Life Sciences

Big Data in Healthcare and Life Sciences

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The focus of this blog post is to begin to place analytics as the key capability and business improvement for the Life Sciences and Healthcare industry. I will look to give other blog posts on database types as a prelude to the pending wave around the Internet of Things (#IoT). We all know the term #BigData, and if you do a search within LinkedIn you find many articles on the topic. I want to focus on the buyers of big data solutions to solve problems specific to Life Sciences and Healthcare companies. I’ll provide the background and the types of solutions you may need to discuss with this technology.

Big Data

Big players look to improve their product offerings

A few days ago I had read with interest an article entitled “Big incumbents target big updates in big data bonanza.” The focus of the piece was how Oracle, HP and IBM were releasing updates around their big data portfolios. They include SQL, plus Hadoop, and NoSQL, and according to Dan Vesset from IDC there is no one technology that addresses all the analytics use cases. Why does this matter to Healthcare and Life Sciences?

Having a ‘unified’ data platform will be part of the industry’s analytics strategy. With so much data you need a plan that supports future search and analysis ability within your companies. IDC predicts that the overall market in 2015 to reach $125B. With Healthcare and Life Sciences to have a significant part of this market. IDC tells us that we have until 2017 to have this in place, with the Internet of Things (IoT) having a real influence when it comes to healthcare and new product innovation.

Winners and Losers in the Big Data wars

I recommend you read this great article by Brian Sommer (@Brianssommer) “The Big Data Wars – will your company prevail? Part1” and there is a “Part2.”

Four kinds of Big Data users

I would contend that if you read this blog post you are either involved in analytics or providing advice for clients on this topic. So it is helpful to know where you, and your company or client sits if you agree with the previous paragraph. While the article covers generalities I would like to propose the same viewpoint for Healthcare and Life Sciences companies.

Where do you land in the Big Data wars?     

“Wasters – companies that have access to big, external data but don’t do enough with it.” In attempting to comply with US healthcare regulations there are hospital systems that have implemented IT systems to capture data (meaningful use compliance). Have these systems provided valuable feedback to help ‘improve’ healthcare? Can data from within a hospital room be leveraged to improve healthcare for the patient? Depending on the healthcare system it is debatable, and yet it can lead to competitive healthcare improvements.

Healthcare

Conversely, Medical Device companies have to store patient related data as per regulations – are you missing an opportunity to leverage long-term historical facts to give advice for new devices? Pharmaceuticals could be connecting clinical trials data with data from wearables (I would suggest this will happen sooner than later) or doctors notes to offer greater insights into the outcome of new and existing medicines.

“Losers – These firms couldn’t be bothered by the emergence of big data.” Yes there are small group of companies that see data as a nuisance. Their happy with the way their data works today so why bother with looking at more data. To be sure not to find you in this box look at both the technology and organizational change, yet I will leave that for another blog post.

“ERP Masters – Leveraging transactional data beyond the four walls of your company.” I like Brian’s diagram because I come from several years of working with enterprise systems big data forces us to look beyond the four wall of the back office. Yes it is all about ‘integrating’ external data for more insight for the business.

  • Life Sciences companies would extend ERP systems into the clinical trial process to tie manufacturing quality and product traceability through to the delivery of the products to the patients and hospital storage locations.
  • Hospitals that look to become more profitable will look to extend patient records to include ‘remote/home’ data as a necessary next step in providing ‘value’ in the recovery process. Today’s hospital systems have yet to extend this far into healthcare.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) will have a significant big data impact through the Life Sciences and Healthcare value chain. ERP systems are not designed to support data collection nor analysis of data.

life sciences

“Winners – These firms know more, understand more and want more.” I’ve not referenced the payers in this discussion, and that is because they take full advantage of big data to help devise healthcare plans and payment plans. Big data should be viewed and planned as a competitive advantage. Do you feel you company or clients are using big data as a spirited market advantage? Brian said it best, “They know that insights mean money, market share and margin.”

Let me know what you think? Agree or disagree…

Thanks,

Jim

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Can Technology solve the Big Data / Analytics skills gap?

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Recent articles and tweets emphasize that Big Data, or Analytics, would improve the bottom line for a company as long as they are prepared to take advantage of this benefit. Some Life Sciences (those that offer pharmaceuticals and medical devices products) and Healthcare companies have a need for new tools if they are going to take full advantage of Big Data. Today companies have enterprise systems that need IT people to give the requisite report or summary analysis. Newer analytics tools like Tableau Software compliment the installed base of enterprise software with the added benefit of an intuitive way of doing user analysis that focuses more on collaboration and portability.

Backdrop

The key benefits from Big Data for Healthcare (and I will include Life Sciences in this because of the connection to pricing/payments) includes*:

  • Improvements in Drug Trial Safety
  • Disease surveillance
  • Prescribed treatments
  • Patient Outcomes

*MeriTalk and EMC recently surveyed 150 Federal executives on healthcare and healthcare research to find out if Big Data is the cure.

Today we still have data stored like this:

HEALTHCARE/DOCTORS

Companies have enterprise systems with data cubes and traditional spreadsheets that need IT to extract the data:

acos-big-data-healthcare-300x225

So how can I prioritize?

I agree with the opinion of Dr. Rado Kotorov in his article “The CIOs Top 3 priorities for 2015”:

  • The CIO role will transform from a technology leader to a business leader
  • Manage data as the enterprise’s most valuable strategic asset
  • Make Business Intelligence (BI) pervasive and ubiquitous

Consider the following

Change is imminent so consider a tool that your users can easily leverage to do key analysis, and I don’t mean Excel spreadsheets or Access database. Yesterday I went through a demo of the Tableau software (rank high in terms of “Ability to Execute” and as a “Leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics). In summary they have solved the problem of connecting to multiple source systems. The product is also easy to set-up and more importantly provides a means to allow for collaboration with others.

In my opinion, reaping the benefit of Big Data means finding ways to turn IT systems to supporting the users to help the business. As leaders in the industry you need to find ways to allow users to unleash their creativity and help the organization analyze and solve business problems. This may mean an additional cost in the short-term. Alternatively you can wait for the right resources or invest in replacing key parts of your enterprise landscape – either choice may not be as appealing as selecting tools to make data analysis easier. I would recommend Tableau Software

Would you agree I am open to your opinion, so tell me what you think?

Thanks,

Jim

Are you Effectively using Big Data?

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Since the market introduced this term we’ve tried to make a distinction between data and ‘more’ Using Big-Data
data. In my opinion all data is ‘big data.’ That the challenge for IT departments is how to ‘quickly’ turn these new sources of data into ‘value’ for the business. In this blog post I’ll explain where we are with big data – illustrate the issues and propose a solution.

Backdrop

Within Life Sciences (pharmaceuticals and medical devices) ‘big data’ has been in place for quite some time. Most companies have had to address the challenges of managing data for instance:

  • Financial data – this would include your typical data for operating your company. There are additional complexities from a sales and rebate perspective along with cross border/country tax issues for products.
  • Supply Chain data – includes your typical sales and operations data plus the traceability of packaged pharmaceuticals or individual devices.
  • Clinical trials data – generating data that needs to be translated into information for product approval as well as storing data for adverse events analysis.

Government regulations influence how companies manage data. Most firms are required to maintain patient data for the life of the user. Managing data is also part of any legal defense in the event of product failures in the field, and the random audit from the FDA and other regulatory bodies.

 

Influences

If Life Sciences companies maintain their data we are dealing with large repositories of data. What are influencing IT departments are the changes in today’s markets, for instance:

  • Mergers and Acquisitions – most companies are prepared for this both from a due diligence prior to the acquisition. In most cases there is a common set of financial and supply chain information that is shared until an IT decision is made to absorb, or let stand, the IT landscape of the acquired company. There are a few firms that still operate in a mixed IT environment. So this can be a challenge without the right strategy for reporting and analytics.
  • Mobile devices – we’ve already been made aware of the growing use of smartphones and tablets. Besides the security aspects of these devices. Data needs to be made available at various levels of the organization. This is a topic that most IT departments are struggling with, and an area that requires a strategy with feedback from your users.
  • Digital Marketing or Business Insights – we should be aware that ‘social media’ is having a huge impact on Marketing. The advent of these new tools and data sources (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) poses several data questions:
    • How do we analyze and treat these new sources of customer/patient feedback?
    • With more and more doctors using tablets how do we get our product messages to them, and can we measure the impact on our market share?
    • How do I plan for this additional explosion of data because we still have the existing ‘structured’ data, and now we are adding new sources of ‘unstructured’ data?
    • Marketing and Business folks are asking for this information for further analysis? IT has to decide on the tools and methods to perform this analysis.

structured and unstructured data

So are you effectively using ‘bigdata,’ and if not what plans do you have to support the business and your company’s growth targets?

Your Strategy

Reporting Strategy and Elastic Analytics

If you are in this situation there is a need to prepare your ‘reporting strategy.’ Typically this is a 6 to 8 week exercise to identify the business needs and match this against your current IT landscape and solutions. I often recommend this exercise because if you have this strategy in place you can leverage this output for funding needs, new tools, etc., as well as a discussion with the business. Focus on immediate pain points and demonstrate ‘quick wins’ will go a long way to ensuring that IT is still a strategic influence within your organizations.

Yet even if you have you’re strategy in place you may need to move faster to help the business. At Capgemini we have introduced a solution called ‘elastic analytics.’ The link below is a video which provides a high level summary for this offering.

 Capgemini Elastic Analytics video

Elastic Analytics helps IT with the following:

  1.  If the deployment of your reporting strategy is a lengthy process then elastic analytics can provide you with ‘quick wins’ that demonstrate the ‘art of the possible’ when it comes to reporting and analytics. All you need to do is provide the data and we will process this into information served up in a variety of outputs (from a dashboard to a screen on a Smartphone or tablet).
  2. Let’s say you want to ‘test’ out different analytics tools using your data. Using elastic analytics there is no need for you to invest in and take time out for product demos. This landscape includes most of the leading products on the market. This allows you the freedom to test your data on multiple products.
  3. Maybe there is no in-house expertise when it comes to the science of converting data into meaningful information. Within this offering we have up 250 data scientists that can help you correlate your data into relevant business information.

In summary, if all data is big date then are you using this ‘effectively?’  There are various reasons for companies to look into changing their approach to reporting and analytics. What I’ve explained is available today, and I hope this helps you decide how best to approach your problem.

I am open to your feedback or suggestions, so tell me what you think?

Thanks,

Jim

2012 in review

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Hi all,

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog. Thanks to everyone that visited my blog post I appreciate the visits and the chance to share some of my thoughts around technology and Life Sciences. I will publish a plan in early January for the 2013 calendar year. Scroll down for the key metric and access to this summary report.

Have a wonderful holidays and Happy New Year…..  Jim Sabogal

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. Jim’s blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Business Value and the CIO

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The question I keep hearing about is ‘how can Life Sciences CIOs help meet the needs of the business at the current pace of technology?’ Last month I wrote about Realizing a 360 degree view of your customer… and a focus on CRM. This described how IT technology can add value in helping the business keep and acquire customers. This month I want to summarize what is impacting today’s executives and what can be done to have IT be an enabler of value within Life Sciences.

The situation today

In the recent Gartner 2012 CIO Agenda “Re-Imaging IT” by Andrew Rowsell-Jones he presents a summary of the results from an extensive CIO survey, and a key question around the relevancy of IT departments when the business has a broader definition of technology.

Many of you reading this blog post experience the rapid pace of technology as you go about your business each day. Technology is reaching more people across the globe consider these points:

  • I’ve heard that in China over 70% of the population have never owned a laptop and went straight to handheld devices.
  • In India, mobile phones are more popular than toothbrushes
  • And other facts about the rapid pace of technology

In the Gartner survey CIOs ranked the following business strategies in order of importance:

  1. Growth
  2. New customers
  3. Reducing IT costs

Yet the Life Sciences industry executives have to deal with little or no growth in IT budget and increasing demands from the business for more technology (especially around analytics and mobility). CIOs are constrained from delivering IT innovation from budget to skilled IT resources to organization and culture plus alignment between IT and the business.

CIO as the Chief Innovation Officer

I had read this Forbes article by Perry Rotella entitled CIO = Chief INNOVATION Officer. The essence of the article was to lay out the case for CIOs to have their organizations adopt more of an ‘agile’ approach to the use of technology within IT. I recognize and experience that Life Sciences companies have to deal with Regulations, Compliance and Security. Yet I believe this to can be solved.

I do agree with Perry in this article that the CIOs “greatest responsibility is to create value” for the organization. You drive ‘growth’ via ‘innovation.’ IT enabled innovation can differentiate how you deliver service for medical devices, offer a great customer experience, and improve the productivity within the organization.

 

IT Service providers can aid and enable CIOs move to a more ‘agile’ approach to generate IT Innovation. I would suggest the following actions:

  • Embrace the fact that your current approach to delivering projects will have shortened lifecycles – full of frequent changes.
    • Find IT providers that add value from a solution/technology perspective. Think of them as extensions to your team. This reduces the need to up-skill or hires talent to your IT team.
    • Fill the gap within your IT team around new technology with IT service providers that can rapidly add value to key projects.
      • CIOs are asking for short ‘assessment’ projects that can diagnose the current process and offer solutions with costs and timelines. I’ve helped companies adjust their supply chain or enact benefits studies around specific business processes.
      • Focus on smaller and shorter (in terms of duration) IT projects.
        • Proof-of-concept projects in cloud computing. Balancing validation between on-premise and on-demand applications. Yes a ‘hybrid’ model is possible. Remember the previous points and align these projects with the business to meet the greatest value.

In the coming weeks I will address mobility and big data. These are some of the hot topics within Life Sciences and they can mean different things depending on if you’re a pharmaceutical or medical device company.

Thanks,

Jim

Does this mean the end of the laptop?

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In following last month’s blog post Now that you bought that new iPad... the tablet is rapidly replacing the laptop as the tool of choice for more and more business folks. This month I’ll take a look at the use of the iPad and then what apps I find useful if you do decide to leave behind your laptop. Apple has become the tablet choice for a lot of folks please note they’ve sold a lot of iPads (graphic from the article How many iPads (new and old) did Apple sell last quarter?).

How tablets are changing the Enterprise

The rapid adoption of tablets is taking place in the Life Sciences industry especially in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). So if you’re a field service rep or a Pharma sales rep you often hear complaints about their CRM system. Laptops are too bulky to carry around and in hospital setting are denied wi-fi access which means a late night back at the hotel to upload work files.

Tablets have ‘re-energized’ how IT is supporting the business. Most IT services companies are moving to find ways for IT departments to leverage back office systems (CRM, ERP and Financials). In this article by Andrew Tolve, “What tablets can do for pharma CRM” he speaks to how digital solution are helping to improve sales effectiveness.

That is one aspect of how iPads are penetrating the enterprise.Within my company we have successfully done projects for a variety of industries:

  • Present basic ERP sales module on the iPad. A great way for sales reps to share with their clients the status of their sales orders. 
  • Extended ERP processes to the iPad for a leading Japanese subsidiary of a global Pharmaceutical company. Tablets allow for multilingual front ends (in this case Kanji).
  • Rendered maintenance and overhaul parts on the iPad to allow field service repairs in real-time.

Add reporting on top of the apps that do this work and you have a powerful mix and the reason for the rapid adoption of the iPad. In two weeks I’ll be at the SAP SAPPHIRE event in Orlando where we will have demo of these and other mobility applications for the enterprise.

I wanted to finish this blog post with some feedback on a few applications that will help you easily decide if you need to carry around your laptop on that next business trip. So here a few comments for your consideration:

  • My iPad (and for that matter my iPhone) boots up a lot faster than my laptop. Often you have no choice in hardware since ‘company’ issued laptops have not upgraded to solid state hard drives. So while my laptop is still booting up I’m able to start working with my iPad.
  • Dropbox – is a free cloud service that lets you store key business files in the ‘cloud.’ Syncs with your cell phone and tablet and has a nice feature that allows you to ‘copy a public link’ and share this address with others. Handy feature when you want to give access to a large file to your colleagues.
  • CloudOn – brings Microsoft Office ability to your iPad and connects with Dropbox account. This is a ‘killer’ app since it give me the flexibility to edit and save presentations, spreadsheets and documents with my iPad. Very handy for team meetings and last minutes changes before a client meeting.
  • Smart Writing Tool – 7notes HD – this is the paid version of this app. I have searched for a writing tool that is both optimized for the iPad and can recognize my handwriting. This is the tool! It has three modes in the paid version (keyboard, writing and – writing to text conversion tool) the writing to text allows me to scribe and have my handwritten note instantly converted to text. Yes you can email, convert to pdf, and link it to your favorite social media sites. For this blog post I wrote my notes then emailed the document for further editing.

Since my last blog post learning to use your tablet is time-consuming if you want to reap the productivity benefits. I will be putting these tools to the test as I travel to meet with clients and trade shows. I will be publishing an article in August around R&D (more on this topic later), while finding the time to post relevant ideas on Twitter and Facebook.

I hope you find the apps comments useful. If you have any questions or comments or even find another awesome app please let me know I’m always interested.

Thanks,

Jim

Social Media and Life Sciences

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While there has been a lot of discussion about the FDA’s view of Social Media I wrote last month about Gearing up IT for Future Growth. IT must become more relevant in supporting the business and this new way of ‘collaboration.’ In last month’s blog post I spoke of how IT can be a catalyst for the business. There is a conflict in all this since IT budgets are constrained between maintaining the current IT landscape and investing in these new areas.

To get a better view on this dilemma I suggest you read this blog post on The Next Wave of Technology Led Business Gains written by a colleague of mine. His blog post is entitled Sadagopan’s Weblog, January 8th, 2012. In this article he describes the issues that benefit the business and yet prove challenging for IT.

Being a ‘social enterprise’ to me is all about the connections between your end customers and the products you sell. Within Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices investments have been made in the areas of customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to help business process improvements and adoption for example: sales reps taking orders and processing quotes. Technology is providing opportunities to improve the ways in which companies can rapidly gain insight into the use of a medication or device.

Integration is the key in all this since the business is using social media tools to quickly gather up this data and transforming this into relevant information. Today I am working with several companies that are looking to improve their business processes via upgrades and ‘smarter’ deployment of this technology. The challenge is to ‘connect’ the output of social media for improved clinical trials or insight into existing device performance (via call center data and complaint tracking).

We are not quite there yet in ‘integrating’ social media with back office systems. Tools are being introduced to ease the ‘listening’ and ‘gathering’ of this data. I believe that Life Sciences companies would benefit from a better ‘collaboration’ with their patients and consumers of their products. As I see this progressing in the market I will offer an update to this blog post.

Thanks,

Jim