How can the Pharma Industry progress in 2021?
The most important aspect that has changed about the pharma industry is that it has become more patient-centric. There are many reasons for this change. The important one being the pandemic and how it forced the industry to embrace innovation and collaboration.
From the patient’s end too, swift and notable changes have occurred. Consumers are now more comfortable with e-consultations through live video calls with doctors, purchase of medicine online through prescriptions that are sent through WhatsApp, and collection of blood samples at home itself.
This has only been possible through the combined power of the Internet, data science, and artificial intelligence (AI). These new parameters have expedited the pace of digital transformation in the pharma organizations during the pandemic to improve quality and productivity.
But one can’t take out human participation entirely. Skilled manpower in cloud computing, robotic process automation (RPA), and other technological areas will help speed up the process of production and distribution considerably.
Learning New Lessons
Even before one gets into collaboration and technology, there are a lot of new lessons to be learned for 2021. Coronavirus has taught that respecting nature is important. Companies have also begun to realize that, by keeping the conversation between the patient and employee intact, they can show adaptability by embracing new technologies and work processes. The race for a COVID vaccine has helped strengthen the industry’s core business model and find traditional and unconventional avenues of growth.
Strengthening the clinical trial ecosystem has been paramount to the pharma industry. This has dawned upon the general public and the numerous stakeholders too as one can witness the pools of money that is being pumped into decentralized trial approaches, and building real-world evidence models into clinical trials.
Preparations for any other kind of unpredictable changes in nature also need to be accounted for. One has to continuously work under the assumptions that plans might change and scenarios might have to be re-evaluated. Self-reliance and digitalization play an important role in making sure this adaptability is maintained irrespective of circumstances. A simple effect that pandemic did is to make the supply chain management system stronger than before by exposing the weaknesses we never saw before.
Thankfully, economic activity across markets has begun to show signs of stabilization and the path to recovery is expected to be strong.
Time for Collaboration
If there is anything that the pandemic has taught then it is that tough times can be overcome together. Collaboration through the use of technology is necessary for the reconstruction of any industry that has taken a hit during the pandemic.
Many industry experts believe that global partnerships across the private, public and civil sectors must be actively encouraged by the government and private enterprises. COVID has brought out collaboration among nations, instead of competition. This means that countries would have to share automation technology to equalize standards and compliances universally.
The effects of digitalization in a post COVID world is apparent. Technology has crossed several barriers and companies are able to deliver medicines to patients and physicians through aerial transport. Technology has sufficiently improved efficiency and also enhanced customer service
All these procedures run on large amounts of data. By systematically analyzing and networking data, pharma companies can improve production efficiency, find customers more effectively, and explore new products and business models.
Technology will also increase scalability, and usher in the production of vaccine and drug development at a quick pace. Cloud computing and AI have managed to accelerate clinical trials thereby saving lives across the world. Digitalization should not stop at R&D and distribution but should extend to manufacturing, quality operations and so on.
Time for innovation at home
Innovation is driven by what patients want and their needs vary from region to region. Not just their needs but also their limitations.
The pandemic has shown India its excessive dependency on China’s API; an opportunity for local drug manufacturers to become self-sufficient. Direct to patient shipment of investigational medicinal products (IMP) is one of the aspects that India has to take a direct step forward. Home nursing care, which has got a boost in recent years, has become necessary for the fear of COVID.
But the industry can’t afford to spend too much. An efficient organization improves efficiency while bringing down costs.
In conclusion, the pandemic has helped the pharma industry find its flaws and develop its strengths. But these changes must not be temporary. It is imperative that the industry relies on in-house collaboration and digitalization and continue the upward trend beyond 2021 too.