THE TRANSFORMATIONAL ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY ON THE PHARMACEUTICAL SECTOR

November 29, 2018 - 5 minutes read

I recently had the opportunity to share my perspective on the transformational role of digital technology on the pharmaceutical sector and the future of healthcare generally with a group of technologists, venture capitalists and investors, as a guest of HealthTech advisors and investment partners, Galen Growth.

More than preaching to the converted, it was an opportunity to connect with a community of experts and evangelists to discuss the drivers that are informing investment and partnership decisions in HealthTech today.

In my view, there are four of them, and these are steering Mundipharma’s digital transformation:

  • From reactive to predictive: Technology with big data and machine learning at the forefront, is enabling the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors evolve from a reactive to predictive mind set. This will support a greater emphasis on targeted or preventative healthcare strategies.
  • Become digital: The technology-driven disruption we’ve observed in the retail and services landscape is coming to the pharmaceutical sector at rapid pace. If pharma doesn’t grasp its digital opportunity, the platforms that already operate at global scale will quickly assume their role. The challenge for pharmaceutical companies is to transform into digital companies that market and distribute medicines backed by insight and patient education or be left behind.
  • A global investment with purpose: We are only at the beginning of the adoption curve, with the integration of tools like AI and virtual and augmented reality in their infancy. Along with big data, they have the potential to powerfully accelerate the evolution of healthcare globally, to radically transform the quality and accuracy of healthcare systems around the world and address the unmet patient needs. This is transformation with purpose beyond profit.
  • Meeting this century’s challenge: Digital technology can arrest the failure of modern healthcare in overcoming access and infrastructure challenges presented by demographic change across the developing and developed world. Innovation is critical to meeting the needs of aging and fast-growing, increasingly connected and fluid populations.

This adds up to a massive opportunity. At Mundipharma, we’re investing in multiple projects simultaneously to show how it’s possible to transform the industry default setting and do things differently. Central to this approach is an open, adaptive culture and a willingness to partner with technology innovators is essential to making change happen.

We are thinking like a technology company and creating coalitions and partnerships with external partners to gain access to the skills and capability that isn’t typically associated with a pharmaceuticals company. Our role is to provide the leadership and vision. We need the investment and technology communities help to make it happen.

It’s an approach that is already generating results. We have collaborated with Singapore digital healthcare developer, Biofourmis, on a project we call painfocus™ where we use a wearable device to track physiology biomarkers that can help us track patients with pain in real time. A second project targets the root cause of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease among school children, where we developed a tablet and an app to teach children to wash their hands better to reduce the risk of infection. This project has now scaled across markets as regulators see the benefits of digital-led preventative tools. A third example is Breatherite™, an app that harnesses augmented reality and other technology to help patients use their inhaler properly and increase its effectiveness.

We are just getting started. Progress will require continued alignment between private and public sectors, and critically, collaboration and partnership with digital healthcare technology leaders and their investors. And of course, the willingness of pharmaceutical companies to embrace the opportunity and lead. I believe it can be achieved.

Thank you to Galen Growth for the opportunity to engage with your community.