The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is rapidly coming to terms with digital technology.


New tech companies are entering the market and existing players have had to up their game, across marketing, sales and operations.


Better patient communication


The typical patient journey is ripe for digital disruption, as this diagram shows. From the healthcare provider's point of view, the visit, diagnosis, treatment selection and condition management stages are all points where the patient could be more involved and better updated.


Patient portals, apps and online communities are increasingly commonplace. The second and third generations of this technology should help improve customer experience.


















Author: David Rowlands















Providing services, not just treatment


Drugs are vital in treating many conditions and diseases, there is much more for the patient and physician to consider. That could be anything from education or lifestyle advice, to emotional support. Pharma companies have always engaged with the end consumer but digital technology ultimately promises much greater scale.


The ultimate aim, of course, is for pharma companies to look more to outcome-based solutions which involve greater engagement with patients and third parties. In order to achieve this they must not only assist with holistic patient care in this way, but must also advocate a combination of therapeutics, whether or not they themselves manufacture them.


Providing this type of customer experience may be quite a step change, but pharma has for a decade been coming to terms with the internet's impact on patient knowledge and behaviour.


Consumers are ever more motivated by finding the best treatment and care. Pharma must provide the best outcome-based approach to cut through. Indeed, some companies are partnering with third-party tech companies in an effort to promote an unbiased presence in the market.


Improving diagnostics and adherence


The concept of the connected human being given personalised care and improved diagnostics is one long foreseen by science fiction. Since wearables entered the market, the idea of ongoing measurement has seemed less fanciful. Indeed, the ubiquity of the smartphone now gives the prospect of reliable access to patient data in the real world.


Better sales practices


Too often, private healthcare professionals or providers must meet with multiple reps from the same pharma company. This is understandable given the expertise needed within each specialism, but from a customer point of view, busy healthcare professionals may be left wanting a more flexible solution.


Increasingly, pharma companies are using digital technology (both customer facing and back-of-house) to provide this. Systems can achieve a single customer view and digital communication channels can provide access to samples and resources for healthcare professionals and patients.


Digital sales aids and marketing are now firmly on the rep agenda.


A related area is that of more effectively targeting patients. Patient finder technology can combine clinical knowledge with big data to allow drug manufacturers to identify potential patients that may have a disease that is hard to diagnose.


Real-world data and drug development


The proliferation of health analytics solutions has implications for drug development, too. Manufacturers will have access to much more real-world data and this will undoubtedly assist in understanding the effects of a drug.

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