Digital Transformation in Pharma

Even before the pandemic took place, the pharmaceutical sector was already experiencing immense change. However, that change was still more gradual than what we see today. Over the last two decades, many healthcare companies have gingerly started to transform themselves with various digital or advanced technologies.

Wearable health devices, massive cloud storage databases and artificial intelligence software has begun to pave the way. By 2026, national health spending in the US healthcare market alone is projected to reach $5.7 trillion.

This is a stark contrast compared to 2014, when very few companies had gone digital yet. Back in 2014, many pharma brands were only faintly discussing their digital transformation initiatives. Their roadmaps for integration were anywhere from a year to a decade or longer.

With the world still recovering from the coronavirus, though, digital transformation in pharma is now vastly more essential. Investing in digitalization is a necessity for pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare organizations to remain relevant in today’s climate, and to thrive in tomorrow’s.

What does digital transformation in pharma look like in a post-COVID world? And just how big of an impact did the pandemic have on the healthcare and pharma industries?

We want to look at the numbers to observe how digital transformation is set to reshape the pharma sector as we know it. Then, we’ll show you some key examples of digital transformation in pharma.


How COVID-19 Accelerated the Digital Transformation in Pharma

As briefly noted above, many pharmaceutical companies were faintly discussing digital transformation initiatives prior to the coronavirus pandemic. When COVID hit, though, industrial digitalization became a priority.

Businesses in almost every industry, not just pharmaceutical, had to scramble to figure out how to better reach their customers. Virtually overnight, industrial digital transformation roadmaps became compressed. The speed in which COVID changed things was astronomical.

In a matter of weeks, digital transformation in pharma helped healthcare systems build telemedicine solutions. Businesses in offices and contact centers transitioned to remote so that employees could work from home. Curbside pickup for grocery orders made it possible for customers to stay out of stores but keep buying their necessities. Hotlines to receive the most accurate information and mass notifications from organizations were well underway.

2,500 enterprise decision makers were surveyed across the US, UK, Japan, Spain, Singapore, Italy, France, Germany and Australia. According to the survey, conducted by Twilio, COVID-19 may be the most effective digital accelerant the world has ever seen.

To put the numbers in perspective, 97% of those enterprise decision makers agree that the pandemic sped up their digital transformation roadmap. A company’s digital communication strategy was accelerated by an average of 6 years.


5 Key Examples of Digital Transformation in Pharma and Healthcare

As a result of the mark COVID left on the world, about 95% of all companies are seeking new ways to engage with their customers. 92% understand that pharma 4.0 comes with it the age of true digital transformation. What emerging technologies in the pharmaceutical industry are we seeing, and which are worth investing in as the digital age continues?

1. The Power of AI in Pharma

A big aspect of the digital transformation in pharma is the power of artificial intelligence. From chatbots to hospital droids, it seems AI is taking over in a positive way. Genomics, medical imaging, precision medicine and drug discovery are other areas where artificial intelligence in pharma can shine.

Instead of receiving cookie-cutter treatments, AI can tailor a health plan to an individual patient’s lifestyle and genetic makeup. The more sophisticated the pattern recognition, the easier this becomes.

2. Wearable Devices for Predictive Healthcare

Predictive and preventive healthcare have long since been more cost-effective than corrective healthcare. The rise of wearable medical devices is paving the way for easier preventive and predictive analytics.

An example of this is insurance incentives for patients who take preventive measures. Insurers can more accurately estimate a patient’s risk for disease or illness to narrow in on appropriate insurance pricing. Plus, patients feel more responsible for improving their health with a more personalized healthcare experience.

3. VR to Manage and Treat Symptoms

The idea that we can treat patients with virtual reality, even a decade ago, would’ve sounded farfetched. Now, it appears to be a (virtual) reality thanks to digital transformation in pharma. VR is emerging as a drug-free tool for the treatment or management of various symptoms – including chronic pain.

For a nation that is plagued by an opioid crisis, this news couldn’t be more promising. Studies and clinical trials are taking place to look at VR’s capabilities and see just how much of an impact it could have on pain and other therapeutic targets.

4. Big Data in the Industry

Gathering more data allows the pharmaceutical industry to better service patients at every stage of the process. This information can be gathered through several formats. Financial and online transactions, social media, ecommerce and other facets of data can help organizations identify trends and patterns that can be better used in the future.

For example, by estimating the future admission rates for clinics and hospitals, a facility can better organize their staffing schedule. Another example is through patient record analysis. Data analytics for pharma can identify inconsistencies between drug prescriptions and a patient’s health.

5. Healthcare, On-Demand

Finally, the rise of digital transformation in pharma brings forth patients who seek healthcare that fits around their busy schedules. Over four billion people use the Internet across the globe. At least 77% of US Americans own a smartphone. It’s easy to see that going mobile and digital are the keys to remain relevant in our digital future.



What is digital marketing in the pharmaceutical industry?

Digital marketing is the use of digital technologies to promote products or services. It replaces current or traditional marketing strategies in the pharmaceutical industry. Overall, digital marketing lowers costs, improves engagement and better personalizes interaction with consumers or patients.

What do pharma marketers do?

Pharma marketers are responsible for promoting pharmaceutical products to physicians and other healthcare professionals.