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Harnessing Digital to Construct New Business Models


Life sciences companies must go beyond digitizing individual operations, and instead harness digital to design and construct entirely new business models, writes Brags Srinivasan.

Companies are connected to a digital fabric and a global network which have the potential to impact all phases of their business. This grand network of businesses, individuals, and things has the power to introduce a new era in the digital age - the age of the “digital ecosystem.”

However, to capture the bigger prize, life sciences companies must go beyond digitizing individual operations, and instead harness digital to design and construct entirely new business models. They must embrace digital holistically to improve patients’ quality of life and capture the more than $100 billion of commercial value in the US in the next 5 years.[i]

Recently, Accenture’s Technology Vision 2015 surveyed more than 1,000 C-suite and D-suite executives across industries worldwide regarding trends in technology. More than 100 senior executives from life sciences firms participated across key developed and developing markets. We assessed key digital trends and their likely impact.

Getting Connected
According to the survey, nine of 10 life sciences respondents believe that “industry boundaries will dramatically blur as (digital) platforms reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems.” Moreover, 70 percent of respondents believe that the next generation of platforms will not be led by tech companies, but by industry players and leaders.

And, 60 percent plan to engage with new digital partners in the next two years, while 45 percent of respondents in developed markets are already using industry platforms to integrate data with digital business partners. Meanwhile, 26 percent are experimenting with these platforms.

Proof of the Digital Impact
Five trends show that digital is dramatically influencing the industry today, and will do so well into tomorrow.

1. The Internet of Me
There is a significant opportunity to digitally engage in disease prevention, monitoring and treatment. Apps and wearables are being harnessed to promote general wellness, treatment or prevention. About 73 percent of the life sciences IT and business executives, whom Accenture surveyed, report either using or experimenting with wearables to engage customers, employees, or partners.

But to succeed in creating highly personalised experiences, life sciences companies must create a bond of trust between themselves and the patient. 

2. Outcome Economy
New intelligence in embedded hardware and sensors is yielding better health outcomes. With sensitive, less expensive sensors and highly connected hardware, it will become easier to personalize care, measure value, and target desired outcomes.

According to 86 percent of life sciences respondents, embedded intelligence will deliver better outcomes for customers. Cloud based real-world big data and real-time patient monitoring will drive value analytics, providing insights into patient outcomes that will drive successful value based pricing.  

In addition, by using diagnostic apps, smart pills, and remote patient wearables, almost every aspect of R&D can focus on outcomes. Care coordination through collaboration and data exchange is receiving increased emphasis, providing opportunities for life sciences companies to participate in the outcome economy.

3. The Platform (R)evolution
Platform businesses are changing the world. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “In 2013, 14 of the top 30 global brands by market capitalization were platform oriented companies - companies that created and now dominate arenas in which buyers, sellers, and a variety of third parties are connected in real time.”[ii]

Healthcare IT platforms capture data from disparate sources, such as wearables, phones, and glucometers, and connect them, creating a new era of personalized treatment. For life sciences, Accenture sees potential for disruptors to emerge in four key ecosystems:

• The Provider: Allowing two-way external and internal collaboration that enables the control of access points and supports functions within clinical operations and commercial operations.

• The Patient: Providing comprehensive patient support, including trial recruitment, pre-market awareness, enhanced physician touchpoints, intelligent patient services, and smart population management to drive outcomes.

• The Product: Using open innovation to determine the right combination of pills, services, diagnostics, and stakeholders to deliver patient services that can be effectively monetized.

• Regulatory and Reimbursement: Generating high-quality compliant content for approvals, pricing and risk management; and supporting current functions, such as regulatory affairs, health economics and outcomes research, medical affairs, and academic partnerships.

Already, 80 percent of the life sciences survey respondents are strengthening digital capabilities by taking part in open innovation, exchanging data and technology to deliver better outcomes to partners and customers.

4. The Intelligent Enterprise
A data explosion, accompanied by advances in processing power, health analytics and cognitive technology, is fueling software intelligence. Medical devices and wearables now recognize, “think” and respond to make rapid informed decisions. According to our survey, more than 40 percent of life sciences companies expect to see data volumes increase by at least 50 percent in the coming year.

The life sciences industry should establish a data supply chain. This would provide payers real world evidence of drug value; improve predictive models that would evaluate patient risks based on a wider set of sources; and optimize patient safety by rapidly detecting adverse events.

The life sciences industry also should invest in software intelligence to improve big-data analytical capabilities and incorporate a growing volume of data ranging from laboratory results and remote sensor data to social posts. Early insights could be gained. The FDA is collaborating with online patient network PatientsLikeMe to determine how patient-reported data can give new insights into drug safety. And on the intelligent decision making front, Isabel Healthcare offers a web-based system designed to assist clinicians in diagnosing rare diseases.

5. A Workforce Reimagined
As the digital revolution gains momentum, augmented devices - smart glasses, wearables - are providing more portability, insights, and unprecedented contextual information to scientists, clinicians, and doctors during research, drug development and clinical trials.  

Life sciences companies must determine how to train and certify both human and machine interfaces for R&D, manufacturing, and sales. As a matter of fact, 74 percent of all life sciences respondents believe that companies must focus on training their machines as much as they do training people, using intelligent software, algorithms, and machine learning.

The Accenture survey results suggest that industry executives recognize the urgency to capitalize on digital. But companies within and outside the traditional life sciences industry must design and build entirely new business models, embracing digital. They must go beyond the confines of traditional industry, product, and customer boundaries to find entirely new ways to meet customer needs.

[i] Capturing the $100 billion opportunity for Life Sciences: are you a digital transformer or follower? Accenture 2015.
[ii] The Ups and Downs of Dynamic Pricing, Innovation@Work blog, October 31, 2014. http://executive.mit.edu/blog/the-ups-and-downs-of-dynamic-pricing#.VglYZPlVhBc.

About the Author
Brags Srinivasan is Managing Director, Life Sciences – Technology, at Accenture.

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