the continuing rise of focus on the patient (aka patient centricity), evolution of wearable technology and the influence of regulation on Pharma’s ability to thrive. Which of these are starting to emerge and which ones are still premonitions? Here are a few we liked the most:

  • Patient empowerment. Instead of focusing on the technology solution empowering the patient to change, organizations will emphasize the power of the patient to choose, further propelling patient-centric medicine.
  • Wearables. This sector will emphasize how gathering data on wearables can positively impact patient care and lead to improved patient behaviors.
  • Virtual reality systems. Advancements are centered on patient education through virtual reality, not just treatment options.
  • Patient attention. To cut through the noise, marketing must tell the right stories to garner the attention of and engage consumers.
  • Personalized medicine. Using predictive biomarkers, organizations can control treatment costs and promote efficient and effective treatment paths.
  • Marketing automation. The most successful organizations will learn how to automate digital channels like online marketing, SMS, content marketing, email marketing, and closed loop marketing.
  • Security. While past concerns centered on the safety and privacy of patient data, in the next era, patients who share more information will get better treatment, as diagnostic tools can deliver improved options with the right data.
  • Data. No longer for the big guys, Big Data will go mainstream in 2015.
  • New name. As “big data” becomes available to all, expect the name to go by the wayside and become “data.”
  • Cloud alternatives. One reason big data was once only for the large organization was due to the technology requirements and expertise. Now that cloud alternatives exist, everyone can benefit from the extended network.
  • Improved ROI. Big data continues to get faster, meaning quicker time-to-delivery for analysis. As a result, the return on investment of data will quickly rise.

 2. Collaboration

Collaboration is the act of working jointly – two or more people combining their efforts toward achieving shared or intersecting goals. Teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources. Collaboration is needed for inbound communication (between CMO’s and CIO’s for example), and the issue of collaboration in a broader sense – between executives, companies, authorities etc. – is a continuous interest for the Pharma market:

  • Partnerships deliver greater results in terms of high-quality care. Pharma organizations are collaborating to create disease awareness campaigns, education programs, and patient assistance strategies.
  • Patients are demanding greater transparency in health care services costs, in addition to the availability of various products and services to improve health. Health care organizations that respond, in turn, by collaborating will provide higher quality care at a reduced cost.
  • Within Pharma companies, there exists opportunities for CIOs and CMOs to collaborate on big data, analytics and technology spending, three largely untapped areas.

 3. Digital Pharma

Patient data information technologies, wearables, and use of social media for data procurement are all examples of the ways Pharma is using the digital world to enhance results.

  • Digital tools are proving to have a higher sales rate. Doctors who use digital tools to interact with patients prescribe medication more often, compared to doctors using conventional tools or sales rep calls.
  • Wearables are transforming how medical professionals diagnose, with apps slated to diagnose conditions like asthma (patients can breathe into a device that connects to their smartphone), Parkinson disease, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and breast cancer treatments.

 4. Patient Centricity

The shift of focus towards the patient, named simply “patient centricity” is not a new trend, yet it continues to attract much attention, specifically with regards to its implementations. Here are some interesting points on the matter:

  • The focus on patients should help Pharma companies identify new revenue streams, specifically with data that identifies physicians who aren’t necessarily in the high-prescriber but who would be willing to switch drugs.
  • Implementing patient-centric programs proves risky. For example, a conflict of interest is inherent in programs that target patient associations. While Pharma organizations may work with patient associations to spread the word about disease or treatment, this is not a true patient-centric approach. It may bring with it monetary ties in terms of recommending certain medications or treatment options.
  • Successful Pharma companies will identify with individual customers, not groups, segments or targets and customize treatment for the person.

 5. Management challenges in Pharma

The challenges of leadership are familiar to every manager in every industry. However, in a volatile and complicated business environment such as the one Pharma is facing, these challenges prove to be of even greater volume and importance.

Rivaling the revenue of the energy industry, there’s a lot at stake for Pharma companies. Shifting delivery methods, health care availability, global markets and an aging population mean health care is constantly adapting. Management must realize the ever-changing landscape and make swift yet concise adjustments. Rick Lynch, a retired Army General, sees these parallels for Pharma management and recommends:

  • Adapting by engaging employees.
  • Offering a stable environment.
  • Using slow and steady decision-making to win the race — and respect.
  • Focusing on employee needs, not your own welfare or advancement.
  • Always offering respect.
  • Communicating openly.
  • Promoting diversity as a desirable organizational benefit.
  • Creating a mentor program.

The disruptive health care landscape also calls for management who welcome would-be competitors to work collaboratively with groups, like health care managers and life coaches. Health care requires forward-thinking management in all aspects, including processes, infrastructure and compensation programs.

The expectation for Pharma and Big Data in 2015 is largely positive, with predictions for the future riding on the wave of technology and a shift in patient focus, based on collaboration, digital technologies, patient-centricity and a shift in management.

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