We talk a lot these days about the pharmaceutical industry moving ‘beyond the pill.’ As companies look to differentiate themselves and build relationships with patients, they’re shifting towards value-based care. This requires a clear, innovative strategy, otherwise these efforts just amount to bulked-up marketing campaigns.

It’s the same for any industry threatened by disruption. The digital response has to be transformative; otherwise it could find itself endangered – or at least wounded – in the new technology-driven world.

With a new generation of companies using big data, sensors and artificial intelligence to provide precise real-time monitoring of patients, there is a growing expectation for big pharma to take a more holistic approach. But how progressively is the pharma industry adopting the digital technologies that will allow them to draw patients with the sort of detail necessary to build relationships that go beyond the transactional?

The latest Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey – the largest IT leadership study in the world – provides some answers.

Lack of central digital strategy holding IT leadership back

The survey’s pharma industry snapshot encompassed responses from 59 IT leaders. It highlights areas where this industry’s responses differed significantly from those across all industries.

Marginally more than half (51%) of the pharma respondents said their organization has a clear digital vision and strategy, compared to 59% in other industries. Looking at the responses in further detail reveals that pharmaceutical companies are less likely to maintain an enterprise-wide digital business strategy than others (23% vs. 32% for all industries).

The absence of an enterprise-wide digital business strategy might have something to do with the lack of direction. Only 41% of pharma companies have a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) or equivalent– 4% reported having a dedicated CDO with an additional 37% reporting that a CIO or someone else acts in that role. Overall, the results suggest that pharma companies are less likely than others to have a single executive leading their digital strategy.

Without a central digital strategy and someone to drive it, business units are more likely to work in silos. Just 8% of pharma CIOs said they are effective at generating a single view of customer interactions across all service channels, compared to 19% for all industries.

In more positive news, however, pharma exceeds cross-industry benchmarks in leveraging customer data to deliver personalized experiences (30% vs. 19% for all industries). Pharma is also on par or slightly ahead of other industries in technology and innovation, with pharma companies investing heavily in artificial intelligence/machine learning (28% vs. 24% for all industries) and robotic process automation (19% vs. 18%).

IT leadership within pharma companies appear to understand that having an innovative, experimental culture is a critical component of the success of their digital strategies – 90% of respondents said as much – and are starting to adopt digital technologies, such as AI, at an accelerated rate. However, they still appear to be lacking the sort of detail about customers that will provide them with a platform to truly go ‘beyond the pill.’

What do you think of the study’s findings – is it a fair assessment of pharma’s pursuit to deliver value-based care?

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Author: Jill Shuman

Jill Shuman is a former Director of Product Engagement at Copyright Clearance Center and currently a CCC Consultant. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Tufts University School of Medicine, where she has taught courses in grant writing, searching biomedical literature and expository writing. Prior to her role at CCC, Jill headed up the corporate library and Knowledge Management Centers at Shire, and also served as a healthcare research analyst and an award-winning science journalist. She is active in SLA, HBA, and the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). In 2016, Jill was the recipient of AMWA’s lifetime achievement award for her success in teaching more than 40 classes, workshops, and seminars. When not at work, she can be found reading (on an e-reader to make the print bigger), looking for her glasses, or writing children’s mysteries that feature sick children as super sleuths.
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