“When a human body is the biggest data platform, who will capture value?” – EY
Scenario 1: A patient suffering from schizophrenia forgets to take his medicine and within no time receives a reminder call from his doctor. His regular medicine is a digital pill, and the microchip linked to the pill transmits data to both patient and the doctors thus enabling them to monitor patients’ medicine intake and prevent any issues.
Scenario 2: For an oncologist, keeping a check on patient’s regularity of medicine intake is a challenge. With a digital pill, the ingestible sensor transmits signals from within the body to a wearable patch connected to a mobile app providing key information to both patient and doctors.
Who would have imagined internet-connected medicine to be a reality until the FDA approved schizophrenia pill came into the market in late 2017? In the hope of better patient outcomes, the pharma industry has turned to digital technologies and platforms such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT) and focusing their studies to produce digital pills to treat critical illnesses. Be it clinical trials, drug development, or therapeutic solutions, efforts have been underway to accelerate digitalisation of the industry. In pursuit of digital transformation, the industry has witnessed a huge investment of US$9.5 billion for collaborations and acquisition deals.
Digital technologies have been here for a long time helping industries progress and stay ahead in the marketplace, but pharma was a late entrant in the digital space. However, the industry has made notable progress in embracing technology. Law firm Simmons & Simmons LLP conducted a study of C-suite executives from life sciences and technology sectors, and unsurprisingly, more than two-thirds of respondents believe digital transformation is happening in the life sciences industry. However, majority of them felt a little over 10 per cent of digital health opportunities make it to the execution and companies fail to perform due diligence in implementing the rest. So, what hinders these companies from leading a digital transformation? Data security and regulations. The industry has been crippled with regulatory challenges and the protecting huge amounts of patient data is equally challenging. While doctors and pharma companies have at their disposal huge amounts of patient data, making effective use of this data without compromising patient safety is a tremendous challenge in itself.
In the cover story, Lydia Torne, Managing Associate, Simmons & Simmons LLP presents perspectives on the impact of digital technologies in the life sciences industry and how the future is going to revolve around digitalisation. The author opines time is ripe for digital disruption in the industry and seamless collaboration between pharma and technology companies can help navigate legal and cultural issues to achieve a holistic digital transformation.