How is Digital Transformation Reshaping the Pharma Industry?
Published on : Saturday 09-12-2023
Uncover the trends and technologies reshaping the future of healthcare innovation and the pharmaceutical landscape in the digital age.
The pharmaceutical industry is rapidly moving towards digital transformation as healthcare businesses and hospitals are getting armed with cutting-edge technologies. Digital transformation in the pharma industry enables companies to become more efficient, innovative, and patient-centric. The question now is what are the factors motivating pharmaceutical companies to embrace digital transformation, and how are companies leveraging digital transformation technologies to deliver personalised patient care?
Due to mandatory social distancing and nationwide lockdowns brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a notable increase in digitisation since 2020. Research indicates that this worldwide health issue has accelerated digital transformation by six years; 97% of business executives say the pandemic has accelerated their digitalisation efforts.
With recent surges in digital transformation, the global pharma 4.0 market size is predicted to reach around USD 63.17 billion by 2032 from USD 12.05 billion in 2022. The market is growing at a CAGR of 18.02% during the forecast period from 2023 to 2032.
The impact of digital transformation
In the pharmaceutical industry, digitalisation entails creating and implementing digital technologies at every stage of business operations. Through this process, industry professionals in the field gather, examine, and apply large amounts of data from diverse sources to help achieve goals such as:
i. Drug manufacturing
ii. Research and development
iii. Supply chain management
iv. Clinical development
v. Patient engagement, and
vi. Quality assurance and control.
With major process benefits that get rid of siloed systems and long-standing manufacturing inefficiencies, digital transformation presents the pharmaceutical industry with numerous growth opportunities. This, in turn, enables pharma companies to meet future demands. The digital transformation is affecting the pharmaceutical industry and its manufacturing processes in many ways. Some of the ways are as follows:
Enhanced Visibility – By improving the visibility of supply chain operations, digital technologies help businesses make better business decisions. Businesses may fully integrate their supply chains through digitalisation to enhance manufacturing processes by running more responsive and adaptable operations. These changes result in increased accuracy, inventory levels, manufacturing efficiency, and service, allowing businesses to make faster and more effective business decisions.
Cost Savings – Digital transformation helps to lower per-capita costs in the pharma industry. In manufacturing plants, digitalisation often involves machine learning, artificial intelligence, and machine-to-machine communication. These digitalised processes promote more efficient manufacturing operations, automated corrective actions, and improved preventive maintenance. This leads to a reduction in errors and malfunctions for pharmaceutical companies. Digitalisation minimises repair costs, liabilities, and downtime by preventing equipment breakdowns, which results in higher cost savings.
Improved Control – Every step of the pharmaceutical product manufacturing process, including product development, equipment cleaning, and packaging labeling, needs to be closely watched. With increased product monitoring, visualisation, and remote data access made possible by digitalisation, the pharmaceutical industry helps businesses identify and enhance their packing procedures while also improving manufacturing process control. Consequently, they can identify and rectify errors prior to their affecting product batches, resulting in increased profitability and reduced expenses.
Greater Flexibility – In contrast to traditional fixed processes, digital transformation in the pharmaceutical industry enables more flexible manufacturing processes, which improves the speed at which medications and vaccines are produced. Flexibility in manufacturing allows companies to manufacture new drugs in facilities that use single-use materials, avoiding the need for equipment cleaning validation for existing machines, which is a limitation of fixed production processes. With such flexibility, businesses are able to expedite the delivery of medications and vaccines to consumers by saving manufacturing time.
Increased Product Quality – Pharmaceutical companies collect procedural data in order to guarantee the quality of their products. However, many of these companies still maintain paper records in their offices, which leaves gaps in the quality control system. Research indicates that onboarding quality management personnel takes pharmaceutical companies at least six months due to the large number of systems and data sources they need to work with and the absence of real-time data access. Digital transformation helps pharma companies collect information from numerous sources, standardise it, and analyse it to improve quality assurance.
Pharmaceutical companies can increase efficiency, dependability, and quality control by utilising all these capabilities of digitalisation or digital transformation, which will lead to higher-quality products.
Drug discovery and development
Drug development and discovery in the pharmaceutical industry are being profoundly impacted by digital transformation, which is resulting in significant changes to processes, efficiency, and outcomes. The following are some ways in which digital transformation is influencing this critical aspect of the industry:
Data Analytics and AI in Drug Discovery – Digital transformation enables the efficient analysis of large datasets such as genetic information, clinical trial results, and real-world evidence. This enables researchers to identify patterns and insights that can help with drug development. Algorithms for artificial intelligence and machine learning are being used to forecast possible drug candidates, evaluate their safety profiles, and streamline the drug development process needed for traditional trial-and-error approaches.
Precision Medicine and Personalised Therapies – The development of precision medicine is greatly aided by the use of technology. Research on genomics and biomarkers makes it possible to identify patient subgroups that are more likely to benefit from particular treatments, which enables the development of more specialised and individualised treatments. Predictive analytics can be used to optimise clinical trial designs, thanks to digital technologies. In the end, increasing the effectiveness of clinical trials includes patient recruitment tactics, site selection, and the identification of potential obstacles.
Scope of digital transformation in pharmaceuticals
The pharmaceutical industry could undergo a significant transformation if digitalisation is implemented, as it could lead to reduced drug time to market, enhanced data security, faster innovation, and better knowledge management. However, a poorly thought-out digital transformation plan can lead to resource waste and elevated risk.
As digital transformation in the pharmaceutical industry continues, digital technologies and cognitive tools will make their way into all aspects of the industry, allowing for faster drug development and expanded treatment options for an increasing number of conditions. The goal of digital transformation is to provide innovative healthcare solutions in a sustainable, responsible, and accessible manner.
The way ahead
Digital transformation in the pharmaceutical industry is an ongoing process, with technological and methodology advancements occurring on a regular basis. This significantly represents a dynamic journey towards a more interconnected, efficient, and patient-centric future. It demonstrates the industry's adaptability and resilience, putting it at the forefront of healthcare innovation and paving the way for a new era of pharmaceutical excellence. By leveraging digital technologies, Industrial Automation believes that pharmaceutical companies can make significant strides towards more efficient, cost-effective, and personalised approaches to delivering advanced care.