This is the last installment on Aligning Life Sciences and Healthcare IT. I had written two earlier blog posts on Innovation back on 23Nov2009 The time for ‘Process Innovation’ is now and on 8Dec2009 Pharma 2.0 and the need for Process Innovation. I had been inspired to write about this topic due to a recent set of tweets on Innovation, and the lack of Innovation. As well as a recent speech from our company’s CEO and our overall direction for the year. With so many mergers and acquisitions and since the focus of this series is about Life Sciences and Healthcare IT what steps can be taken to ‘improve’ Innovation?
My current focus is on IT services. A few months back our CEO came to do a ‘town hall’ meeting and to give a state of the industry and give us the ‘direction’ for the year. IT services are becoming more commoditized and to truly grow our company we have to focus on the business process within our industry segments. We are a company that can offer expertise across a range of applications. What I got out this presentation was the need for improving the business process. Questioning how we do certain processes. In my experience in software development we always had the concept of ‘best practices.’ These were business processes that were developed for ERP and are used across multiple clients. Best practices examples include order-to-cash; hire-to-retire; etc. and are easy to apply within a company.
Within Life Sciences there is no one software solution that can fully support pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Biotech firms can leverage one set of software solutions as they move from one product to a few products. Generics are not burden with having to develop new products and so R&D is limited and can use one set of software applications. The history within pharmaceuticals and medical devices was that R&D and the business were on separate IT systems. Now with the pressure of healthcare costs rising, the lack of new products, and increasing regulatory requirements these industry segments are looking to leverage technology to ‘innovate’ improvements in these areas.
Healthcare IT systems are also unique from a software application perspective. There are several key vendors with a different set of data standards. How then does IT provide innovation within Life Sciences segments and leverage ways to ‘collaborate’ with Healthcare IT systems? My perspective is to leverage a client’s IT investments and to find ways to ‘innovate’ the business process. With no common applications as an IT service provider we have worked on building up ability in applying different software solutions to improve the business process for our clients. In later blog posts I hope to do a deeper dive into these business processes with more details.
Today I’ve been working in the Life Sciences R&D area. How to improve the business process? I will caution you that I do not claim to be a scientist or medical degree person. Yet what I can do is to find ways to accelerate the use of IT within certain segments of the R&D process. A little on the Research side where we can use IT in basic research, while focusing on the Development side where there are multiple software applications that are not ‘integrated’ together (SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and others).
In Can IT bridge the gap? Part1, it explains that there is no one technology within Life Sciences and no common Healthcare IT system. In Part 2 A Practical Mobility Solution for Doctors and Nurses. We showed how mobility can play a key role in providing healthcare workers with technology that improves productivity. Today the move is to improve Innovation and it is not about the advances in technology. I believe we have achieved this in most cases. Yet there is still room to ‘improve’ the business process – enhance productivity: so that new products are developed faster and decisions can be made to accelerate the right products to market.
I read an article by Stephanie Sutton, PharmaTech Europe entitled The Pharma 2.0 Trend for 2010. The article summarizes how the industry will remain status quo for 2010 based on Ovum’s industry report. “The trend for slow growth will continue, and cutting costs and reducing time–to-market will remain a priority, particularly with the impending patent cliff in 2011.” If the Pharma industry remains the same how will personalized medicine come about? We know that the pending healthcare reform will influence the industry. How much of a change remains to be seen.
In a previous blog I expressed the need for ‘process innovation’ and in this article it describes how IT and technology solutions must connect knowledge between departments and global organizations if we are to achieve the new model for healthcare. The term Pharma 2.0 refers to the new business model when the industry moves to personalized medicine or some form of ‘targeted treatments.’ I like how Ovum describes Pharma 2.0 as “leaner, globalized entity whose increased scale is achieved ‘virtually’ rather than through accretion.” To me accretion seems to be an interesting word and according to Dictionary.com “the growing together of separate parts into a single whole.”
There is ample data that indicates the current Pharma R&D model to bring new products to market is inefficient. Something we all know. Within these organizations the adoption of ERP has been an example (if done correctly) of how business processes can be streamlined and data collected in order to run a global business. This covers Manufacturing/Operations, Service, and Sales and Marketing. I see ‘process innovation’ being applied to the R&D side of Pharma. As new technology is introduced there must be an awareness of the role that IT plays in supporting the business process, and improving how data is collected and made available for decision making. Unlike ERP where there are vendors and service providers that have helped to put this in place on the business end of Pharma. There does not appear to be ‘one’ vendor for the R&D side. So the challenge is how to ‘connect’ these technologies together, when you have software-as-a service (SaaS) or ‘on demand’ applications alongside the traditional enterprise solutions or ‘on premise’ applications. This is the challenge we face as we go into 2010. I see this as an opportunity for IT to be the catalyst to help the industry transform into the Pharma 2.0 business model.