How digital disruption is affecting the pharmaceutical industry


Pharmaceutical and life sciences organizations are having to up their digital game to meet the needs of 21st century consumers.

Pharmaceutical and life sciences organizations are having to up their digital game to meet the needs of 21st century consumers.

However, concerns about a lack of available digital talent continue to weigh on the industry.

With that in mind we’ve looked at:

  • The current talent gap
  • The impact of digital transformation on pharma
  • Attracting key digital skills

The digital talent gap

PwC’s 21st Global CEO Survey found that ‘60% of the sector’s CEOs are concerned about the availability of digital talent in their workforce’.

The same PwC survey revealed that ‘pharmaceutical and life sciences CEOs are doing less, compared to the global average, to attract digital talent.’

For an industry that’s traditionally been slow to adapt to change, something’s got to give.

Digital disruption in pharma

Consumerization of healthcare

The entire pharmaceutical and life sciences industry is undergoing digital disruption. Patients have access to unprecedented levels of information about their health and wellbeing. And they want even more.

In 2014, a report by McKinsey estimated that 70% of US consumers use an online channel to manage health and wellness.

And this demand and increased awareness of healthcare choices is only set to increase with the boom in wearables and health tracking devices.

Where are the data scientists who can make smart decisions based on this influx of information? Or the bright minds capable of automating previously mundane processes? 

Meanwhile, the increasing focus on customer experience has also created an acute need for digitally savvy marketers who can cut through the noise in a crowded market.

The 2017 Digital Trends in Healthcare and Pharma report found that customer experience is the top strategic priority for 93% of pharma companies.

The impact on R&D

Drug development and manufacture is expensive. Really expensive. It takes up to 14 years and $2.6bn to develop a single drug.

Added to that, 95% of drug compounds fail, further highlighting the inefficiencies that exist in the current Research and Development model.

However, digital disruption is starting to have a positive impact.

Complex Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms are being introduced to speed up clinical trials. 3-D Printing technology is printing drugs and “In Silco Drug Testing” (the simulation of human physiology via advanced computer algorithms) is opening-up new avenues of experimentation.

Attracting key digital skills 

The need for pharma to attract key digital skills, especially marketing, has been talked about for a long while.

Depressingly, the sector’s digital marketing brain drain is an ongoing topic of discussion.

The industry requires adaptable individuals capable of understanding its unique commercial, scientific and regulatory demands. And that’s before we even get to how these people can start applying their digital magic.

However, there are ways pharma can compete in the digital talent war.

Setting clear development goals and showing prospective employees you care about their future is key. And it comes from the top.

To that end, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals told MM&M all about how they set each manager a ‘people goal’, tied to their direct reports’ development.

That’s just one example of a pharma company changing its culture to become a more attractive workplace.

If these points sound familiar, then give me a call on +1 786 8704240 or email to chat through any problems you’re encountering.

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