Seizing the digital opportunities in pharma
by Marc Herlant, Simon Bauwens
Preparing your organization and monetizing the digital technologies

Digitalization in healthcare is booming, and creates unprecedented opportunities to further improve health standards and accessibility. Still, large pharma companies are confronted with the challenge of selecting, funding and developing the right projects among myriad initiatives: What is the right starting point and framework to compete? What to prioritize? How to make digital pervasive in the organization? How to monetize it?

Based on our recent experience, we at Arthur D. Little have developed a pragmatic framework to characterize and evaluate the opportunities, define and prioritize the related initiatives, and ensure that there is a clear business rationale – along with its financial business case – supporting them. We share below some of the learnings from our recent work with pharmaceutical companies in this area.

Figure 1: From foundation to digitally enabled business models

1. Personalized medicine thanks to innovative digital business models

Like in other industries, digital technologies are about to disrupt traditional business models in healthcare. Chronic diseases, in particular, offer increasing opportunities to provide comprehensive therapeutic solutions on top of drugs that offer improved outcomes and superior convenience for patients and caregivers.

While data privacy and regulations remain concerns, increasingly empowered patients are willing to share their medical information to get improved treatments and personalized care. The capture of real-world data by connected devices – in some cases, in real time – is one of the key enablers of innovative therapeutic solutions, paving the way to tailoring treatment to specific needs. The amount of data captured through connected items is exploding and, while the full value of the information is not yet captured or used, several remarkable initiatives are developing: as shown the examples in Figures 2 and 3 demonstrate, pharma companies are collaborating with partners that have strongly developed capabilities with regards to specific technologies, in order to provide new forms of treatments to their patients.

In addition to these transformational initiatives, most players are experimenting with more focused pilots in R&D, commercial and industrial operations.

Figure 2: Sanofi and Verily develop a new business model in diabetes

Figure 3: Several major initiatives combining digital technologies and traditional pharma will change the treatment paradigm