4 Ways Technology Can Optimize Clinical Trial Workflows

4 Ways Technology Can Optimize Clinical Trial Workflows

In 2003, the cost to fully develop an FDA approved drug was $803 million. Now, however, that price has skyrocketed up to 2.6 billion and there have been no signs of this rate slowing down!

Unfortunately, while the price to develop drugs have increased, the rate of clinical trial success has decreased by about 12% in this span.

Therefore, this results in ever-increasing pressure to increase efficiency and reduce costs of clinical trials, which can be a major catch-22.

Site directors and managers are fighting an uphill battle to minimize complexity, ensure compliance, and streamline clinical trial processes.

On the other hand, there’s still a practical, regulatory, and ethical obligation to ensure data accuracy and scientific validity.

Clinical trial workflows – or the series of repeatable tasks required to finish a trial – are essential for effectiveness, reliability, and efficiency.

Women using advanced technology for organizing data.

Automation and workflow technologies help improve workflows…

…but they also may be challenging to implement. What you need to think is, will this all be worth it? The answer is yes.

After all, the majority of pharma companies don’t have in-house teams of software developers ready to take on the challenge of designing workflows which actually keep costs down and reduce complexity.

There are also stringent privacy and regulatory expectations that can impact pharma trials’ priorities.

Still, if they can be merged with existing systems, automated workflows eliminate repetitive, and manually intensive processes.

This simplifies data gathering and analysis, improves communications and productivity levels, and facilitates accurate tracking and reporting on process steps and completion dates.

In order to achieve these benefits, pharma companies will need to break through some of the above barriers sooner than later!

Team members in a meeting using advanced technology.

Here Are 4 Ways Technology Can Optimize Clinical Trial Workflows

Trials generate enormous amounts of data. This information is key to identifying operational bottlenecks and generating insights into how current processes could improve.

But to make use of it, pharma companies need to be able to see it, analyze it and put it into action.

Despite the emergence of digital technology in pharma, many companies still lean heavily on paper documentation or traditional tools such as manually created spreadsheets to manage information and patient records.

There are plenty of problems with this traditional approach, including:

  • Not fast enough.
  • It’s historical. (i.e. you can only use it to examine data from the past, or that has already been recorded and stored)
  • It’s prone to user error, inaccuracies, and data loss.
  • It’s harder to share with all stakeholders – you’ll need to configure access to online databases, ensure version control, or deal with paper copies. (none of which are ideal)

Software that can automate record-keeping processes and keep track of systematic workflows doesn’t just save time short term but they also make it easier to make good business decisions that affect the entire pharma life cycle.

To be more specific, here are 4 areas in which it’s possible to use digital emerging technology to cut costs, reduce information solos, and take advantage of automation to make clinical trial workflows more effective.

Device for reaching out to physicians for pharma sales reps.

1. Systematizing Trial Startup and Site Selection

Site selection and study startup are among the slowest and least efficient phases of clinical trial management.

Country selection, site selection, budgeting and contracting, regulatory constraints, and finding enrolling participants all take significant effort and time.

Automation can support study startup planning by outlining systematic tasks in order of urgency. Workflows can be designed based on country-specific regulations as well as individual sites, roles, and activities.

Technology can also be used to recruit patients. For example, one study found that a workflow could be designed to flag potentially eligible patients from routine health information system data in a hospital setting.

To name a few more examples:

  • Process automation can create an automatically updated virtual calendar where upcoming documentation needs to streamline trial startup procedures.
  • Databases can help automatically identify investigators with previous sponsor relationships and identify whether additional documentation of finances, licensing, and other disclosures are up-to-date.
  • Analytics and CTMS platforms can also assemble and visualize data from multiple sites at once, providing organizers and sponsors with accurate, real-time information on site performance.

A study found that inefficiencies often arise from the difficulty of measuring and predicting site performance early on during a trial, software that can identify low-performing sites can also help prioritize investigator time.

Allowing investigators to shut down unproductive sites early, or recommend monitors to visit high-risk sites over others, could save hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted time and energy.

Physician going through data for making decisions.

2. Reducing Repetitive Tasks and Eliminating Bottlenecks

Clinical trials involve lots of workers, many of whom are highly-skilled, MD or Ph.D. – level researchers. Their time is expensive, and when it is primarily spent conducting the same tasks repeatedly, it ends up being wasted.

Common tasks of theirs include creating contracts, processing adverse event notifications and follow-ups, recording patient information, or drafting protocols.

Clinical trial site staff and investigators also often spend significant time inputting data into CRO systems with vastly differing systems for reporting AEs/SAEs and other data.

Although not all of these tasks can be automated, many of them can.

One immediate benefit of optimizing workflows with technology is through standardizing digital tasks, and automating some of the data captures. For example, scheduling patient repeat visits automatically or automatically populating patient data into the online record.

Workflow automation can also generate standardized contracts drafts to replace having to manually rewrite them for each trial. Other tools can compare patient records with previous entries to identify missing data points and potential errors in real-time.

While there’s an initial hurdle to get over when it comes to implementing a solution to do this, automating these tasks saves both effort and cost. When done well, they also reduce compliance errors and eliminate unnecessary delays.

Team of sales reps in a meeting using advanced analytics.

3. Improving Visibility and Business Decision-Making

Clinical trials are, first and foremost, designed to produce information.

To support this goal cost-effectively, all operational processes must be designed for optimal workflow and efficiency, so that:

  • Trials proceed on schedule.
  • All staff roles are defined and well-understood.
  • Important projects and tasks don’t get forgotten.
  • Resources are prioritized effectively and directed at the correct tasks.
  • Process inefficiencies are identified and eliminated.
  • Bottlenecks are removed.

In order for sponsors to achieve these goals, managers need tools to see how trials are progressing and analyze this information in real-time.

Armed with good information, they can address problems as soon as they emerge and allocate limited resources effectively. This requires deep analysis of performance across multiple areas and roles in a trial, from regulatory compliance to site selection, patient recruitment, and daily data collection activities.

Unlike previous traditional tools, which only facilitate analysis after-the-fact, pharma analytics software allows forecasting and immediate visibility of all trial processes. A single workflow program can accomplish this goal.

For example, by segregating and analyzing raw data under a single platform, our pharma data analytics solution lays out everything in a clear and concise way to allow your team to more efficiently do their job.

Using a technological tool to align your daily work with the most important objectives in the study leads ultimately to more efficient work, better enrollment, higher retention, and higher compliance rates – and in the end, that results in faster and more cost-efficient clinical trials.

Artificial Intelligence being used for actual business insight.

4. Regulatory Compliance & Study Validity

Approximately 35% of clinical research costs are spent on compliance.

Meeting regulatory constraints on the first try, rather than after trial and error, significantly lowers this cost and can shorten a trial’s timeline.

Data-driven strategies using analytics and other tools can help improve quality outcomes by eliminating compliance issues.

Data standardization – created through designing effective workflows – is also key to ensuring the reliability of the overall trial, particularly when trials go global.

You are much better off in a Medicare or financial audit when you design workflows that collect data along the way and then organize that data logically whenever the workflow is finished.

When paperwork gets lost or forgotten on someone’s desk, or there are errors in recording it, audit inspections can be delayed, leading to further headaches.

In contrast, when your data are organized and reported within a single software-based source, the auditing process is faster and far less painful for all involved. An advanced pharma CTMS software solution will keep track of anything from financial records through consent from the documentation.

Physician using tablet device.

Automation Removes Bottlenecks and Streamlines Workflows

The potential of digitizing and automating common pharma tasks is still in its infancy.

Pharma companies are often reluctant to change processes, given the challenges of adopting new technology to old regulations and strict compliance guidelines.

Still, in order to compete and counteract the skyrocketing price of developing new medications, reducing inefficiency and looking for ways to streamline clinical trial operations is unavoidable.

With the tools already out there, it’s already possible to:

  • No longer enter data and assign tasks associated with running a clinical trial manually or traditionally.
  • Identify and reduce the current bottlenecks relevant to your organization.
  • Create standardized workflows designed to make start-ups easier, eliminate delays, and implement study protocols faster.
  • Identify cost- and time-saving opportunities.
  • Improve visibility and streamline collaboration between team members.
  • Keep data gathering auditable and compliant with current regulations.

Also, if you’d like to learn more about our CTMS solution or our analytics and data management solution, contact us below for free!

5 Ways To Maximize Pharma Sales Call Effectiveness

With the growing number of physicians avoiding meeting in-person with industry representatives, pharma sales reps have their work cut out for them.

A decade ago, almost 80 percent of providers were accessible to pharma and biotech company reps.

Today, however, we are looking at a completely different picture.

In 2017, only 44% of HCPs were accessible to pharma and biotech company sales reps.

Traditionally, many reps could walk right into doctors offices and get 20-30 minutes with their customers. Those days, however, are long gone.

Today, the average amount of time spent in a sales call hovers around 1-3 minutes.

Male physician shaking hands with a female sales rep.

Not only is it more challenging to find prescribers who will see your representatives in-person, but those who may still be open to doing so drastically cut the amount of time they will devote to listening to a sales pitch.

The pressure has been mounting on the sales force to find ways to deliver results and meet company sales objectives in spite of increasing challenges.

Despite the difficulties present in getting in front of target customers, the sales force of pharma companies continues to be the front line of most commercial sales and marketing strategies.

According to research, 88% of the sales and marketing budget still goes to the sales force.

Unfortunately, organizations are paying more attention to ensuring maximum success from their pharma sales teams and are redefining the meaning of sales force excellence.

So, What is Pharma Sales Call Effectiveness?

Pharma sales call effectiveness is one of the most critical indicators of pharma sales performance.

What your sales reps do consistently in front of their customers and how well they deliver the company approved messages will have a significant impact on their sales performance and the results of the organization.

So, what can you do to improve the effectiveness of every pharma sales call delivered by your team to achieve greater commercial impact?

Female call representative on the phone.

1. Plan The Calls & Utilize Reports

Too often, pre-call planning falls by the wayside. Sales reps frequently overlook its importance and the incredible competitive advantage it can represent.

Time spent in front of customers is truly precious and largely limited. Companies that are looking to succeed in this competitive marketplace must ensure that their reps are adequately prepared to make the most of each customer interaction.

Walking into a pharma sales meeting unprepared results in disaster and the loss of opportunity, of course. Pharma sales reps must plan, think and act fast to maximize the 1-3 minutes they may have with their customers.

It’s not always about who can get to the finish line first, so teach your team to resist the temptation to jump out of the car and race their competitors to the door.

Explain to them the power that lies within pharma pre-call planning and what they need to do to master this fundamental skill.

The best way to achieve effective pre-call planning is by utilizing reports. Make sure your sales teams are equipped with quality reports to help them gain a better understanding of trends and physician preferences relating to their products’ therapeutic classes.

Having up-to-date reports readily available to your sales teams can be a real game-changer.

Innovative pharma analytics and data management solutions are designed to do that and more. Be sure to choose a platform that allows you to generate real-time results that are available from anywhere at any time.

One crucial consideration to make when deciding what reports to arm your sales teams with is to make sure the reports are like Goldilocks; Just right!

Some companies provide too much information which may be counterproductive as the massive amount of data is overwhelming for sales reps.

On the flip side, other pharma companies offer little to no data to their sales force, which can be equally frustrating.

So, by implementing the right pharma data analytics solution your pharma company can provide sales reps with actionable reports from large amounts of data.

Team member using advanced analytics on laptop.

2. Tailor The Approach To The Customer

Approaching prescribers the wrong way can be detrimental to the success of sales calls. Data dumping is a common mistake that new and sometimes experienced sales reps make when pressured by the lack of time.

Instead of delivering canned presentations that likely offer little to no value to the customer, it is essential to learn to establish a rapport to help put the customer at ease.

Showing genuine interest in the practice and the issues that the doctors face every day will help set your sales team apart from the competition!

Two men shaking hands concluding a meeting.

3. Bring New Information The Customer Doesn’t Already Know

There are only a few things that irritate doctors as much as hearing the same old information repeatedly.

While pharma sales reps understand the desire physicians have to learn about innovations and blockbuster drugs, they feel this expectation is impossible to meet.

Even though blockbuster drugs do not come around every day, encourage your reps to bring a sense of newness by exposing a new angle or by highlighting a unique point in a previously presented clinical study.

Capitalize on the extra attention your team gets from customers during product launches, as physicians are generally much more interested in learning about the latest advances.

Also, make sure your sales team has the most recent data and that it can be presented in an engaging format. Audiovisuals, such as videos have shown to increase information retention.

So, tap into technology to enhance client engagement and experience!

Businesswomen using tablet for advanced analytics.

4. Sell With The Patient In Mind

Successful pharma sales reps are masters at effectively conveying that they care more about patients than making a sale. Reps who are willing to go the extra mile and display their commitment to their customers are generally appreciated more.

Helping doctors empower their patients and increase patient compliance is highly valued by many doctors.

Teach your reps to think of all the different ways they can bring value to their customers’ practices and their patients. Providing patient education material is just one of the many ways!

5. Use Cutting Edge Technology

The truth is, the use of technology in pharma sales is not new. Tablets, iPad and other technological advances have been available to the sales forces of many large and small commercial pharma companies.

It is however also true, that even though utilized, technology isn’t used to its full potential.

An effective sales call means showing the right information, in the correct format and at the right time. It’s no longer sufficient to present old data on a reprint.

Technology can take the presentation to a higher level by making it more interesting. Showing a 90-second to 2-minute video, for example, is a powerful way to engage physicians and potentially extend the duration of the call.

Person using laptop and phone to access advanced analytics.

Boosting the effectiveness and efficiency of your pharma sales call strategy is key in succeeding commercially. Above, we went over the following that will help you maximize sales call effectiveness:

  1. Plan The Call & Utilize Reports
  2. Tailor The Approach To The Customer
  3. Bring New Information The Customer Doesn’t Know
  4. Sell With The Patient In Mind
  5. Use Cutting Edge Technology

Pharma companies that strive to improve sales call effectiveness understand the importance of maximizing time spent in front of customers.

They recognize that making the most of each sales call is crucial to help the company grow and achieve its sales objectives.

Technology can drastically improve the quality of sales calls by allowing your reps to prepare adequately for each interaction with their clients. A comprehensive pharma sales operations solution goes way beyond the sales call by streamlining the entire process from start to finish.

Also, if you’d like to learn more about our all-in-one pharma sales operations solution contact us below for free today!

5 Ways Innovative Technology Increases Pharma Sales Growth

Digital technology is continuing to emerge in the pharma industry – when implemented well, sales teams can customize their approach to meet the needs of specific providers and quickly adjust to market shifts.

Of course, there’s still a lot of competition, even with digital technology.

According to a ZS Associates Inc. survey, more than 50% of marketing outreach to doctors now occurs mostly through digital communications.

Furthermore…

If you include all digital channels, the average doctor gets the equivalent of one query every hour from pharma sales reps.

In other words, it’s not enough to just digitize – successful pharma sales teams increasingly need to leverage data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and other more comprehensive CRM and online mobile tools to maintain their edge.

Person using laptop and advanced technology for analytics.

Here Are Four Ways in which Next-Generation Technology Can Increase Pharma Sales Growth:

1. Contact HCPs Where They’re Already Spending Their Time: Mobile

HCPs today spend about 84 hours a year reading digital marketing material.

When HCPs visit pharma websites, they’re mostly looking for information about the products they’re already using.

Just as pharma sales reps must stay up-to-date on clinical trial information and market trends, HCPs face enormous pressure to stay up-to-date on a wide variety of available treatments.

In other words, HCPs are looking for information from pharma companies. Content that is easily accessible and trustworthy is still both needed and wanted.

It’s up to the pharma sales reps to proactively reach out and provide answers.

Since more than two-thirds of HCP engagement is already via mobile, pharma sales reps need to look for ways to move at least part of their communications online.

Pharma sales teams also need to look for ways to provide meaningful content and tools that improve patient outcomes as well as a critical reading of the literature available.

This may seem obvious, however…

According to Kapost, 65% of pharma sales reps can’t easily identify the most impactful content to send to physicians.

This can have serious consequences if it interferes with engagement or makes the physician suddenly become a “no-see.”

sales operations and/or CRM platform can fix this problem, and aid sales teams by:

  • Helping to keep track of often complex meetings and conversations between pharma sales reps and physicians over time.
  • Helping sales reps know what material to reach out with.
  • Streamlining digital communications with providers to take advantage of increasing emphasis on mobile channels.
Male physician on his laptop in his office.

2. Tailoring Messages to the Provider: Closing the Loop

Successful pharma sales reps are increasingly able to react to customer feedback and idiosyncrasies.

To achieve this kind of customized messaging, pharma companies need to be able to to see and measure what approaches influence sales.

For example, research indicates that oncologists prefer data delivered within six months of the product launch. Similarly, when a certain disease enters the public eye or becomes more relevant, pharma sales teams need to quickly adjust the data they deliver during sales calls.

Both market trends and individual variations can and should influence the way sales reps to approach providers.

Instead of inundating providers with communications and hoping something sticks (which is likely one of the reasons so many of them are fed up with sales reps), there’s an opportunity here to make better use of the data available to customize messaging to suit the needs of specific providers.

The right content makes a difference. To build successful relationships, pharma sales reps need to create two-way conversations that extend beyond the old sample drop-off or booth interaction.

Once sales reps understand provider needs, they’re better equipped to deliver against them, while retaining compliance.

Keeping track of multiple touch-points over time is complicated to do manually, but automating this process allows sales teams to:

  • Segment the market and understand the needs of their customers at an individual level.
  • Quickly identify relevant information and send specific studies or data to providers when it is needed.
  • Track provider preferences over time and maintains accurate records of previous conversations, both for better decision-making and for compliance.

When implemented well, the right pharma sales operations and data analytics solutions can detect market trends before they even happen, making for more agile and effective sales teams.

Male physician smiling while on his tablet in his office.

3. Leveraging AI and Data Analytics To Improve Productivity

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies automate some of the most time-consuming sales-related tasks, allowing pharma sales teams to do more in less time.

For example, AI-supported sales tools can often suggest communication templates or recommend relevant content based on previous interactions.

AI is particularly helpful for pre-call planning by making recommendations on what information and content will have the most impact on the meeting, minimizing the time sales reps have to search for relevant materials.

Pharma data analytics tools can also automatically keep track of previous calls, reducing data-entry tasks and paper-based record keeping. Pharma sales reps can also place orders on-site rather than after the fact, increasing their speed and efficiency.

AI is also increasingly effective at linking sales and marketing, learning from past data to determine which tactics and tools will be most effective.

In short, AI-supported CRMs help:

  • Identify and deliver the best, most relevant information during live selling situations.
  • Reduce the time sales reps have to spend on manual research and data entry trends.
  • Quickly identify and provide actionable insight on market trends based on customer interactions.
  • Identify the best practices used by top performers, improving the entire team’s outcomes.
  • In some cases, guide sales reps through the entire sales process, providing data-driven decision support and advice in real-time.
Artificial Intelligence robot using laptop.

4. Streamline Internal Communication

Optimizing the collaboration and communication between pharma sales reps both in and out of the field is essential to increasing productivity and efficiency.

TIP: If you want to learn more about enhancing the effectiveness of communication with pharma sales reps and physicians, read this blog we created: 5 Ways To Maximize Pharma Sales Call Effectiveness.

Digital channels are often very helpful to keep track of team members and communicate effectively, especially when pharma sales reps are in the field frequently.

For example, CRM tools can help you with:

  • Roster management, including assigning tasks, budgeting, and allocating time with sales reps.
  • Simplifying internal communications with a single, centralized messaging interface and built-in templates for faster communication with your team.
  • Providing data to help with territory alignment and prioritization.
  • Establishing uniform incentives for pharma sales reps.

These tools can be essential to simplify the sales process to improve sales numbers, maximize ROI in selling assets, and shrinking the sales lifecycle.

Female team member leading team meeting smiling.

5. Keeping Track Of Everything In The Same Place

Traditional management, minus digital technology, typically involves a lo of physical files, documents, and a lot of paper shuffling and printing before each call.

Sales operations solutions allow everything to be easily stored and located within one dashboard and shared via the cloud. This does away with version control issues and makes the right information immediately accessible to every team member, regardless of where they are.

Centralizing your operations and sales solutions is key. People are most likely to take advantage of both mobile apps and new technology when it fits naturally into how they already work and provides immediately obvious benefits.

Sales management solutions designed for the pharma industry mimic the process of call preparation, and immediately make it faster, reducing the amount of time it takes users to get up to speed and see benefits.

For example, before a call, pharma sales reps might use the system to look up previous call notes to keep their conversation continuous. They might want to know what materials have been used previously and access new information that might be relevant.

Using the software, they could do this either on the go or in the office, and everything’s accessible in one location!

Female physician using tablet.

Digitizing Pharma Sales Is Both A Looming Necessity And An Opportunity

Pharma sales teams today need a technological edge to meet quotas while remaining compliant and following the market trends. Sales optimization software can, and should:

  • Allow all sales reps to see and use everything needed, and access it from the same place.
  • Have the tools and support needed to identify relevant content for providers.
  • Automatically adjust to market changes and provider needs.
  • Customize their approach to specific sales scenarios.
  • Easily and quickly communicate between sales teams in the field and in-house.
  • Conduct the analytics that simply isn’t possible to do manually.

Allowing technology to do more of the manual work that pharma sales reps used to do offers significant opportunities to increase sales team preparedness, offer HCPs real value, and boost efficiencies.

Ultimately, increasing sales numbers and the time pharma sales reps have with HCPs.

How has technology changed your sales approaches? Let us know in the comments below!

Of course, there is a lot of tools out there that can help you, however, few provide everything in just one tool…ours does!

To learn more about our Pharma Sales Operations solution contact us below for free today! We would love to talk with you and explain in even more detail about how our solution can increase your sales growth!

4 Challenges With Managing Clinical Trials & How Technology Can Help

The skyrocketing costs of clinical research are likely the first issue that comes to mind when it comes to barriers to pharma companies’ R&D efforts.

In 2014, the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development found that clinical testing costs as much as $2.6 billion per drug; the cost of drug development has increased by 400% in less than two decades.

However, ongoing research challenges are affecting far more than pharma companies’ bottom lines. To name just one high-profile example:

Pfizer recently realized that patients taking one of their arthritis drugs might have reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s. While that seems like positive news, the company ultimately opted out of testing the correlation. This was due to the risks, difficulties, and cost of R&D not being worth the potential upside.

This case reveals a growing reality within the pharma industry – clinical trials are an essential step towards bringing new drugs to market and driving value, but they are facing increasingly pressing challenges, not only including costs but also:

  • Time: Also, the average testing process takes up to 14 years, so drugs may have only a couple of years on the market before they face generic competition.
  • Complexity: Increasing trial complexity influence both the cost and quality of the research. Testing drugs sometimes requires hundreds of sites, complex protocols, and the involvement of hundreds of highly qualified professionals.
  • Risk Management: Standardizing clinical trial processes to comply with regulations requires extensive planning and IT sophistication.

In situations like the one, Pfizer faced, everyone loses – the patients, who miss out on potentially life-saving treatments, the insurers, who have to pay more for drugs that cost more to produce, and the pharma companies, who have shrinking windows for patented drugs and who face R&D costs spiraling out of control.

Unpacking the specific barriers facing clinical trials – and how to overcome them using the most innovative solutions available – is key to meeting efficiency goals and continue to add value.

4 Challenges With Managing Clinical Trials & How Technology Can Help

Top Challenges Affecting Clinical Trials & How to Solve Them With Pharma Technology

1. Regulatory Barriers and Approval Delays

Given how tightly regulated the pharma industry is, meeting compliance obligations is unsurprisingly among the top challenges getting in the way of timely and cost-effective clinical trial completion.

Especially as trials move globally, they become increasingly constrained by their own complexity. The need to coordinate between multiple sites, partners, and vendors are becoming exceedingly challenging.

In a survey including pharma executives by ICON and pharma intelligence, 43 percent of respondents named regulatory approval delays as the most common challenge.

Even steps as fundamental as version control on consent form documentation can turn into major deviations from protocol – a regulatory disaster – if data isn’t correctly stored and organized.

In fact, more than one-third of clinical research spending goes to keeping trials compliant.

Organizing information using a CTMS software keeps track of all information from the beginning, standardizing your record-keeping and who is authorized to do what, and when.

Analytics tools not only keep you protected in an audit but also make delays less likely, as well as streamlining the entire approval process.

An effective CTMS software will keep track of anything from Sunshine Act reporting through consent form documentation, and make it easier to define investigator and support staff roles at a site-level.

These tools also centralize site activation mechanisms, making it possible to instantly share important records with stakeholders.

Once a trial is underway, record-keeping systems also help keep track of scheduled dates for ethics/IRB submissions and approvals, helping to keep study timelines on track.

Clinical trails

2. Site Selection & Recruitment

About 2 million patients participate in clinical trials every year, but to meet U.S. recruitment goals, 6 million patients would be needed. This reality causes delays or budget issues in as many as 90% of trials.

Recruiting and retaining enough participants to complete a trial is among the biggest sources of delays and trial failures.

Site selection is a critical first step to patient recruitment, and some of the most important parameters for site selection are patient access, infrastructure, and suitability for the given treatment type.

However, according to research done at Tufts, the number of PIs available to conduct research has consistently declined over the past several years.

This makes it more challenging – and more important – that pharma companies have the tools to identify available investigators who have the highest enrollment potential.

Artificial Intelligence or AI can draw operational data from previous trials to predict site performance in the future. Eventually, it may even be able to predict retention, trial success, and whether a drug will result in positive outcomes.

Today, however, using the right software makes it possible to re-use information from a site across multiple trials, reducing the time it takes to select and then initiate a site.

When the same patient population becomes known, these tools can also support increased engagement and better relationships over time.

Clinical Trials

3. Clinical Trial Site Management

Clinical trials have been growing increasingly complex for years.

As the complexity, geographic diversity, and rate of change in trials increases, it becomes more difficult to make decisions and identify potential issues in real-time.

Roles and responsibilities among staff members evolve quickly, and lack of visibility into data, as well as dealing with disparate data sources, makes it touch to respond quickly.

About two-thirds of clinical trial coordinators say they use manually compiled spreadsheets to make business decisions.

This leads to slower problem resolution and an inability to identify underperforming sites (leads to more delays).

Using a CTMS, you can easily generate reports on study progress, financial metrics, staff hours, enrollment goals, protocol deviations, and adverse events.

This software enables centralized monitoring, real-time reporting, rather than shuffling papers and trying to compare sites after the fact or in cumbersome ways.

Clinical Trials

4. Data Management

When trials are underway, ensuring that sites are well-monitored, and data is being accurately captured, is one of the most important priorities of trial management.

Ensuring patient perseverance and completion of the clinical trial protocol requires active data analysis and monitoring to track compliance, including monitoring of endpoint data, deviations, and any adverse events.

Doing this manually, as many pharma companies still are, leads to difficulty updating information quickly and aggregating data from multiple sources and across different systems platforms.

Lab results, imaging, and health records are difficult to integrate quickly, especially with site directors relying on manual spreadsheet methods.

Software for clinical data management has the advantage of instantly centralizing the information, making it accessible by key personnel quickly.

The right solution can integrate across disparate data sources in near real-time, enabling proactive response to SAEs/AEs and seamless monitoring of protocol compliance.

Data managers can also automate result reporting, making it easy to look for trends in patient responses sooner.

clinical trials

Traditional Methods of Clinical Trial Management Aren’t Working Anymore

In the past, clinical trial activities such as…

  • Patient Recruitment
  • Site Selection
  • Intervention Delivery
  • Compliance and Record-keeping
  • Data Collection
  • Etc.

…were all completed using paper-based, traditional methods.

Even though online tools have been available for record-keeping for over two decades, clinical trials have been slow to adopt them.

Today, less than 10 percent of clinical research professionals report having access to the software tools that enable automation of these initiatives.

This should be too much of a surprise given the long lifecycle of drug development being eclipsed by the evolution of digital tech and that pharma is such a regulated industry.

However, given how pressing the challenges currently facing clinical trial management are becoming, using modern tech solutions is the best – and possibly the only productive way to improve diverse areas of research, such as:

  • Overall study quality and validation
  • Risk-management protocol and risk-based monitoring
  • Centralizing of study data and monitoring
  • Site selection and management
  • Site Selection
  • Patient Recruitment and retention
  • CRO oversight
  • Time management

Tools like Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, and CTMS software all reduce the risk of extra cost and delays. Data analysis enabled by these technologies can also reduce overall expenditures and improve the efficiency of future studies.

Clinical trials require a balancing act of speed and delivery against the quality of data and processes to deliver the safest product. Often, the right software makes the difference in this balancing act.

If you’re interested in our CTMS solution for your clinical trials, contact us below for free and let’s chat about it!

Infographic: How AI Elevates The Pharma Industry

In the past, Artificial Intelligence (AI) may have been a fancy buzzword that was constantly heard around various industries. Now, however, the term carries much more meaning, especially in the pharma industry.

According to Accenture, 74% of pharma executives believe AI will result in significant improvement within the next three years.

While you may have heard how beneficial AI has proven to be when assisting with drug discovery, there are many other benefits to implementing this technology into your pharma company.

Whether it’s increased productivity or automated communication, the need for AI in pharma is becoming increasingly more clear as we move forward in this technology-driven era.

Below, we have created an infographic that highlights statistics displaying the need for AI in pharma as well as how AI is elevating the pharma industry.

Pharma AI Infographic

Also, if you’d like to learn more about our Artificial Intelligence technology, contact us below for free and we would love to talk with you about how we can implement the technology to enhance your pharma company!

How to Use Azure IoT Hub, Azure function, and Azure Cosmos DB — Walk-through

IoT is very well-known throughout the corporate world. For starters, this isn’t another IoT article where we’re going to do home automation. This is a simple walk-through about adding a server-less back-end to your existing IoT system.

We’ll touch on how Azure IoT Hub will be used as an event hub or a messaging system for “Things.” Also, we’ll cover how these incoming messages can be routed to the related database using Azure functions.

No devices will be used. We’ll be simulating our PC as a device and use node.js to connect to IoT hub and stream data. Then, we’ll see how the streamed data to the IoT hub can be routed to the DB after some logic. Doing so, by using Azure functions and C#.

Finally, we’ll see how the integration happens where we connect every component to everything.

Architecture

Architecture basic

Fig 1: Architecture basic

The above figure shows the basic architecture or flow of the system. It also should be noted that we’ll be using cosmos DB’s mongo DB API to access the database. This displays the flow of data from a device to the database using an architecture without a server.

Azure IoT hub

Azure IoT hub is essentially an IoT platform. Using this, we are going to send messages from our simulated device.

Technically, the device section of any IoT system is referred to as an edge device. From our simulated edge device, we are going to send data to the azure IoT hub using MQTT protocol.

First, let’s go over how to set the Azure IoT Hub. Head on to https://portal.azure.com and create a new IoT hub.

Azure IoT Hub - Screenshot

Fig 2: Azure IoT Hub — Screenshot

Once created, we will add a new device and name it something relevant. In this case, the name of the IoT hub is “spektro” and the name of the device is “simulatedDevice”.

To create a device, click on the IoT hub you just created and head on to the “IoT devices”, under the tab “Explorers”.

Screenshot - IoT Devices

Fig 4: Screenshot — IoT Devices

After creating the device, the next step is to write a code that will simulate the device and send some exciting raw data. For the code, we will stick to node.js. Use the npm package manager for installing the module.

npm install azure-iot-device-mqtt

After a successful installation, we can use the above dependency. Another important parameter we need to note is the connection string. This will act as a key for our simulated device.

For this, click on the device ID you just created. In this case, it was “simulatedDevice”. Once you click that, you will end up in device details.

Screenshot - Device details

Fig 5: Screenshot — Device details

From this page, you need to copy the “Connection string — primary key”. This will allow the device to communicate. Then it can be copied and pasted.

Simulated Device — Node.js

As mentioned earlier, the dependency needs to be installed. Here we’ll see how the dependency is used to stream data. Our data, in this case, will be a JSON string containing the following parameters.

DeviceID and Data

“Device id” is the one that’s created and “Data” just values varying between 1 to 100.

'use strict';

var clientFromConnectionString = require('azure-iot-device-mqtt').clientFromConnectionString;
var Message = require('azure-iot-device').Message;

function azcall()
{
	var connectionString = 'YOUR CONNECTION STRING'; 

	var client = clientFromConnectionString(connectionString);
	function printResultFor(op) 
	{
		return function printResult(err, res) 
		{
			if (err) console.log(op + ' error: ' + err.toString());
			if (res) console.log(op + ' status: ' + res.constructor.name);
		};
	}

	var connectCallback = function (err) 
	{
		if (err) 
		{
			console.log('Could not connect: ' + err);
		} 
		else 
		{
			console.log('Client connected');
			pubData();
			function pubData()
			{  
				var rand= Math.floor((Math.random() * 100) + 1);
				var data = JSON.stringify({ "device_id": "Simulated Device", "Data":rand});
				var message = new Message(data);
				console.log("Sending message: " + message.getData());
				client.sendEvent(message, printResultFor('send'));
			}
		}
	};
	client.open(connectCallback);
}
setInterval(azcall, 1500);

In the code above, we have used the function azcall() for streaming the messages after every 1.5 seconds. It’s a simple implementation of the azure IoT hub SDK which uses MQTT protocol internally. In the function pubData(), we’re publishing the data to the Azure IoT hub which is a JSON string.

The code is based on the sample provided by the Microsoft team.

https://github.com/Azure-Samples/azure-iot-samples-node

Before executing the code, we have one small step involved. We must check out the incoming messages to the Azure IoT Hub.

There’s a utility by Microsoft known as Device explorer twin. That allows us to monitor the messages. It’s a Windows C# app and can be downloaded from the below Github link.

https://github.com/Azure/azure-iot-sdk-csharp/releases/download/2018-3-13/SetupDeviceExplorer.msi

In order to use this, we need the connection string of the IoT Hub, not the Device. So head back to the Azure portal, and click on Shared access policies.

Shared access policies

Fig 6: Shared access policies.

Click on shared access policies to open the policies panel. Here we are interested in “iothubowner”. Click on it to open the policy details.

IoT Hub - Connection String primary key

Fig 7: IoT Hub — Connection String primary key

Copy the “Connection string — primary key”.

Now, fire up your device explorer tool and paste the connection string in the IoT Hub Connection string input panel.

IoT Hub device utility

Fig 8: IoT Hub device utility

Then, click on update. After the update is successfully finished, click on Data.

Monitoring messages

Fig 9: Monitoring messages

In this section, the device that you created from the portal before should appear on the Device ID drop-down. Select your device and click on the monitor.

Now, head back to the folder, where your node.js code was written and execute the code using any IDE. Or in this case, we used Windows Powershell.

Powershell window

Fig 10: Powershell window

At the same time, maximize the device explorer tool and then we’ll see the incoming messages as shown. Fig 11.

Incoming message stream to the IoT Hub

Fig 11: Incoming message stream to the IoT Hub

If everything is done correctly, the messages should appear here, which means that messages are being received by the IoT Hub. Now that we can send messages to the IoT Hub, we can write a server-less API for routing these messages to the Cosmos DB using Mongo DB API. Initially, we’ll set up the cosmos DB such that we know where exactly we need to route the data.

Azure Cosmos DB

Click below for a detailed description of Cosmos DB. Understood correctly, it’s a very informative write-up!

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/cosmos-db/introduction

Create a Cosmos DB from the Azure portal as a new resource and select MongoDB under API drop-down.

Cosmos DB

Fig 12: Cosmos DB

After your deployment is completed, head on to the DB you created. In our case for reference, the name of the DB is “spektrodb”. This Cosmos DB is based on documents and it’s unstructured DB. Therefore, we can create new documents on the run-time. We just need to create a database for now under the name of “database_spektro”.

MongoDB database create

Fig 13: MongoDB database create.

For now, we’ll leave it in this way and just copy the connection string as it will be required in our Azure function. Head on to the DB you just created and click on quickstart.

Cosmos DB

Fig 14: Cosmos DB

Keep the above data primarily to the connection string under .NET section somewhere saved locally. You may also want to have a look at the code as it’s going to be used in the Azure functions.

Azure functions

It’s like a micro-service that gets going whenever there is any triggers or requests. Here, we are interested to trigger an azure function whenever there is an incoming message in the Azure IoT Hub.

Before that, let’s create an azure function first. Head towards the Azure portal and search for azure function. In this case, the name of the function is “spektrofunc”.

Azure function

Fig 15: Azure function

Click on a new function.

Azure function -1

Fig 16: Azure function -1

Next, click on the custom function and navigate to “IoT Hub (Event Hub)”.

Azure function -2

Fig 17: Azure function -2

After that, a configuration window will open where we will configure our IoT Hub named “spektro”. You can name your function anything. We named it as “spectroIotTrigger”. Under the event hub connection, click on new.

Azure function -3

Fig 18: Azure function -3

Here, click on IoT hub and the name of the IoT hub should appear.

Azure function -4

Fig 19: Azure function -4

Click on select and finally on create.

Now, your function is ready for you to write code in C#.

Azure function -5

Fig 20: Azure function -5

Before writing the code, let’s find out how the already provided sample will work. In order to test the sample code provided, we need to click on test and logs, which is a place where the messages or errors are displayed.

Click on run and the test message should be displayed.

Azure function -6

Fig 21: Azure function -6

We can also test with our device simulator in node.js. Just execute the code in the back-end, and the messages will be shown in the log window.

Azure function -7

Fig 22: Azure function -7

Now, we can see the incoming messages in the azure function. The next task is to handle these incoming messages which will be used to publish data to cosmos DB.

Cosmos DB integration in Azure function

Before jumping off to integrate cosmos, we must include the dependencies. Adding dependencies in azure functions is a bit tricky. Click on “View files” just above the “Test” button. Then, we need to add one file named “Project.json”.

In the file, we need to manually declare the dependencies. For cosmos DB with MongoDB API, we need MongoDB driver. For handling JSON, we need Newtonsoft.json. You can also declare the .net version.

Let’s declare them using the following JSON.

{
  "frameworks": {
    "net46":{
      "dependencies": {
        "Newtonsoft.Json": "10.0.3",
        "System.ServiceModel.Primitives":"4.4.0",
        "MongoDB.Bson": "2.4.0",
        "MongoDB.Driver": "2.4.0",
        "MongoDB.Driver.Core": "2.4.0"
      }
    }
   }
}

Now, click on save and then browse to run.csx file.

Include all the necessary “using statements”.

using System;
using System.Runtime.Serialization;
using System.ServiceModel.Description;
using MongoDB.Bson.IO;
using MongoDB.Bson;
using MongoDB;
using MongoDB.Driver;
using System.Security.Authentication;
using System.Text;
using Newtonsoft.Json;

Now, save it and run the file. If there isn’t any compilation error, then dependencies have been successfully installed.

Let’s write the code for decoding and pushing data. Our target is to create a new document named after the device ID. Then the document will contain the required parameter ID and parameter values.

In this case, it will be displayed as shown: {“Data”:”12″}

using System;
using System.Runtime.Serialization;
using System.ServiceModel.Description;
using MongoDB.Bson.IO;
using MongoDB.Bson;
using MongoDB;
using MongoDB.Driver;
using System.Security.Authentication;
using System.Text;
using Newtonsoft.Json;
using Newtonsoft.Json.Linq;

public static void Run(string myIoTHubMessage, TraceWriter log)
{
    log.Info($"C# IoT Hub trigger function processed a message: {myIoTHubMessage}");
    string deviceId="",data="";
    var raw_obj=JObject.Parse(myIoTHubMessage);
    deviceId=(string)raw_obj["device_id"];
    data=(string)raw_obj["Data"];
    Cosmos cosmos= new Cosmos(deviceId,data);
    cosmos.pushData();
}

//CosmosDB class
public class Cosmos
{
    string deviceId="",data="";
    public BsonDocument document = new BsonDocument();
    public Cosmos(string deviceId, string data)
    {
        this.deviceId=deviceId;
        this.data=data;
    }
    public void pushData()
    {
        MainAsync().Wait();
    }
    public async Task MainAsync()
    {
        string connectionString = 
    @"";
    MongoClientSettings settings = MongoClientSettings.FromUrl(new MongoUrl(connectionString));
        settings.SslSettings = new SslSettings() { EnabledSslProtocols = SslProtocols.Tls12};
        var mongoClient = new MongoClient(settings);
        IMongoDatabase db = mongoClient.GetDatabase("database_spektro");
        var icollection = db.GetCollection(deviceId);
        document.Add("Data",data);
        await icollection.InsertOneAsync(document);
    }

}

The code above is the azure function written in C#. It decodes the JSON received in the string message from the azure IoT hub. A class was created to handle the MongoDB message push.

We pass the parameters through a parameter constructor and by an async call. Then, we push the data to the CosmosDB using MongoDB API. There are two options for testing the code. You can create any name for the DB.

Recall the “Test” area where there was some sample message.

Azure function screenshot for testing

Fig 23: Azure function screenshot for testing

In the test area, you can replace it with a JSON and click on run. This should execute the code with the sample input. Run a test for any errors.

Now, let’s check this with the simulated device code we have written earlier in node.js. Head on to the local folder and start the node.js code. Once it starts executing, go to your CosmosDB and click on “Data Explorer”.

Cosmos DB - Data explorer

Fig 24: Cosmos DB — Data explorer

Click on the database that was created and then on the table name which is basically the device ID. Our device ID was a simulated device as in the node.js code. After we click on documents, the JSON files appear. Click on anyone and you can check out the data.

Conclusion

We have seen how we can simulate an IoT device using node.js and send messages to the IoT hub. Finally, we route the messages into respective tables in CosmosDB based on the device ID and stream data. This has a lot of use case(s).

Let’s take an example of telematics data from a car or any machine to be sent to the DB after a certain time interval. From some kind of remote weather station or any IoT use cases where data is involved.

Now that you know the flow of data, why not comment some use case(s) which perfectly fits in this flow? The part that we didn’t cover is the use of rule engines which can be programmed in the azure function. Another topic for another article!

Curious about how Azure can impact your business? Get in touch with us today for a free consultation below on how the various Azure platforms can help you grow your business.

How Pharma AI Benefits the Time to Market for New Drugs

Artificial Intelligence is a rising star – meteoric, actually – in most industries, including pharma. But, do you really know how pharma AI can affect your business?

Pharma artificial intelligence can help you drive revenue growth and operational efficiency by powering in-depth data mining and analytics, patient engagement, compliance monitoring, and making efforts. It can impact your R&D time and costs, too!

On average, successful drug research and development takes upward of ten years, and the clinical trials success rate is less than 12 percent according to estimates. That’s far too long and costly to result in profitable R&D operations.

Thankfully, you can leverage pharma AI to boost clinical success rates, cut costs, streamline and shorten the drug design, testing, and validation cycle.

A look at how AI transforms pharma company operations will help you make an informed decision if you haven’t adopted the technology yet. Perhaps, answers to the following questions will help see why AI can be a worthy investment:

  • What pharma processes or elements can AI impact?
  • What’s the role of machine learning in healthcare outcome monitoring?
  • How does AI impact pharma speed to market?
  • What’s the effect of AI in pharma sales productivity and revenue growth?

Let’s find answers by examining the most critical ways that pharma AI can affect the time to market for new drugs…

Let’s start with the good news:

1. Integrated Information Systems and Automated Big Data Mining Speeds Up Drug R&D

One of the most significant benefits of artificial intelligence in the pharma industry is rapid drug research and development.

It involves the use of machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) algorithms, which “train” integrated computer systems to automatically extract and analyze massive chunks of raw genotypic and phenotypic data relevant to drug R&D.

The system streamlines and fast tracks the collection of big data from the Internet of Things (IoT) devices (such as wearable health monitoring gadgets), medical research journals, patient management software, and other public and private databases.

AI systems that gather R&D data automatically and relatively fast helps to shorten the medicine discovery time, which is longer with a human-centric effort. Pharma companies can increase their speed to market and gain a competitive edge by delivering new drugs to hospitals and patients comparatively fast, which results in turnover growth.

2. Accurate Predictive Pharma Analytics Help Boost Clinical Trials Success Rates

AI-driven pharma R&D delivers predictive analytics, enabling researchers to pinpoint with a high degree of accuracy the right compounds for manipulating diseases. It provides in-depth insights and data necessary to validate and test drug concepts as well as optimize treatment delivery methods.

It can cost up to $2B to research, iterate, test, perfect, and validate a drug concept. However, the cost can come down with the accurate prediction of drug candidates, which increases the probability of clinical trial success.

AI-powered analytics helps to eliminate trial and error in the drug discovery process, and this can reduce overall R&D costs as it allows pharma researchers to present more viable solutions for approval by the FDA most of the time.

3. Tracking Medication Adherence 

Low medication compliance rates among patients participating in a clinical trial can slow the drug R&D process. Likewise, the inability to monitor the extent to which each candidate is adhering to a prescribed drug can undermine the testing and validation phase.

Traditional health IT systems and human-centric approaches (such as requiring the patient to memorize their dosage) have not solved the non-adherence problem.

Patient taking medication in hospital.

AI can help track pharma compliance rates in several ways. For example, indigestible IoT sensors transmit adherence information to a centralized database, enabling pharma researchers to monitor and analyze drug usage against treatment results and side effects.

The technology can track critical biometrics in the patient, including blood pressure and glucose levels. It can pinpoint anomalous outcomes based on the intelligence gathered via machine learning.

Another approach is facial recognition software. It involves a patient recording themselves taking a drug, after which the AI algorithm analyzes the video to confirm that the right candidate took the pill.

4. Improvement of Treatment Outcomes by Virtual Collaboration and Coaching 

The success of any drug in the market depends on its ability to solve the intended healthcare problem. However, an otherwise appropriate medical solution may fail if the patient is not using it correctly out of ignorance, or certain lifestyle habits are hindering outcomes.

AI changes that.

A “smart” healthcare system can process natural language, and that makes it possible to “advise” patients in real-time in a language they understand, without necessarily involving a real, human doctor.

The system draws from vast amounts of healthcare data and medical records to provide highly personalized, evidence-based answers to questions that patients ask.

Businessman and businesswoman touching icon of digital screen

For example, robot-like assistants can help reinforce behavioral changes necessary for drug compliance and successful treatment. Advanced systems may also pose questions to patients, for example, to help understand why they’re skipping doses.

AI-powered IoT technology can then transmit the data to a pharma content management system for real-time monitoring. Improved treatment outcomes mean more business for pharma companies.

5. Streamlining Pharma Sales Process   

AI-powered pharma sales software can impact reps productivity and turnover in a big way. For instance, the tech can help study industry trends and customer preferences, such as the treatment options a particular practice or doctor prefers the most.

Businessman with headsets using computer in office at night

A sales team may use that intelligence in pre-calling planning to gather relevant promotional and informational material. Effective pre-meeting preparation increases the chances of converting leads to sales. It can help boost pharma revenue.

The advantages of pharma AI nutshell…

Pharma AI speeds up the drug R&D process, enabling companies to differentiate their products by delivering healthcare solutions to hospitals and patients faster than otherwise possible. It reduces R&D costs while boosting clinical trial success rates, which translates to increases profit margins for pharma businesses.

Integrating IoT and AI into patient management solutions helps to improve medication adherence and treatment outcomes, resulting in in-market success. The tech can also boost pharma sales productivity and revenue.

Now, for the bad news. There do happen to be a couple of slight detractors to using AI in the pharma industry:

1. Patients May Not Always Cooperate 

For pharma companies to monitor drug use and effects using AI-powered technology, participating patients must be willing to interact with the system consistently.

For example, a candidate may decline to ingest a biosensor or film themselves taking a pill. Without collecting vast amounts of consistent patient data, ML algorithms cannot “learn” and extract the intelligence necessary to help pharma researchers or providers to draw accurate conclusions on treatment outcomes or drug efficacy.

2. Incompatible Legacy Health IT Infrastructure 

The majority of current health IT systems do not naturally lend themselves to AI and big data mining applications.

With most of the healthcare data available in disparate, structured and unstructured sources, extracting in-depth insights for tasks like remote treatment outcome monitoring and patient engagement is usually difficult if not impossible.

As such, pharma companies have to develop (or acquire) interoperable health IT infrastructure before they can leverage AI to tap into data from diverse sources, and to extract predictive analytics/business intelligence, which enables them to make informed, real-time choices.

The fact of the matter is that presently, most healthcare systems are not AI-ready. 

Not all patients or healthcare facilities may adopt the interoperable AI infrastructure needed to supply pharma companies with large volumes of data for in-depth ML analytics.

Leverage AI to Boost Your Overall Pharma Business Efficiency (and Profits) 

Artificial intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry outperforms human-centric patient or customer data collection and analysis techniques. It’s a game-changing and product-differentiating piece of technology.

By incorporating AI into your pharma management system, you can increase business revenue and profit through enhanced speed to market, effective patient monitoring and compliance, and improved sales productivity. Contact us for free below and let’s chat!

5 Use Cases for Commercial Pharma AI Beyond Drug Discovery

Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short, has been one of those buzzwords that’s been circulating throughout the healthcare industry. Most recently, it has been widely considered to be extremely beneficial for drug discovery and in clinical trials.

However, that’s just a very small aspect of the total benefit that pharma AI can bring to the table for the pharma and biotech industries.

According to a study by Accenture, pharma AI can potentially create $150 billion in savings for the United States healthcare economy by 2026. 

Constantly hearing about the incredible benefits of AI while still not fully understanding what it can do and how it can help can be very frustrating and often deter companies from embracing it.

Artificial intelligence business man.

Before we dive into AI and its benefits, let’s briefly go over its definition:

AI consists of various computer systems and predefined algorithms with the ability to perform tasks that normally require advanced human intelligence. 

Some of these tasks include:

  • Visual Perception
  • Speech Recognition
  • Decision-Making
  • Translation Between Languages

The idea of “human versus machine” has been replaced with “human + machine” and if that just piqued your interest, it should. Pharma AI has entered the beginning of a golden age, and it is expanding into everything from manufacturing to marketing trends.

You may have wondered how patients feel about receiving AI-enabled healthcare?

54% of patients are willing to receive AI-enabled care. 

With over half of patients in favor of AI-enabled healthcare, it shows how far AI has already come in the pharma industry.

Now, will incorporating AI alone suddenly result in millions in revenue right away.

No. 

However, when AI is paired with the right tools and platforms such as Microsoft’s Cortana Intelligence Suite and pharma-specific solutions, the results will begin to show quickly.

Woman looking at a medical interface in the hospital

So, How Can Commercial Pharma AI Be Used Beyond Drug Discovery 

1. Targeted Content Delivery in Marketing

The pharma industry has come a long way since the traditional methods of marketing blockbuster drugs, thanks in large part to the integration of AI and other state-of-the-art technology.

With the addition of pharma AI, huge amounts of raw data can be collected, sorted, and interpreted in real-time. Due to this, pharma AI has the ability to improve your commercialization in some key ways:

  • Marketing Strategies
  • Product Launch
  • Product Value Proposition
  • Customer Engagement

In the past, general marketing strategies have worked because the drugs that they were selling had an impact on a large population of patients all at once, otherwise known as blockbuster drugs.

Now, with the rise of a more patient-centric approach within the industry, pharma companies need to market in a more targeted and specific way.

Unfortunately, the traditional pharma marketing systems can no longer be successful in this new pharma because they’re both sluggish and inaccurate.

With pharma AI, on the other hand, pharma companies can aggregate, process, and convert massive amounts of unstructured and difficult to manage data sources to gain rich insight into how consumers are making decisions.

By implementing the right algorithms paired with a powerful analytics solution, data can not only be accessed but can also be used to precisely target consumers who are most in need of your product or service.

“Using data intelligently to power go-to-market strategies has to be a priority if commercial teams want to stay ahead of the competition and increase both their REACH and their PRECISION.” – Dr. Dolores Baksh, GE Healthcare Life Sciences

Success in pharma marketing often requires a lot of complex decision-making, which can get overwhelming and stressful very quickly. Thankfully, pharma AI can provide your company with data analytics to reduce stress, save time, and deliver high-quality results!

“AI-powered analytics is perfect for pharma marketing departments because it can undertake large volumes of complex decisions by going through data-sets at a high degree of accuracy.” – Sudeep Pattnaik, CEO, ThoughtSpace 

The end result is a solid marketing foundation that allows you to target the right consumers or population leading to a better commercialization and pharma marketing strategy.

Doctor using phone and laptop for marketing.

2. Manufacturing Optimization 

You’re probably familiar with the old saying, “everybody makes mistakes.” Well, what if we can change that to, “Artificial intelligence DOESN’T make mistakes,” at least when speaking about pharma manufacturing.

Why is pharma manufacturing optimization so important?

The process to fully develop and test a new drug can cost up to $2.7 billion. 

Of course, not all of that money is spent in the manufacturing stage of drug development.

The various studies that need to be conducted in order to bring the drug to market constitute about $10 million to $2 billion of the total amount, but here’s the kicker…

90% of drugs that begin testing in humans don’t reach the market because they are either UNSAFE or INEFFECTIVE. 

So, errors in manufacturing could not only hit you at an unexpected time, but they can also be extremely costly. That’s where pharma AI comes into play.

Using predictive analytics, AI and Machine Learning (ML) can predict and prevent:

  • Under-demand
  • Over-demand
  • Supply chain problems.
  • Production line failures.
  • And more!!

With that being said, how exactly can AI and ML do this?

Well, instead of humans sifting through the massive amounts of raw data for hours looking for anomalies, AI and ML can do it much more quickly, efficiently, and accurately at a lower cost.

Pharma AI can be beneficial to your company’s manufacturing sector by providing:

  • Increased speed.
  • Increased precision.
  • Enhanced employee safety.
medical pills industry factory and production indoor

3. Discovering and Evaluating Pharma Market Trends 

The last thing that any pharma company wants to worry about is being the last to know about an emerging trend in the market.

Being the last to know could set your company and product development far behind your competition and you’ll end up playing catch-up.

Traditionally, the best ways to discover emerging market trends were networking, website researching, and sifting through professional studies.

However, in the current technical age, pharma AI helps your company be the first to know about an emerging trend before it happens, giving you plenty of time to plan and execute.

Applications of AI such as ML and Deep Learning (DL) have the ability to analyze large amounts of data to make sure you are the first to witness any potential market trends.

By following a programmed algorithm, these applications of AI can quickly dig through these large data-sets. This would take much longer for humans to do.

The word “analyze” doesn’t quite fully define the magnitude of automated work that will be done for your pharma company using pharma AI. Instead, the term “dynamic understanding” more effectively describes the capabilities of AI and ML-enabled processes.

ML can provide your company with a dynamic understanding of the entire market in real-time, providing the best results.

After the data is produced, your company can benefit from being fully aware of the following:

  • Market Size.
  • Patient Segmentation.
  • Targeting.
  • Provider Segmentation.
  • Payer Segmentation.
  • Messaging.
  • Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) activities.
Image of businesspeople at presentation looking at virtual project

4. Prescriber Segmentation 

As the pharma industry becomes increasingly more patient-centric, the way pharma companies create and commercialize drugs are becoming more prescriber specific.

In 2016, there were 4.45 billion prescriptions written throughout all of the United States. 

Based on that statistic alone, can you even imagine how long it would take to sort through all of the data involved for each individual prescriber? It would simply take forever!

Pharma AI helps you and your team free up time typically spent on more mundane or administrative tasks to instead focus on tasks that lend themselves to the company’s long-term goals.

For example, some types of data that pharma AI can generate efficiently are:

  • Therapy starts, changes, and add-on prescriptions.
  • Compliance and persistence.
  • Managed care access for the brand.
  • Group practice affiliation.

For instance, let’s say you want to segment prescribers into the following groups:

  • Promotion
  • Payer
  • Product
  • Patient

By leveraging pre-programmed AI algorithms to calculate large data-sets, you can create more specific groups for the four segmentations above. Let’s say two of the more specific groups are “Price-driven” and “Range of communication.”

A study that conducted similar prescriber segmentation discovered that 71% of prescribers were more specific with how they would like to be contacted, while only 29% of prescribers had a larger range of communication preferences.

Traditionally, finding this would not only take a ton of time, but it would also require significant resources to pull off within a reasonable timeframe. So, why spend all the time and resources on a task that can be done much more quickly and efficiently with AI?

Symbol of social network with people images-1

5. Chatbots

A research firm, Gartner, predicts that chatbots will handle 85% of customer service issues by 2020 and 40% of patients won’t mind talking to a chatbot as long as the information is accurate.

When people think of chatbots, they only think of the little pop-ups that come up at the bottom of the screen of websites. With the integration of AI, chatbots can be expanded in multiple ways that make your job easier and the experience much better for your consumers.

First, let’s briefly go over how AI-enabled chatbots can benefit your pharma company’s website since it is the most common understanding of the technology.

You can’t always be there to respond to every website visitor all day and every day. However, AI-enabled chatbots can help bridge the gap by providing basic information to visitors on your website and social media when they need it.

According to a State of Chatbots report in 2018, 64% of website visitors expect 24-hour chatbot customer service while 55% of website visitors expect instant responses. 

Plus, by incorporating certain algorithms into ML-enabled chatbots, insights from every conversation can instantly be learned and processed to ensure that a more human-like response is given with every encounter.

This way, you’re giving the user EXACTLY what they want. A response that is accurate, compliant, quick, and available 24/7, 365 days a year!

So, what are other ways chatbots implemented with AI can be beneficial for your pharma company?

  • Track patients after discharge.
  • Check on patients with chronic diseases.
  • Track clinical trial participants.
  • Help users find and talk to doctors.

AI-driven chatbots can also be beneficial when developed around a specific treatment option. This would allow physicians or patients to get information that is relative to their needs for either prescribing or starting treatment. This includes the ability to access:

  • Adverse Events
  • Tolerability
  • Dosing
  • Efficacy
  • Financial Resources
  • And more!

It’s clear that incorporating AI-powered chatbots into your pharma company can save time while also ensuring that website visitors, patients, and prescribers are all getting accurate information very quickly!

Business person working on computer against technology background

Pharma AI saves time and money so you can focus on tasks that drive long-term success.

By integrating pharma AI solutions into your company operations, you will reap benefits far beyond drug discovery and development.

While many of these benefits will take some time to manifest, you will see an increase in production, efficiency, and reduced cost progress over time, all with minimal involvement on your part.

1. Targeted Content Delivery Marketing

2. Manufacturing Optimization 

3. Discovering and Evaluating Pharma Market Trends

4. Prescriber Segmentation 

5. Chatbots 

Applications of AI such as ML, DL, and Predictive Analytics are being incorporated into pharma operations every single day with great, lasting results.

How will your company leverage the power of artificial intelligence to provide better products, services, and support to your audience?

Want to learn more about pharma AI? Or, curious about our artificial intelligence pharma solution built on Microsoft platforms? Get in touch with us for free today by clicking below!

3 Things Pharma Companies Should Know About Territory Alignment

A key component of any company is sales. The product or service must be sold in order for the business to continue running their business.

Pharmaceutical companies aren’t immune to this requirement. This is why they run advertisements online, on the radio, on billboards, and on television. Yet, it’s not only individuals with conditions and diseases that they need to expose their product to.

Pharmaceutical companies also need to convince doctors that their drugs work and could be beneficial to patients. It’s for this reason that pharmaceutical representatives are sent out into the field, to speak with healthcare officials, and showcase the newest drug developments.

However, pharmaceutical companies don’t just hire representatives and let them loose to go to any doctor or hospital they can find. The company creates a territory for each representative. They’re told where to go and how often they should go.

This process is called Sales Territory Alignment.

This process is the most effective way to cover the most territory and ensure that doctors are communicated promptly. Also, it’s an excellent way to incentivize pharmaceutical sales representatives, the science, research, and the technology behind it that’s growing rapidly.

What Does Pharmaceutical Sales Territory Alignment Mean?

At its core, pharmaceutical sales territory alignment is an aligning process that assigns work to sales representatives according to either account listings or geographical areas.

Sometimes, the process is referred to by other names. Such as sales territory re-alignment, sales force alignment, sales force deployment, or sales territory design.

Male physician shaking hands with sales rep.

However, in order to optimize sales, pharmaceutical sales territory alignment has smaller benchmarks in order to reach this goal:

  • Allowing new products or organizational change to dictate territory modification.
  • Ensuring that there’s an equitable workload for all sales representatives.
  • Enabling the company to downsize, thus creating cost reductions.
  • Minimizing travel time for sales representatives.
  • Providing more consistent contact between doctors and sales representatives, which improves customer service.
  • More effectively matching sales representatives with customer types that match their abilities.
  • Establishing uniform incentive opportunities for all sales representatives.

The process of sales territory alignment must be redone on a regular basis because customers, products, trends, and sales representatives go through periods of adjustments and growth.

What Is Considered When Aligning Sales Territory?

Every pharmaceutical company does sales territory alignment in its own way. This is because, even though these companies sometimes sell similar drugs, they have different company needs, structures, and goals.

Most companies create their own territory alignment strategy through balancing factors like travel time, sales potential, and more.

Many companies also tie their territory alignment to their incentive compensation period, which is generally a quarter or a trimester.

By doing this, the territory alignment helps the pharmaceutical representatives see which doctors they need to visit. As well as, which ones will count toward earning a bonus in each incentive compensation period.

Meeting with sales men discussing analytics on a tablet.

Additionally, the pharmaceutical company needs to ensure that they do not waste the potential of any of its representatives by giving them too small of a territory or territory with too few customers. This is also true if the territory is too large or has too many customers.

There are the considerations of ensuring that no representative spends too much time in the car and that multiple representatives don’t have an overlap in territory.

Any of these mistakes both increases the cost of a sale and minimizes growth in revenue.

What Are the Methodologies for Pharmaceutical Sales Territory Alignment?

As previously stated, every pharmaceutical company will use a slightly different process for aligning their territories. The following are the most common methods and what exactly those methods entail:

sales-territory
  • Account Alignment:
    • With this methodology, geography does not matter. Representatives may live a short drive away from one doctor, while another doctor in their territory could require a plane flight to be reached.
    • Oftentimes, pharmaceutical companies will divide the accounts into specialties.
    • In other words, certain representatives will only see pediatricians, while others will only see cardiologists.
    • Allowing the representative to specialize in a specific drug or set of drugs and become more knowledgeable.
  • Geographic Alignment:
    • This is the most common type of alignment used in pharmaceutical companies because it can reduce travel time and travel expenses.
    • With this alignment, pharmaceutical representatives are assigned doctors based on where they are geographical.
    • Depending on how big the company is, how many representatives there are, and doctors needed to be seen, alignment could be grouped by anything from region, state, country, or postal code.
  • Geographic-Account Combination Alignment:
    • This alignment methodology involves a combination of the geographic alignment and the account alignment in order to get the best of both worlds.
    • The one downside of this process is that it can be much more complicated to create.
    • For example, it may give one representative all of the doctors in five adjoining postal codes, but make an exclusion of a handful of specialist doctors, who are given to another representative.

Therefore, perfectly aligning a pharmaceutical sales territory is complex and requires the company to keep in mind their sales goals, continuously collect sales data, and consistently review territories to ensure that best practices are in place. If you would like to learn more, contact us for free below!

The Ultimate Pharma Patient Journey Mapping Guide for Marketers

Nearly 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug, and more than 50 percent take two. That’s a staggering statistic, but few industries can touch the lives of that many people; transcending race, geographic location, socioeconomic status, or any other demographic that differentiates us.

However, traditionally, the people making these life-saving drugs have very little contact with the patients that actually use them. Outside of traditional television ads, pharmaceutical companies have been ineffective at communicating with their customers, before or after their initial interaction with the brand.

The fact is that patients typically rely on their doctor or nurse for advice or reassurance about the use of a certain drug or therapy, with little to no knowledge of who is actually making their recovery possible.

Now, the question is, can pharmaceutical companies join this circle of trust and become part of the patient journey? Absolutely! But, it takes a little hard work and a lot of listening and learning to genuinely understand the intricacies of pharma patient journey mapping.

Here’s a basic rundown of what the patient journey is and what pharma marketers need to know to get into the game.

First of All, What Is the Patient Journey?

The pharmaceutical patient journey is a representation of how the typical user, or patient, move through the healthcare system and interacts with each entity along the way.

For example; most patients begin their journey with the realization that something is not quite right and a trip to the doctor may be in order.

From there, the patient moves through their journey by interacting with their primary care physician, a specialist, pharmacists, and finally the product itself.

Optimizing how your company fits into this digital patient journey is an integral part of a smart pharmaceutical marketing plan and an amazing patient experience.

So, How Do You Streamline Digital Pharma Patient Journey Mapping for Best Results?

Define Your Goals

When it comes to pharma patient journey mapping, the first step is to nail down your goals, both in the short-term and long-term as it relates to your product and ideal patient.

The top three things to aim for with your patient journey optimization are Engagement, Advocacy, and Adherence.

Engagement: Every marketer worth their salt wants high engagement rates. It’s a simple fact of Marketing 101.

However, pharma marketing is a little different in that brand engagement also lends itself to healthier patient habits and eventually higher patient adherence rates.

Advocacy: Another standard goal of marketing, advocacy is a critical asset to pharma marketing and the pharma patient journey as a whole.

Advocacy means that your product and brand are making a genuine, positive impact on the health and well-being of your patients and they genuinely want to share that goodness with their friends and anyone else who will listen.

Adherence: This is a big one. One of the most significant problems facing healthcare and pharma today is the average patient treatment adherence.

Becoming part of the natural patient journey and providing relevant, valuable information along the way helps improve adherence by boosting trust.

These represent both the overall goals of your patient journey mapping and marketing efforts, but the overall goals of the individual product itself.

Settle on A Smart Digital Approach

The average consumer actively engages in thorough information gathering and comparison before making a decision, no matter how large or small. Whether they are searching for a new home, car, clothes, or cosmetics, most consumers turn to their smartphones to compare prices and reviews. Fortunately, the pharmaceutical patient journey is no different.

Research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 80 percent of Internet users have searched for health-related topics online. That’s about 93 million Americans.

However, pharmaceutical companies are still relying on mass-media advertising, field sales teams, and localized physician advocates to present their products to uninformed consumers.

But, the fact is that most patients are anything but uninformed.

A quick google search of any condition, disease, or pharmaceutical treatment will return immediate results. Unfortunately, some of those results are less than flattering.

So, why can’t pharmaceutical companies be the source of the most reliable information for their patients? As the healthcare industry shifts to a more patient-centered approach, also affectionately known as pharma 3.0, patients are becoming more empowered.

They want to…

  • Gather all the available information.
  • Digest it.
  • Get advice or input from their peers.
  • Make their own informed decisions.

By being part of that patient journey from day one, through effective patient journey mapping, pharmaceutical companies can provide both the best care and create the most effective marketing strategy to promote Engagement, Advocacy, and Adherence.

Define the Ideal Customer Decision Journey

For years marketers have relied upon a generalized “sales funnel” approach to represent how customers move through the stages from product awareness to purchase.

However, the digital age has made this approach largely obsolete for the pharmaceutical industry. Instead, pharma marketers are now developing their strategies based on a theory called the “customer decision journey” or patient journey mapping.

Why?

Simply put, new technology has radically changed the way customers make purchasing decisions. In fact, researchers at McKinsey & Company identified some recurring factors of modern customer behavior that directly impact how decisions are made:

  • Customer loyalty is at an all-time low.
  • Consumers feel obligated to shop around, and technology makes it easy to do so.
  • Family, friends, and celebrities are big influencers.
  • Social media continuously reminds consumers that they have options.
  • Consumers trust reviews and recommendations that they read from strangers more than what companies or brands say.
  • This is a commoditized market, and every purchase is up for grabs.

Researchers concluded that the survey “shows us that brands need to win back the trust of consumers” and that process starts with understanding the patient journey.

Design Your CareFlow Exhibit

In the pharmaceutical industry, digital patient journey mapping is done by what pharma marketers call a CareFlow exhibit.

A properly optimized CareFlow exhibit tracks the patient journey from the first time the patient detects a problem, through their treatment and advocacy phases.

Your CareFlow must map the entire process as the patient does his or her research, consults with others, considers the cost of treatment, fills a prescription, has side effects, and ultimately decides to continue or stop treatment.

Each of these points is an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to engage the patient by providing information, supporting their decision, or offering comfort measures.

Properly understanding and leveraging these opportunities is key to effective patient journey mapping and a strong marketing strategy moving forward.

Three Emerging Trends to Consider When Developing Your Patient Journey Map

There’s no doubt that the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry has undergone a digital transformation in recent years. With the advent of pharma 3.0 and the integration of strong social media platforms, pharma marketers must work even harder to stay in the game.

These recent emerging digital trends are reshaping patient care, and your understanding of them will directly impact how joining the digital transformation will keep your patient journey on the right track.

1. Outcome-Based Care

Insurers, as well as the government, have placed greater emphasis on patient-outcomes, forcing pharmaceutical companies to prove the tangible benefits of their products.

For example; digital health monitoring technology has enabled patients to wear sensors that collect and analyze data in real-time, monitoring their condition between visits to their doctor. This data directly demonstrates a drug’s effectiveness for that particular patient or scenario.

Person holding a smartphone while monitoring his/her digital health using a health app.

In the coming years, there’s no doubt that technology will be further integrated with prescriptions. Combining rich data analytics about activity, nutrition, and the human biological system will provide caregivers and physicians the opportunity to intervene early.

2. Patients Want Engagement

Patients are evaluating healthcare products and services themselves, without the input or knowledge of the brands. They are already using available portals to view medical information, fill prescriptions, and make appointments.

Digital engagement from pharma has limitless opportunities, including information sharing and trial recruitment. Do your part to inform and influence patients where they are spending their time, like via mobile apps and social media. Use those outlets to offer advice, answer questions and be the patient’s trusted advisor for all things pharma.

3. More information Is Always Available

Digital technology and online communities have paved the way for patients to gain access to information previously controlled by pharma companies.

Now, patients are searching for other patient experiences, ways to monitor a drug’s effectiveness, and any tips they can get their hands on to help them make the best decision possible for their health and well-being.

This is your chance to BE their go-to information source:

  • Use content marketing to publish research or case studies.
  • Maintain a blog on the latest developments, common questions, or tips to overcome side effects.
  • Use video to demonstrate how to effectively use certain products.
  • Host a live video and field ACTUAL patient questions on the fly.
  • Host online forums with experts that can answer questions about specific drugs.
  • Launch a public Facebook or LinkedIn group for support or information.
  • Initiate discussions on stigmatized topics, such as mental health.
  • Talk about the impact of diet and exercise on the efficacy of treatment.

Helping the patient feel like the pharmaceutical industry, and your company specifically, is a guide on their journey to better health, not just a drug manufacturer goes a long way in improving Engagement, Advocacy, and Adherence.

Brands across all industries are scrambling to keep up with an effective multi-channel marketing approach that yields true ROI. As a pharma company, think about smart digital patient journey mapping and focus on:

  • What are they looking for in their social spaces?
  • What are they asking and what responses are they getting?
  • How can you best answer those questions and establish trust?

Focusing on your patient instead of your drug provides valuable insight into how pharma decisions are made, effectively shaping your digital patient journey map and your marketing strategy.

According to Pharma’s Growing Opportunity in Patient Services survey, 95 percent of pharmaceutical companies said they would invest in patient engagement technologies by 2018.

Did you?

Respondents also said patient services will become the standard of therapeutic customer support, not a niche add-on. Is your pharmaceutical company keeping up with the shifting landscape?

Follow this simple guide to pharma patient journey mapping for marketers to ensure that your company is leveraging each potential opportunity in the patient journey to engage and educate your prescribers. If you would like to learn more, contact us today for free below!

6 Important Pharma Data Collection Sources To Keep An Eye On

In this digital age, the term “data” can often be much like a loaded question; many industries have an overabundance of raw data available but a distinct lack of understanding of how to deal with that data. The pharma and biotech industries are no exception.

The growing level of accessible, quality, real-world healthcare data is causing quite a stir throughout the pharmaceutical industry.

Recent findings indicate that applying specific data strategies to innovation optimization, improved efficiency of research and clinical trials, and transitioning doctors, insurers, and regulators to the rapidly shifting individualized, patient-centric approach to healthcare is consistently identified as a top priority among pharma leadership teams.

Colleagues standing in a data center in front of drawings of charts

Pharma data collection and analytics are so essential to the future of pharma that nearly 40% of pharma professionals identified it as the most significant trend in the industry for the coming year. 

Relevant data collection and uses identified by respondents include…

  • Determining potential drug candidates.
  • Monitoring of clinical trials.
  • Analyzing trends in electronic health records.
  • Improving tracking of patient statistics.
  • Predicting healthcare outcomes.
  • Designing treatment protocols.

Much like any other industry, there is an enormous amount of raw data available to pharma companies, but harvesting and harnessing that data can require a bit of work.

In order to remain competitive in the rapidly evolving field of pharma data, organizations must understand the following:

  • Which data sources available are relevant to the pharma industry.
  • The unique differences between these data sources.
  • The importance of the information provided by these data sources.
  • How to harness this information to benefit your company.
Physician on laptop on a desk while holding a pen.

Primary vs. Secondary Data Sources

All data is not equal, which is especially true in the pharma industry. To simplify things, pharma data typically fall into one of two categories: primary or secondary data sources.

Primary Data Sources

A primary data source gathers information through direct interaction with the end-user and through purchased data. This type of information is obtained when…

  • Physicians are attended by a sales rep.
  • Prescription history.
  • Patient participates in a clinical trial.
  • The patient is involved in treatment where a medical claim is generated.

Primary source data is essential as it provides vital information gathered through study, trial, testimonial, or other forms of direct interaction between a patient or provider and a pharma product.

Secondary Data Sources

Secondary data sources gather information through market research and often use data gathered in databases and registries. Examples of pharma secondary data sources include…

  • Various forms of social media.
  • Websites
  • Sunshine Act Database
  • FDA database

Something to keep in mind is that secondary data source information is typically public information available for free and provides valuable information that can help you reduce costs, advance sales, and adjust the focus of your company.

Proficient young male employee with eyeglasses and checkered shirt, explaining a business analysis displayed on the monitor of a desktop PC to his female colleague, in the interior of a modern office

Regardless of the source, both primary and secondary data provide timely, relevant, and important information essential for evaluating and identifying strategic opportunities in the overall global pharma market.

Examples of Primary Data Sources In Pharma

1. Clinical Trials 

Clinical trials are advanced research programs designed to test whether a new medication, treatment option, or medical device is as effective or more effective than current devices or treatments currently used or prescribed to patients.

Recent reports estimate the average cost associated with developing a new medication to be more than $2.5 billion, with nearly 60% of costs coming directly from the associated clinical trials. 

These clinical trials are essential in providing detailed information about the safety and efficacy of pharma products, indicate who is able to use and benefit from the drug and highlights important side effects, interactions, and potential dangers associated with it.

Without the data provided through the clinical trial phase, the breakthroughs realized through new pharma developments have no value and their benefits will go unnoticed.

Hand typing on modern laptop notebook computer with future graph icons and symbols

2. Patient Testimonials 

It’s no secret that patients are the ultimate beneficiaries of the advances in medical science that help them overcome diseases and life-threatening challenges.

However, due to the nature of the pharma sales process, more often than not, pharma companies aren’t able to make a direct connection with the patient and rely heavily on the prescribers to educate the patients.

Over the last decade, companies have built great patient assistance programs and patient testimonials are increasingly important.

“There is no greater partner we can look for in healthcare than the patient,” says Cheryl Lubbert, President, and CEO, Health Perspectives Group. “By incorporating the patient’s voice early and often, we can expect better health literacy, better adherence, and better health outcomes. 

In fact, patient testimonials are so effective, research conducted by Remedy Health demonstrated that…

9 out of 10 patients who have heard an inspirational story about another patient reported becoming more hopeful, which inspired them to take action. 

This action includes trying a new treatment or medication, going to the doctor, exercising, or eating healthier.

Writing on clipboard with patient in background in hospital

3. Adverse Events

While adverse events are an uncommon occurrence, managing and tracking adverse events is a crucial data component for a pharma company to stay legally compliant with the FDA as well as to improve the conditions of future trials.

In this regard, the FDA has made guidance documentation very clear and readily available to help pharma companies ensure compliance.

4. Sales Operations and CRM Software 

Strong, efficient data collection and analytics are an essential component to effectual sales operations for any pharma or biotech company.

This is often achieved through…

  • Building strong customer relationships.
  • Enhancing sales team performance.
  • Monitoring the customer’s decision-making process.
  • Efficiently monitoring and managing operational costs.

Sales operations and analytics software platforms within a pharma company analyze a large amount of data to develop a comprehensive promotion strategy and target universe.

Examples Of Secondary Data Sources 

5. Social Media

Social media continues to transform the way the pharma and healthcare industries do business, especially in the evolving age of patient self-information.

Studies show that 80% of social media users are actively using the platform to search for health-related information. Also, over 90% of 18-24 year-olds report that they considered the health information provided on social media to be reliable. 

Shocked young business woman using laptop looking at computer screen blown away in stupor sitting outside corporate office. Human face expression, emotion, feeling, perception, body language, reaction

Social media users also report sharing their first-hand experiences on a wide variety of health and medical topics over social media, including…

  • Coping with chronic conditions.
  • Treating acute illnesses.
  • Choosing a healthcare provider.

In addition, an increasing number of social media users are looking to their doctors to actively share information about new drugs, benefits of new medications and treatments, and updates on specific illnesses.

60% of social media users report that they trust what doctors post on social media. 

By engaging in social media about health-related topics, people are able to share their stories and experiences, as well as find treatment recommendations and options that have worked for others in similar medical circumstances. Social media provides a massive, active network for pharma data collection.

Companies are using these developing patient portals to glean information from end-users of pharma products and services.

Data gathered through social media channels can also help drive marketing campaigns by providing a rich well of potential marketing material such as patient testimonials and stories that when integrated into marketing materials are instantly relatable and give people the opportunity to make an emotional connection.

6. Sunshine Act Database 

Each year, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act published data that discloses to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) payments made to teaching hospitals and physicians, as well as manufactures holding interests in those companies.

Businessman drawing business statistics on glass wall-2

The Sunshine Act Database provides current data on over 28 million records related to nearly $17 billion in clinical trial-related payments to doctors, hospitals, and healthcare organizations. 

Most of these payments are provided in the form of travel, research, gifts, meals, and speaking fees.

The database also details information pertaining to the ownership interests that physicians and their family members have to clinical trial organizations.

This data provides valuable information that has significant implications for the impacts of the efficiency of your organization.

2009 survey discovered that 84% of physicians interacted financially with drug, device, and medical supply manufacturers.

These relationships often resulted in swayed decision making that directly correlated with inflated healthcare costs.

Having access to the type of pharma data provided through the Sunshine Act Database is critical to understanding the value attached to drugs.

Especially in a time when…

One in four prescriptions drug users reports difficulty affording their medication costs. 

Background image with financial charts and graphs on media backdrop

Are You Ready To Access Actionable Pharma Data and Analytics For Superior Outcomes?

In the current era of open healthcare information, a wide variety of valuable pharma data is available and accessible to prescribers and patients alike.

Pharma organizations that demonstrate the ability to collect, analyze, and respond to relevant pharma data also demonstrate the ability to better meet the needs of their customers/patients, accelerate innovation, and increase revenue and overall value.

We at Prescriber360 provide powerful, streamlined access to the most relevant primary and secondary pharma data sources available including:

  • Clinical Trials
  • Patient Testimonials
  • Adverse Events
  • Sales Operations
  • Social Media
  • Sunshine Act Database

We proudly serve as a premium pharma data solutions provider, allowing you to focus on your resources and efforts on implementing this knowledge, adapting to customer needs, and achieving better results and increased earnings for your business.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them below in the comment section!

Want to learn how our advanced pharma analytics and data management platform can provide you with the information you need to enhance your company’s performance? Request a free platform demo today below!

7 Top Technology Trends Shaping the Future of the Pharma Industry

Every industry is changing at a more rapid pace. Products and services are becoming increasingly commercialized. Technology is playing a progressively bigger role in research and development, marketing and advertising, and sales and distribution.

The pharmaceutical sector is one that has felt this transformation in research and development over the past few years and will start to feel it in the other divisions over the next decade.

Here are a few of the trends that will shape the pharmaceutical industry over the next ten years:

Artificial Intelligence

It’s very likely that within the next decade, humans will no longer be pharmaceutical test subjects. Instead, cognitive computers will be used in biotechnology and genomic research.

Rather than it taking months to see the effect of a particular drug on thousands of people, it will take seconds to see the effect of thousands of drugs on billions of simulations of the human body’s physiology.

Artificial Intelligence

In fact, there’s already one supercomputer program, Atomwise. This program has been used for similar purposes. It has the ability to search through existing medicines that could be re-purposed to more effectively treat diseases.

This type of molecular structure search and analysis would normally take months, if not years. In 2015, Atomwise identified two drugs in less than 24 hours, that could reduce Ebola’s infectiousness.

Digitization of Medicine

Every company, in every industry, is coming to the realization that a product or service isn’t enough. A complete package must be offered and this package should be digitally friendly.

In the pharmaceutical industry, this trend is growing so quickly that there’s a name for it, ‘Around the pill’ digital offerings. These offerings include everything from digital health apps to services and devices that can be bundled with the prescription.

As this grows in popularity, it will prove to be a game-changer when it comes to pharmaceutical marketing and advertising, as well as distribution.

Body Sensors

Body sensors are a new technology that’s currently still in clinical trials. These sensors can either be placed on the body or inside of it. They measure various critical vital signs.

body-sensors

One sensor that’s already being used is a digestible sensor. These are sensors that are inside of the pill and track both the drug being digested and how well the drug is being absorbed into the body.

It has been seen to be especially effective in overseeing prescription adherence with schizophrenia, major depressive disorders, and bipolar I disorder.

3D-Printing

In 2015, the very first pharmaceutical was 3D-printed. As this manufacturing method gains popularity, it will likely completely transform how the pharmaceutical industry operates, in terms of its supply chain.

Hospitals and pharmacies could potentially print the pills that they need in-house in ten years’ time.

Additionally, the University College of London is testing ways to print pills in fun shapes for kids. Thus, making it easier for them to take and can make it a potential commercial goldmine.

For those B2B companies that are involved in the sales, sales operations, and marketing of pharmaceuticals, these new trends could open many doors in terms of new forms of revenue and profits.

Personalization and Precision of Medicine

Whole new fields of pharmaceuticals are opening up and over the next decade, will only continue to widen and gain significant depth. It’s becoming less expensive and more commercially available for patients with various illnesses to get precision medical treatment.

Therefore, more money is flowing into pharmaceutical research that aims to discover how to target medication more efficiently (e.g. how certain drugs could attack cancer cells and avoid attacking the other cells).

DNA Molecule

It’s also becoming more commercially viable for patients to work with companies like myDNA. This organization, and others like it, analyzes a patient’s DNA to identify which medications will be most effective for a specific treatment plan.

It’s likely that over the coming years, rather than medications being manufactured for millions of people with an “average” or “median” DNA and molecular makeup in mind, medicines and their dosages will become unique to every patient.

AR and VR

Augmented reality is slowly creeping into every aspect of our lives, and that includes pharmaceuticals. Some pharmaceutical companies are looking at allowing patients to better connect with their prescriptions by translating the descriptions on the bottle into 3D.

Instead of having to read along, and a nearly indecipherable pamphlet on how the drug works, patients could be much more engaged with a visual AR demonstration.

Virtual Reality Device

When it comes to VR, it’s been believed that if the pharmaceutical industry pursues and invests in the technology, more new streams of revenue from pharmacies that provide virtual reality treatments could be opened up.

The treatments won’t be applicable to many diseases, like cancer or pneumonia, but rather as a treatment for pain and stress.

Patient Involvement

With new technology and innovation, patients are gaining more power. They now have the ability to have more of a say when it comes to their body and their health.

Thus, pharmaceutical companies will need to start taking patient needs, thoughts, and desires into consideration. Products will be more successful if patients are involved in their creation and distribution.

It’s likely that over the coming years, many companies in the pharmaceutical industry will create patient advisory boards. This has already become an integral part of several healthcare conferences where patients either help to organize the event or speak at it.

The pharmaceutical industry is changing at each level.

In order to survive and thrive in this environment, it’s more essential than ever for companies in the industry to explore and invest in the latest technology and innovations.

Are you interested in harnessing some of these top-notch technologies to move your business forward? Get in touch with us today for a free consultation on the top technologies that can impact your business the most.

Top 5 Pharma CRM Approach-to-HUB Services to Watch Out in 2018

HUB services have been around for about a decade now. In the past, pharma companies were beginning to recognize that there was more involved in bringing new drugs to the market than just getting the dosages into distribution channels.

In addition to more common concerns, pharma was experiencing more and more restrictions from payers. Particularly, from the Prior Authorization (PA) form. This was very time-consuming and had to be filled out ahead of time by the prescriber.

Therefore, the HUBs focused more on reimbursement and prescriber support. Initially run in-house, as the use of HUBs broadened “prescriber support” to “patient support,” third-party HUB service providers began to enter the market.

To date, this vertical industry shows no sign of slowing growth.  

The Culture of Pharma

Arranging R&D, commercial development, production, supply chain and even further disconnection from the stakeholder-facing parts that deal with regulators, policymakers, prescribers, and the end-consumer, is the culture in most pharma companies.

This culture is the primary obstacle to providing transparency, building relationships, and facilitating trust. The outsourcing of HUBs to third-party providers fit into this culture nicely. 

HUB Services in the Age of Patient Centricity

Healthcare is in the midst of a transformation from a provider-based to a patient-centric system.

Powerful forces from patient advocacy groups to policymakers, and the patient’s themselves, are working to ensure that standards of transparency, cost-reduction, results-based practices are met.

Deloitte identifies the following as the driving forces of patient-centricity in healthcare:

Patient- Centricity Healthcare

The aging population suffers from more chronic illnesses driving up costs.

  • Policymakers, pledging to reduce costs by requiring more significant evidence of effectiveness and cost comparisons.
  • Big data analytics and innovations like genomics are enabling faster diagnosis and precise treatment plans.
  • Boundaries between the patient, provider, and other participants are increasingly blurred as new collaborative relationships are formed.
  • Patients are more connected than ever. Their expectations of information and personalized care are growing.

Today’s consumers are more empowered than ever before to take part in their own care. They are demanding more access to information that’s relevant to their conditions and all available information regarding treatments.

Pharmaceutical companies answer to many stakeholders in a broad range of areas such as:

  • Pricing
  • Evidence of value
  • Types of drugs they develop
  • Return on research investment
  • Patient compliance
  • Patient satisfaction
Patient Hub Services

In 2016, Accenture released a report suggesting that while companies in both the United States and Europe were investing more into HUB services, there was still a glaring problem.

The majority of patients were unaware the services were available to them. Accenture predicted that digital channels would be useful to make sure that patients are aware of HUB services.

Accenture also pointed out that online platforms linking the patient, HUB provider, and prescribers together would provide a better experience for all concerned. However, that leaves a critical player out of the mix.

With the push towards results-based medicine and patient centricity, the ability to engage with the patient/consumer has never been more important.

Patient’s Mistrust of Pharma

From doctors to pharmacists, patients choose providers they trust and with whom they have built a relationship. When it comes to faceless drug manufacturers, there’s less control, little choice, and far less trust.

Patients generally go along with their doctor’s medication recommendations, but not without question. While this is true for patients of all ages, the mistrust is even more pronounced among the millennial generation.

Furthermore, millennials are less likely to trust and abide by their doctor’s orders than older generations.

Could better utilization and application of patient HUBs help pharma build real relationships and establish trust with patients?

In-House HUB Success

For pharma companies to successfully bring management of HUB services in-house, they need to work hard to improve efficiencies throughout.

Currently, the priority is toward the design and management of proprietary application programming interfaces (APIs).

This allows HUBs to work seamlessly, transferring massive amounts of data within a standalone portal. Aside from the technical investment, pharma companies must consider the necessary HUB requirements from at least three different perspectives:

hub-services
  • The Vendor: The most positive feature of providing HUB services internally is that you control all aspects of the client relationship. Of course, you do run the risk of jeopardizing turning out quality products, by trying to be all things to both patient and provider. This is the reason third-party providers were born in the first place.
  • The Client/Patient: It’s nice to have options. When vendors partner with service providers to create more streamlined HUBs, usability and experiences are improved.
  • The Prescriber: The strategy pharma uses may not matter as long as PAs are handled and patients are provided with financial support services such as copay assistance if indicated.

Rethinking the Approach to HUB Services: A Progressive Strategy

Of the most popular third-party HUB providers many are affiliated with or owned by other stakeholders like insurers, pharmacies, and health systems:

  • CareMetx – Walgreens
  • CoPilot Provider Support Services – CareMed
  • EnvoyHealth – Diplomat
  • Lash Group – Drug wholesaler, AmerisourceBergen
  • Omnicare Specialty Care Group – CVS
  • OptumRx – United Health
  • Opus Health – QuintilesIMS
  • Sonexus Health – Cardinal
  • Triplefin – Wholesaler, H. D. Smith
  • UBC – Express Scripts

A progressive strategy which incorporates third-party technology, management, and facilitation to allow better integration with various provider-based systems may have the best chance at success.

While improving patient experience is vital, developing a relationship and building trust can’t be overlooked.

Patient Care Experience

Third-party HUB service providers who happen to be supply chain stakeholders (such as the HUB service providers who are connected to pharmacies) may be more resistant to share valuable patient data and may wish to limit access to the patient. 

No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

It sounds like a lot of work, but think of it like this: Aren’t you already using similar technology to manage customer data and relationships through sales and marketing channels?

What if these same tools could be used to bring HUBs in-house?

By approaching HUB services as another arm of customer relationship management (CRM), pharma can utilize existing SaaS technologies to successfully integrate HUBs in-house.

At Prescriber360 we already have a handle on the workflows that exist in healthcare. Our systematic approach to data collection, analytics, and strategy not only supports sales and marketing but is also geared toward patient engagement and health outcome monitoring.

This is an increasingly important part of value-based care.

How to Measure Pharma Salesforce Effectiveness the Right Way

In 2019, commercial pharmaceutical companies operate in a progressively changing environment; the ever-increasing pressure to reduce healthcare costs puts the industry under even greater scrutiny from both the public and regulatory bodies.

Unfortunately, this drive to cut costs in the marketplace can directly impact the availability of research and development resources which in turn impacts the company’s ability to bring new, innovative drugs to market.

This is primarily because the drug approval process is extremely lengthy and expensive; with an average of only 1 in 5,000 drugs that ever make it to market, the odds of launching a blockbuster drug are slim.

Regardless of the unfriendly forces at work in the marketplace, the ultimate goal of a commercial pharma company is to provide life-saving products while remaining profitable

Smiling pharmacist and customer discussing a product in the pharmacy-2

So, with so many negative factors outside the company’s control, the attention naturally shifts to improving internal processes to gain a competitive advantage and achieve operational excellence on multiple levels.

Achieving excellence in sales, in particular, remains to be one of the most critical areas of focus for any pharma or biotech organization looking to thrive in this new environment.

So, they must be fully committed to measuring salesforce effectiveness the right way to truly understand how success can be achieved and replicated across the organization.

The salesforce of the organization plays a pivotal role in driving prescriptions and generating revenue.

Several factors play a vital role in incompetent and consistently effective salesforce:

  • Difficulty bringing new products to market.
  • Managed care pressures.
  • Lower profit margins.
  • Reduced access to prescribers.
  • Longer sales cycles.
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The Traditional Method of Measuring Salesforce Effectiveness

About a decade ago, measuring salesforce effectiveness was much more straightforward because the pharmaceutical-medical landscape was far less complex.

At that time, tracking a few specific key performance indicators was sufficient enough to evaluate the performance of your sales reps:

  • Call Goal Attainment
  • Territory and Customer Coverage (Reach and Frequency)
  • Sales Goal Attainment

Although these metrics are still being utilized today, they no longer paint a complete picture and must be augmented by a variety of new metrics:

Favorable Access to Doctors

In years past, direct access to doctors was relatively easy. Whether your reps could get in front of their target doctors and deliver the approved marketing message wasn’t a concern.

Now, territories can change annually and the difference between territories can be extreme; making access to doctors more limited for certain sales reps.

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Simple Decision-Making 

In the past, a doctor’s decision-making process was relatively simple.

Previously, managed care did not have much influence over the prescribing decisions of physicians, allowing pharma reps to easily fulfill their primary purpose of educating physicians on the benefits of their drugs and ultimately to influence their prescription choice.

Now, a doctor’s prescribing decision is heavily influenced by managed care plans, accurate and thorough educational information, and by the patient’s themselves.

Unique Products With Unique Selling Points 

Much like most marketable products, successful prescription drugs have unique characteristics.

Twenty years ago, the market was much less crowded, leaving a much bigger piece of the pie for each new market entrant.

With only a couple of options available in each therapeutic class, reps could easily sell the benefits of their products and convince doctors to prescribe them for their patients.

Now, the market is saturated with many different drugs in each therapeutic class and projected efficacy.

Serious doctor listening to patient explaining her painful in his office

So, How Can You Measure Salesforce Effectiveness The Right Way? 

While some of the basic principles of successful selling in the pharma industry are still in use today, others no longer hold.

It is no longer enough to call on the right customers (Reach) at the right number of times (Frequency) to ensure success.

Among the elements that add to the complexity of the current selling environment:

  • Rapidly changing the pharma-medical landscape.
  • Lack of truly unique products.
  • Increased influence of managed care organizations over doctor’s prescribing decisions.

These factors and many others contribute to the fact of what’s necessary for success in one territory may be completely different from what’s needed in another.

So, the question naturally arises – How should we measure sales force effectiveness in a changing marketplace? 

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Yes, it is still essential to make sure your reps call on the right prescribers the right number of times. But, it is also important to make sure they meet their daily, weekly, and quarterly call goals.

However, reaching 100% on ALL these metrics will no longer guarantee success because these metrics by themselves don’t go deep enough.

They do not answer these important questions:

  • How did we achieve the results that we currently have? 
  • How do we replicate these results in the long term? 

To better answer these questions and more accurately measure and replicate salesforce effectiveness, your pharma company must also measure:

  • What they know.
  • How they behave.
  • How consistently they apply their knowledge.

These three areas will give you a more in-depth understanding of the quality aspect of your salesforce’s performance.

Medicine doctor hand working with modern computer interface as concept-1

Knowledge

Here are examples of specific areas to measure when it comes to the level of acknowledge of your salesforce:

  • Customer
  • Territory
  • Product
  • Therapeutic Class
  • Selling Skill
  • Competition

Behavior 

Due to the subjective nature of behavior assessments, determining how your salesforce behaves in customer interactions is a bit more difficult, but certainly not impossible.

Here are two of the most effective ways to measure sales reps behavior:

  • Role Plays
  • Field Coaching

Consistency

The third and final measurement refers to the sales rep’s consistency in the application of knowledge and behavior.

The answer to this can be somewhat wrapped into the Reach – Frequency – Call Goal Attainment Numbers.

If your reps excel in all three of these AND have high Sales Goal Attainment numbers, they are likely to be performing at a higher level in all other markers – knowledge, behavior, and consistency of application.

On the flip side, however, high Reach – Frequency – Call Goal Attainment – with low Sales Goal Attainment may indicate subpar performance in one or more of the following measurements – knowledge, behavior or consistency.

Double exposure of businessman shows modern technology as concept

Measuring salesforce effectiveness the right way is not only useful in the short-term but vital to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your long-term salesforce strategy.

Without this information, you will not be able to elevate your sales team’s performance, because you won’t be able to pinpoint the skillsets necessary for success, regardless of the complexity of the environment.

Tailored technology solutions, like robust sales operations software, can help give you the tools to measure some of these metrics easily and efficiently so that you can focus your efforts on building a first-class salesforce.

In your experience, have you found another critical element of salesforce effectiveness that wasn’t mentioned here?

Please let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear about your experience and make this a more comprehensive resource for other pharma and biotech companies.

Top 5 Benefits of IoT For the Pharma Industry and How to Harness It

The Internet of Things (IoT) has had a massive effect on many industries worldwide. But, the pharmaceutical industry has been rather conservative in adopting technological change, so the effects haven’t been felt as strongly across the pharmaceutical and medical device industry yet.

However, the IoT has incredible potential to help pharma and device companies improve quality output, reduce costs, and even change the way that medication is delivered to the prescribers.

To help you make the most informed long-term business decision, we’re outlining the top 5 benefits of IoT in the pharma industry and how you can harness it to grow profits and improve patient relationships.

What Exactly is IoT?

The Internet of Things, also commonly referred to as IoT, is the network of physical internet-enabled devices that enables seamless cross-device communication.

Essentially, it allows all of the devices within your organization to effectively “talk” to each other, using the data that they collect and send to streamline communication and encourage smart process automation.

There are two broad areas where the IoT could have a significant impact on the pharma industry: The production and administration of pharmaceuticals.

Here are the Top 5 Benefits of IoT For the Pharma Industry and How to Harness It to Grow Your Business

A Glance at The Benefits of IoT in Pharma Production

Immaculate production and quality control measures are an absolute bust in the pharma industry. When you’re working with a potentially life-saving substance or device, anything could go wrong.

  • Leakage of a dangerous liquid or gas could harm workers or create a fire hazard.
  • An improperly produced medication can be ineffective or toxic.
  • An equipment failure can interrupt production and require a expensive cleanup procedures.

However, introducing a network of connected devices with monitoring sensors can reduce the risk of machinery malfunctions and guarantee precision production by detecting issues and making adjustments before they cause a problem.

Industrial Mechanics and Maintenance

Industrial monitoring devices are already in widespread use in the industry, but real-time status information isn’t widely available yet.

Pharma IoT monitoring sensors can instantaneously feed all relevant facility data into a single dashboard, alerting a supervisor to abnormal conditions or to necessary maintenance requirements.

Plus, they can also connect to automatic shutoffs to immediately and remotely handle critical conditions as they arise.

Material Tracking & Management

Connected devices can easily track the availability of materials in real-time, allowing for better inventory controls and reduced costs.

Tracking the source of supplies is important to maintaining quality and speed of production, and the potential risks of ingredient substitution, counterfeit medicines, or the theft of drugs can have serious consequences for a pharma company.

Pharma IoT-enabled data-gathering devices located in shipping and receiving stations can collect information from RFID tags and barcodes and correlate the information from multiple locations, including production facilities and warehouses, to verify whether data is consistent.

By signaling restocking needs when supplies reach appropriate levels, they reduce both the need to stock extra supplies and the risk of running out at a critical time in the sales process.

Supply Chain and Logistics

Tracking finished products throughout the supply chain provides enhanced control over your pharmaceutical or device inventory.

Computers that correlate the data can determine how much more production is needed and identify batches that have passed their expiration date. If a batch is recalled, tracking devices make it easier to locate and remove it from the supply chain.

Regulatory Compliance Consistency

Pharmaceutical production processes have to be well-documented to establish and maintain consistent regulatory compliance.

Pharma IoT connected devices can continuously send data to a server to establish that quality standards are met, which effectively reduces the amount of manual paperwork and potential margin for error.

Rich Insights Into Production Process Health

The information gathered through IoT connected devices can be used in more advanced ways as well.

Data analytics software can determine what areas are most prone to issues, pinpoint inefficiencies, and potential cost overruns so that improvements can be put in place to boost productivity and profitability.

Enhancing Patient Connectivity and Adherence

The second most important aspect of pharma IoT is its inherent impact on patient adherence and overall health. In this digital age, everything is technically enhanced, even prescription or OTC medications.

Smart Pills and Implanted Devices

Leading pharmaceutical companies are using smart devices to administer medications and monitor their effect on patients. This includes the delivery of medications or medical monitors in “smart pills.”

One use is simply to check whether patients, especially ones with lapses in memory, are taking their medications on schedule. If they miss a beat, it will give them a prompt reminder on their phone to help get them back on track. If they fall too far behind schedule, it can notify their physician to step in.

Smart pills or implanted devices can also detect changes in a patient’s condition. For example; if there is a serious event, such as a hypoglycemic episode, the device can immediately alert a physician or paramedic.

Couple of doctors talking and using a tablet computer

More routinely, it can inform the patient of how well the medication is working. If the effect moves outside acceptable bounds, the patient can consult with the doctor for a change of treatment.

Being on a millimeter scale, smart pills have a very short transmission range and are typically used in connection with a transponder which may be worn or implanted under the patient’s skin.

Smart Wearable Devices

A more common and often more affordable (not necessarily more effective) application of IoT in pharma is the use of dedicated mobile apps and wearable devices designed to incentivize or encourage patient adherence.

Traditional monitoring of patients relies heavily on subjective evaluations. Unfortunately, many patients don’t report any symptoms prior to needing medical attention, and they may be unable to notify anyone when a crisis hits. That’s where IoT comes in.

Woman working out measuring fitness analytics.

Real-time monitoring backed by IoT networking can detect the early signs of a serious medical event and alert the appropriate party.

Larger, external devices are already widely used to transmit ongoing data analytics and individual patient condition metrics to a remote server, where doctors and pharmaceutical company representatives are able to monitor progress and issues.

Clinical Trial Optimization

Clinical trials are an obvious application of active monitoring with IoT connected devices.

Monitoring the effects of experimental medication in real-time helps to assess its effect. It allows quicker detection of adverse reactions, reducing the participants’ risk and improving the quality of the test data.

Ingestible and wearable external IoT-connected devices can simultaneously gather data and transmit to integrated software that provides detailed readouts that paint a complete picture of the patient’s condition or issue alerts. This invaluable resource allows for enhanced processes and a streamlined optimization process no matter what your company is selling.

Doctor conducting research on a sample.

What’s In Store for the Future of IoT in the Pharma Industry?

The pharmaceutical industry is heavily regulated, and mistakes can incur serious liability which means that the entire industry tends to be a little cautious about adopting any technology. However, the immense value of integrated IoT in pharma organizations is easy to see and even easier to prove.

The addition of IoT in production facilities — what’s known as the “Industrial Internet of Things” or IIoT — faces the fewest barrier to entry. Typically, anything that provides better quality control and lowers the risk of workplace accidents isn’t likely to raise objections.

However, any device that administers medical treatment or reports patient data is very likely to fall under HIPAA privacy and strict security regulations. Unfortunately, the Internet of Things has acquired a reputation for devices with poor security, which online attackers can easily break into, and that does not bode well for the future of IoT in the pharma industry.

In the pharmaceutical industry, mistakes have serious consequences, so progress will always be slow and cautious. However, it will come. Integrating smart pharma IoT solutions into your organization will result in better production processes, decreased costs, new ways of treating patients, and a better experience for everyone concerned.

What do you think about the possibilities of IoT in the pharma industry and do you think your organization could benefit in a big way from leveraging it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

How to Streamline Your Clinical Trial Management with Cloud Technology

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It goes without saying, that clinical trials are an incredibly important aspect of the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. But, unfortunately, they are the furthest thing from inexpensive or easy to manage.

In fact, it was reported that the total cost to implement and conduct a large-scale clinical trial can be anywhere from $300 to $600 million, with the total cost increasing a few million each year. But unfortunately, that’s not all.

On top of all of the financial costs, research conducted at the Tifts Center for the Study of Drug Development reported that the average development time for clinical trials is 6.7 years!

Now, the good news is that there is a legitimate solution to simplify clinical trials.

Here is a basic outline on how to streamline your clinical trial management with cloud computing technology: 

First Off, What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is the centralized management of data and applications on virtual and internet-based servers. When offered by a third party vendor, they’re often referred to as cloud-managed services.

Now, you may be wondering, “How can cloud computing benefit clinical trials? How can it be a solution to all the issues?” That’s exactly what we’re here to answer!

Cloud Computing is rapidly transforming the way clinical researchers retrieve data. With the wide variety of mobile and cloud-ready devices we have available to us, it’s almost unheard of to not use the cloud to store your personal data. You know it’s safe in case of any emergencies. So, why not leverage the cloud to store and access business data?

Successful woman using cloud computing with her laptop

HIPAA compliance and data security have long been a major concern for pharma and healthcare organizations venturing into the cloud. However, strides have been made in this department as well, which we will discuss a little later. 

Devices such as smartphones and fitness wearables make it possible to electronically collect data directly from clinical trial participants. This allows clinical researchers to skip many of the annoying but required steps to collect this data.

Traditionally, this process would involve tons of folders to store data, constant struggles with recruitment, disorganization, high costs, and a ton of risks. Cloud computing puts an end to all of that.

Cloud Based CTMS

Unlike a traditional Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS), a cloud-based CTMS doesn’t require companies to purchase servers, install applications, validate, document, and maintain everything in-house. This means that you no longer have to wait months for IT to implement a CTMS. Altogether, saving you so much time and stress.

Here is the process of a CTMS:

On top of those benefits, with a cloud-based CTMS, payments are usually lower over a five-year period and spread out monthly or quarterly. This provides greater flexibility and reduces many of the risks associated with a clinical drug trial. 

Data security has always been pharma’s biggest concern with cloud technology. But, with recent security and storage advancements over the years, he risk has been significantly reduced.

Conceptual digital image of lock on circuit background

While this technology isn’t “perfect,” it’s well on its way! 

Still not convinced that a cloud-based CTMS can significantly improve how clinical trials are conducted? Not to worry, we will dive much deeper into how cloud computing can make clinical trials run more efficiently while providing better results in a major way.

First, it’s important to understand the Clinical Trial phases and the unique caveats that come with each stage.

Let’s Take A Look At the Basic Clinical Trial Process 

Before diving into the different phases that a clinical trial consists of, these seven questions should always be asked….

This checklist gives clinical researchers a better idea of how to run the trials and what kind of results hey can typically expect. Also, if your client is running the clinical trial, mentioning this to them before going into what your CTMS can provide, would earn you some nice brownie points. 

For every drug that’s been FDA approved, it has gone through these phases.

As you can see, as the drug progresses through each phase in the process, the length of each phase gradually increases. But, that’s not the only thing that grows. 

In a survey based on data from Cutting Edge Information, Quora reported these estimated costs per phase in 2013:

  • Phase 1: $38,500
  • Phase 2: $40,000
  • Phase 3: $42,000
  • Phase 4: $16,500

With the exception of the final phase (when the market is tested with the new drug), the cost of each phase increases. These prices do not even reflect the low percentage of companies who successfully move on to the next phase.

So, if a drug didn’t make it past phase 2, the price of $42,000 for the transition into phase 3 would double, or it could multiply even more depending on the circumstances of the trial.

On top of costs steadily climbing, think of how many participants are involved with each phase (see above chart in each phase description for the amount of volunteers). If the massive amount of collected data isn’t organized and analyzed correctly, the drug will fail more times than not.

That’s where cloud computing for clinical trials comes into play.

How Cloud Computing Affects the Organization of Information

Easily Organize Clinical Trial Data in one place

“Cloud-based EDC (Electronic Data Capture) software provides even more efficient data monitoring and reporting, enhanced communication and collaboration, and better budget forecasting,” said Cynthia A. Challenger, Ph.D.

Clinical researchers can often be overwhelmed by the sheer number of data sources for each trial, such as social media and wearable technology. The integration of cloud technology for clinical trials can easily aggregate and store all of this data and every person can input feedback at their convenience.

This results in one place for authentic, high data quality, and accessible information that can make collaboration easier.

Yet, the adoption of the right cloud computing software or cloud-based EDC doesn’t just store the massive amounts of data in one place, it also does so much more! It provides real-time visibility combined with the ability to do the following with data:

  • Process
  • Analyze
  • Evaluate
  • Instantly share results with relevant stakeholders

With a clinical trial cloud system, data from a study is collected from around the world and patient smartphones and stored in one convenient place. Having this data stored in the cloud offers built-in error management protocols and collects all the information in real-time. Which results in no delays and faster results.

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What does this mean for clinicians? 

It means less sitting through thousands of paper Case Report Forms (CRFs) from different sites, transferring tons of data into spreadsheets to be analyzed, and best of all, no more stressing.

The FDA actually encourages companies to use cloud-based systems for organizing their clinical trial data, because it enables the sharing of more accurate data between:

  • Sponsors
  • Investigators
  • Patients
  • Regulators

This increased level of data sharing leads to increased compliance and reduced clinical trial costs.

To sum it up:

One centralized data storage location receiving and archiving feedback can exponentially speed up how clinical trials are run.

Another benefit of cloud computing with CTMS is how to secure the data that’s being used is kept.

At one point, this was a huge concern with cloud technology. But, over the years, significant advancements have been made to improve the overall security in the cloud and ensure that everything is HIPAA compliant.

How does Cloud Computing Help with Data Access for Clinical Trials?

Increased Data Security Measures

We’ve all seen the computer hacker scenes in movies….

Hacker programing in technology environment with cyber icons and symbols

It seems so cool, but the last thing anybody wants is their clinical trial data to be hacked and sold to the highest bidder. Over the years, cloud technology has drastically improved its security measures to reduce risk and improve trust. 

In fact, most people believe that data security with the cloud has surpassed the security of data hosted on-site.

The confidential participant data is located in a secure data center and there can be multiple layers of security applied to protect sensitive patient data from prying eyes.

Cloud computing for clinical trials allows employees to access the same applications and documents no matter where they are and converts any location into a “virtual” office.

Simplified Subject Recruiting 

In less than ten years, the number of registered clinical trials jumped from 50,000 in 2007, to more than 180,000 in 2014. Yet, during that time, about 85% of those trials were delayed or unfinished because of a lack of participants.

The good news is that there is a solution! 

One key way that clouds computing helps pharma companies recruit participants is with “big” data.

As mentioned above, data that are stored in the cloud can be shared with anybody with proper access. That includes the data of certain patients and their qualifications for certain trials.

Cloud-based recruitment benefits hospitals and healthcare companies by increasing the awareness of the clinical trials that are being held and improves collaboration saves time and facilitates the research by the end-users.

It also benefits pharma companies and contacts research organizations (CROs) by streaming trial design and procedure based on eligible patients and lowering R&D cycle time and costs.

Blood giving at hospital

Boosts Subject Tracking Measures

A huge amount of data has to be collected on these patients to qualify for a clinical trial. To simplify the process, cloud computing can generate data from:

  • Social Media
  • Fitness Wearables (smartphone apps and smartwatches)
  • Electronic Records
  • And so many more sources!

We live in a digital world, where a 2×2 screen on your wrist can literally determine what kind of patient you are. That’s just the way it is!

On a more serious note, all of these different devices offer a great way to track patients and their health when conducting clinical trials!

These devices enhance the following in clinical trials:

  • Patient Engagement
  • Data Quality
  • Operational Efficiencies

Plus, patient devices provide nothing but benefits for patients and the organizations in healthcare in the form of more data, educated patients, aware patients, and smoother communication between the provider and the patient.

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How Can a Cloud-Based CTMS Help Improve Study Management?

The cloud can massively assist in study management. The chart below explains how it can be used and what it can accomplish.

Better Trial Location Control 

Study Start-Up (SSU) solution is a cloud-based technology that simplifies trial location control with integrated activities:

  • Country Selection
  • Pre-Study Visits
  • Site Selection and Initiation
  • Contract and Budget Execution
  • Enrolling the First Patient

You can review and manage each trial location and how data is entered at that location, as well as monitor trial requirements in real-time, which speeds up the clinical trial process and reduces overall costs.

How Can a Cloud-Based CTMS Help with Cost Reduction? 

Simplifies Financial Management

Research from IBM has indicated that many pharma companies can reduce their annual operating spending as much as 25% on clinical IT systems by using cloud technology.

The costs of hardware acquisition, installation, provisioning, maintenance, support, and software licensing are all eliminated when using a cloud-based CTMS. You can also obtain financial disclosure, obtain medical licenses, and manage to budget.

It was estimated that per year, patient recruitment costs alone can reach more than $1 billion.

“Recruiting the required number of patients for clinical trials is a constant challenge for customers and can represent more than 30% of total study costs,” said Steve Cutler, Icon’s COO.

Additionally, it was reported that in the U.S. in 2014, clinical trials across all therapeutic areas costs $30-40 million on average before even reaching approval in phases 1-3.

By keeping data organized and enabling clinical researchers the ability to manage everything in one location, the clinical trial process speeds up and eliminates extra costs.

This is all possible because of the benefits that cloud computing offers to clinical trial management.

Ring of light-colored tablets on U.S. $20 bills

So, how can a cloud-based CTMS provide clinical researchers the ability to run trials more efficiently and effectively? A cloud-based CTMS can: 

  • Reduce Costs
  • Reduce Maintenance
  • Reduce Risks
  • Increased Reliability Across Multiple Phases
  • Reduce Hardware Requirement, Costs, and Maintenance
  • Simplify Recruitment

As does the digital technology we personally use on a daily basis, a cloud-based CTMS offers more control and flexibility with each study! Ultimately, providing information and results that improve the health of patients worldwide.

By looking at the charts and facts said in this article, you can gain a ton of insight on….

  • Questions that should be asked before beginning to form a clinical trial: Whether this is for a client of yours and you are supplying the cloud technology for their trials,or you’re a clinical researcher, these questions must be asked! It gives a greater perspective on what can come from the trial and how to properly go about conducting it.
  • The clinical trial phases that must be done before receiving FDA approval: When doing business with somebody, it’s always best to relate to your customers/clients. So, if you’re services are being sold to those who conduct clinical trials, you should know the phases they have to go through in order to successfully launch a drug.
  • Struggles that exists around patient recruitment for clinical trials: For a trial to exist and results to be shown, you need participants, there’s no question there. The traditional way of recruiting is hard and costly. The cloud helps with that. The graph shows the percentage of struggles that occur in recruiting. Thus, giving you a better idea for how you can assist your clients even more.
  • How to manage your study with the cloud: While most internet searches may not be helpful in determining how cloud computing can help manage your study, our above chart simplifies the answers. You can more easily collect data, manage that data, reduce on-site work, improve trial visibility across multiple channels, simplify financial reporting, and more effectively choose a trial site.

So, after reading this, do you find yourself not only more knowledgeable on clinical trials, but also feeling more confident in how you can help your clients manage their clinical trials with the cloud?

There’s so much to talk about on this topic so please if you have any input that wasn’t stated above then please share in the comments!