How Life Sciences Benefits From Broader Healthcare Transformation

Wednesday, March 1, 2023


Life sciences and healthcare are often considered adjacent but not adjoined worlds: Biopharma enables everyday care, while unmet needs at bedside can, in turn, inform new research.

But as digital health and data expand throughout the care continuum, those two previously distinct worlds have become more united. Stakeholders such as payers, providers, pharma and medtech companies have quickly realized the many benefits of exchanging insights and strategies to accelerate transformation.

Take recruitment, for example, an ongoing pain point among biopharma companies given that more than 80% of trials don’t enroll on time. Bryan Hill, Vice President of Digital Health and Innovation at Cognizant, explained:

“If you’re from the clinical research world within biopharma and you’re looking for ways to expand recruitment activity, there are opportunities within healthcare that can help,” he said. “There’s claims data, for example, or the ability to access patients directly through the EHR. It’s that convergence that has become very important, and it’s all made possible by digital transformation. With these new resources, many sponsors can meet recruitment goals within weeks, not months.”

Even so, it can be challenging to obtain synergy among these sectors that — until recently — have mostly operated independently. How can life sciences companies make the most of digital health to support product pipelines? Here’s what experts recommend:

The expanding footprint of digital’s effects

Every day, remote and virtual care, wearables, and digital therapeutics become a more routine part of healthcare encounters. Nearly 9 in 10 healthcare providers, for example, say they’re already using — or at least thinking about using — remote patient-monitoring tools.

That ever-widening aperture of digital health is bringing with it new capabilities across data science and predictive analytics thanks to more interoperability among systems, added Raj Ramaswamy, Healthcare Industry Solutions Leader at Cognizant. As data becomes more fluid and accessible, it stands to enable more efficient and effective research through decentralized trials and real-world evidence.

“All of the different stakeholders — whether payers, providers or life sciences companies — are using digital to drive clinical outcomes,” he said. “With tight data integration, you can access the patient’s longitudinal record not just to make clinical research more personalized but to make it more accessible, too.”

Delivering on digital’s promise with a stronger strategy

As the broader fusion between healthcare and life sciences takes place, biopharma leaders might want to re-imagine the way they prepare for the inevitable changes ahead, Hill added. He suggested that stakeholders develop a long-term plan that accounts for four strategic areas:

  • Thinking more holistically about the shared health and life sciences ecosystem.
  • Intention and action around creating people-first experiences.
  • Sustainable scalability by staying operationally agile.
  • Value-adding platforms and partnerships, such as data sources or technologies.

One implication of that more expansive approach is staffing, he said. In a labor market that is still volatile, biopharma companies will want to engage in more purposeful talent-management programs that diversify experiences and even influence the organizational structure itself.

“Organizations need to be open to adopting new skill sets and hiring new people,” he said. “Concurrently, you may want and need to evolve operational workflows to better support these new additions. It’s not just about being open to that kind of change but also being committed to it at all leadership levels.”

Gleaning the benefits of digital-transformation partnerships

Digital transformations in the life sciences will vary widely depending on a variety of factors, from therapeutic area and treatment type to persona journeys and service capabilities. But no matter the pipeline specifics, most programs will benefit from strong partnerships as well as consultants to enable them, Hill said.

“Consultants serve not only to broker the relationship but also as the glue to help align the right people, systems and underlying infrastructure, including agreements, commitments and technologies,” he said. “This is what helps re-imagine what’s possible through partnership.”

But if diverse partners — and, in turn, diverse data sets such as EHR, claims and consumer insights — are to successfully coexist in this ecosystem, their objectives should be aligned, Ramaswamy said. Identifying the similarities of different stakeholders across shared goals can help further support the longevity of these relationships.

“You have to align incentives for partnerships to work,” he said. “Taking the friction out is not easy, but if the incentive starts to match up, then it becomes much more straightforward.”

Synergy for better shared experiences

Digital transformation has much to offer life sciences as well as healthcare — and the synergies between the two can further optimize the power of digital health, clinical trials and patient outcomes. As innovations such as cell and gene therapy become more sophisticated and ubiquitous, this fusion between the two will become even more critical.

Fortunately, life sciences companies can take advantage of these new opportunities with a stronger strategy, willingness to adapt organizationally and modern-day partnerships. If you’d like help getting there, reach out to Cognizant.

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