Technology is the biggest enabler in moving the pharmaceutical industry forward, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Technology is the biggest enabler to move the pharmaceutical industry forward

New Delhi: During the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has proven to be a major player in healthcare management and advancements across the globe. From automating healthcare delivery systems and referral processes to accelerating drug discovery and distribution, ensuring fast and secure access for all, the IT sector has solidified its key position in the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmaceutical industry leaders discussed the power of technology during a session on “Pharma CIOs Changing Paradigms: Striking Balance Between Business Agility and IT Quest” at the 2nd Economic Times Healthcare Leaders Summit 2022 hosted by ETHealthworld. The roundtable was moderated by Dr. Gaurav Arya, executive director of Health Nerds International. The session speakers were Jitendra Misra, VP-CIO, Akums Group, Vinayak Neerali, Head (India), Digital, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, and Sachin Bachal, Head, IT, Gufic Biosciences Limited.

Dr. Arya started the discussion by saying that technology is a big enabler for improving healthcare. She asked Misra a question, inquiring about how the IT ecosystem is integrating with the pharmaceutical industry’s vision of being a global innovator. Misra suggested that IT is now much more than an enabler and is, in fact, the center of medical advances, calling IT the most critical part of any pharmaceutical lifecycle, from drug discovery to distribution among the masses.

He said: “Over the years we have seen that most pharmaceutical companies are moving towards IT-OT integration. I have observed robotic automation and smart manufacturing becoming the norm. From the ERP era, we are now in the era of clinical trials with a load of heavy and remotely monitored applications from distant systems.”

Commenting on the role IT and COVID-19 play in the advancement of pharmaceuticals, Misra added, “The time between drug discovery and market release has shrunk from twelve to eight years. Our goal now is to shorten the cycle time to four years while making sure the drug reaches the patient and benefits them. The biggest enabler in our life cycle has been the coronavirus. Within two years, clinical trials were conducted and the vaccine was ready. This has set a new benchmark for pharmaceutical companies in how quickly we can enter the market and more importantly use the technology.”

Dr. Arya continued the talk by urging Neerali to share his insights on the right way to use data and later artificial intelligence and machine learning to help the pharmaceutical industry. Neerali explained the mismanagement and ignorance of data prior to COVID-19. He said: “The data and related assets were extremely fragmented and isolated. They weren’t connected at all, thanks to COVID, a lot of attention has gone into our ecosystem, especially data-generated insights. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been trying to fill these data gaps, generating a lot of insights about them. This was the first fundamental step.

He also explained how data must be used in order for it to have an impact and result in effective change. “When deciding how to derive insights from data, we consider three fundamental principles. Whether it’s big enough for us to pursue a certain idea, whether it’s relevant in terms of the uses we’re trying to target, and whether it’s surprising. When insight is a known fact, people tend to ignore it and therefore changing the management, adoption and overall implementation of the technology becomes much more challenging,” added Neerali.

Resonating with Neerali’s insights, Dr Arya added: ‘It is encouraging to see collaborations between various organizations within the healthcare sector, because, up until a few years ago, data was seen as my property over yours, now it’s changing. It’s patient data, it belongs in the community, and it’s great to see it being used that way so it can help improve patient outcomes in the future.”

Bachal then echoed the panelists’ views by saying, “Data is the new oil. Anyone who has been in this business for ten or twelve years is sitting on a gold mine of data. To make the best use of this data, the right combination of advanced technology is essential. We need to invest in technology that helps speed data analysis.”

Panelists concluded the session with the message that technology is a must to drive and accelerate research, innovation, discovery, business expansion and equitable access to the masses, not just in the pharmaceutical industry , but in all industries of the world .

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