Growing Need for Digitalization in Life Sciences Industry

Published on 13 Apr, 2021

Life science enterprises are slowly but surely moving toward digitalization of their processes. Technologies such as AI, IoT, and cloud computing are changing the dynamics of this industry, helping the enterprises achieve efficiency. The main benefit of digitalization is organizations are now shifting to a patient-centric approach for development of cures, which would result in better healthcare services.

Various industries have been already witnessing rapid adoption of digitalization and technological innovation until 2019, and the onset of COVID-19 accelerated the pace. The medical and life sciences industries have also undergone digital transformations, making them more agile, cost-effective, and productive.

Life science companies have been slowly evolving and leveraging technologies to execute their processes effectively. They are exploring new-age technologies such as advanced analytics, cloud computing, and IoT to achieve efficacy.

Adoption of these technologies has provided life science companies access to a huge pool of patient data, which is an important resource. Furthermore, it has helped in the emergence of a patient-centric business model, whereas the traditional model only focused on discovery of revolutionary drugs or treatments.

Some of the technologies aiding the evolution of the life sciences industry are as follows:

  • Artificial intelligence – R&D processes are usually costly due to clinical trials, which are lengthy and have high a risk of failure. These processes can be expedited by applying AI to structure and classify large volumes of data that are now available with companies. Analytics can be applied in various ways to use this data effectively. For example, the right volunteer can be chosen for a particular trial, increasing the chances of success, or hidden connections and correlations can be revealed, opening future avenues for research.
  • Cloud computing – Cloud computing can help life science companies simplify complex processes. The biggest advantage of this technology is that it facilitates easy availability of and access to data, which helps clinical trials worldwide.
    Cloud computing also offers the advantage of cognitive computing as it can ingest and analyze a huge volume of data from IoT and real-time devices within a short time. Using cognitive technologies, the gap between big data and analytics can be bridged and everyday decision-making can be decentralized.
  • Internet of things – The technology of IoT is significant for life sciences and can optimize its entire value chain. It is not only advantageous for R&D but can also aid in digitalization and enhancement of patient experience. With smart sensors, digital platforms, and direct connectivity, IoT provides access to real-time, comprehensive data. It makes R&D more precise and connected.
  • Intelligent automation – Robotic process automation (RPA) has already been successfully implemented across manufacturing units, thus saving countless manhours. Automation of manual processes is made possible using AI algorithms, which is known as intelligent automation. Research-based pharmaceutical companies employ RPA-enabled screening methods with which they simultaneously test hundreds of thousands of compounds against a specific model of disease, which drastically reduces time and human efforts.
    Furthermore, dedicated development platforms can now perform complex automated processes. A few companies are working on modular systems or complete robotic platforms that automate the entire process, from development of experimental design, accurate selection, processing of samples, and evaluation to data analysis.

The list of digital technologies, as well as the benefits they offer, is vast and the points mentioned above are just a brief summary. Despite its many advantages, the life sciences industry has been slow to digitalize. Owing to pressure to create and offer more drugs and products to the market, players have only focused on product creation and not value addition. This has led to rising R&D costs, complexities in new therapies, lack of personalized attention to patients, and inability to meet expectations of digitally savvy customers.

If companies do not digitalize, they may have to grapple with such issues while at the same time running the risk of lagging behind in a world that is fast becoming technology-oriented. The main challenge that life science companies face is lack of accurate data and its fast, yet reliable analysis, leading to long R&D processes that are costly and labor-intensive.

Digitalization can provide a solution to these problems. With the help of advanced technologies such as AI, cloud computing, and IoT, life science entities can reap the benefits of merging the physical and digital worlds. Developing a strong digital ecosystem is the way forward for all life science companies. They must embrace this concept to avail of superior medical care, improved patient journey, and faster drug discovery process. Data is the key asset of life science enterprises, and digitalization is offering the means to collect and use it effectively. It is crucial for these enterprises to invest in emerging technologies and reshape themselves as digital enterprises. Through digitalization, the companies can become more agile and collaborative, and adapt to changes within the healthcare and life sciences marketplace.