A Guide to Digital Transformation – Revolutionizing the Life Sciences Industry
Digital transformation is becoming a business imperative for life sciences and biopharmaceutical organizations. Unfortunately, despite leadership commitment, only 20% have been able to successfully execute a digital transformation, which is below the 35% average seen in other industries. This lack of success appears to be due to an incremental approach that has resulted in 88% of digitalization efforts happening within silos, not company-wide.
In our article 7 Patient-Centric User Experience Tips That Drastically Improve Your Healthcare Website, we highlighted the projected growth of the industry with key ways to improve user experience. But to implement most, if not all of those changes, there must be an understanding of the kind of digital transformation required.
Why is a digital transformation so important? Digital transformation in life sciences has the potential to revolutionize healthcare and biomedical research. Enhanced computational capabilities and data-driven analytics make countless advancements possible.
Significance of digital transformation for life sciences organizations
Life science and pharmaceutical industries collect and leverage vast amounts of data. The technologies behind this complex data are extremely powerful and getting smarter by the day. It is sometimes easy to forget that real users will need to handle this information. Interfaces and user experience act as the conduit between technologies and the user. A user-focused approach to understanding users’ needs leads to informed decision-making about what data needs to be shown and the best ways to display that information.
So, what does a digital life science transformation look like?
1. Automation and data-driven decision-making
The key to proficiency is automation by using the available data to drive decisions. Life science companies are moving towards a data-driven decision-making business model. But what does this entail? This concept explores and capitalizes on data capture, constant communication across stakeholders, data centers and sources, and analytical tools capable of extracting value from the data.
Data silos are slowly becoming a thing of the past, especially when it comes to healthcare. Having the big picture at every point and all available information of the decision-making process, ensures that nothing is left to chance.
2. Cloud computing and big data analytics
Researchers and those involved in clinical trials encounter tons of data. So, storage and accessibility are a big deal. Having easy access to data to help with processing and dissemination but also analytics makes the entire process easier and more efficient. This is where cloud computing and big data analytics are making a mark.
McKinsey reported that Industry leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the transformative nature of cloud technology. They noted that Moderna was able to deliver its first clinical batch of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to the US National Institutes of Health for Phase I trial only 42 days after the initial sequencing of the virus by using cloud technology.
3. Internet of Things (IoT) applications in life sciences
Some time ago, we briefly touched on the consumer perspective of the IoT attributing the advancements to collected data cheap computing power, and artificial intelligence with machine learning capabilities. So, how does that help the life science industry?
IoT also has had a major impact on reducing healthcare costs significantly and improving treatment outcomes. The global IoT market share is expected to grow from 127.7 billion USD in 2023 to 289.2 billion USD in 2028. Grandview research reported an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.8% from 2023 to 2030.
The IoT market is driven by the increasing usage of smartphones, smart devices, and wearables to monitor patients. There is also increasing adoption of remote patient monitoring for improved out-of-hospital care boosts the market. Rising investments in implementing digital technologies in healthcare institutions, and the emergence of connected care are the key factors boosting industry growth. Technological advancements and the growing geriatric population coupled with the rising prevalence of chronic conditions are also positively impacting the market expansion.
4. Blockchain technology for secure data sharing
Naturally, data security will be a mitigating factor when upgrading technologies in the life science industry. Sensitive data gets passed through many channels or could potentially get lost or get in the hands of malicious individuals. Blockchain technology is a solution that champions security through ownership. Blockchain offers a decentralized system for managing data and transactions in a peer-to-peer network. This system allows for data distribution divided into blocks. Each block is then protected from intruders attempting to alter the data. Every change in the data needs to be validated by all users in the network using advanced techniques.
What this means is that every access comes with a specific validation code that is unique to the user. Creating a greater sense of security and accountability.
Challenge or Opportunity?
While these changes echo a great efficiency across the industry, it does leave many leaders wondering if their institution can handle this, but also how long will it take? While there is no straightforward answer, one of the best things every organization can do is start. How each of these improvements will shape and impact your organization largely depends on what steps you are willing to take.
Of course, every upgrade comes with challenges in implementing a user experience that facilitates change and improves efficiency. According to a recent study, life science executives expressed concern that artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), analytics, and business intelligence could have a significant impact on medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. The uncertain financial landscape of consumers is making it difficult for people to afford medical care due to the persistent threat of inflation.
While cost is the most obvious challenge, there could be hesitation from executives in finding the right partner to execute the project, and some industries may face supply chain disruptions. Regardless of the challenges, improving the user experience for the life science industry is crucial to their success.
The Design Solution Guide
The future of medical care will be personalized, patient-centric, and data-driven, holding plenty of opportunities for digital innovation. In our guide on improving user experience, we noted that some changes require incremental improvements. Here is your guide to transforming any life science user experience.
Keep The User In Mind
User-centric design principles understand user needs and workflows. From clinical trials, research, and development to wearable and healthcare services, it is crucial to understand how each user will interact with websites, gadgets, and other interfaces. Usability.gov described the following as the general phases of the user-centered design process:
- Specify the context of use: Identify the people who will use the product, what they will use it for, and under what conditions they will use it.
- Specify requirements: Identify any business requirements or user goals that must be met for the product to be successful.
- Create design solutions: This part of the process may be done in stages, building from a rough concept to a complete design.
- Evaluate designs: Evaluation – ideally through usability testing with actual users – is as integral as quality testing is to good software development.
In a study for clinical research, it was found that user-centered usability methods can identify important issues and capture information that can enhance the participant’s experience and may improve the quality of study tools.
Remember, you are designing for different personas so the interfaces must be intuitive and responsive. Notably, there is an increase in the number of telehealth services, attributed to the rise in healthcare costs but more so the convenience for patients who only need preventative visits. Allowing for a seamless experience between patients and doctors increases the number of visits, but also leaves room for physicians to spend more time with sicker patients in-office.
Develop a Data Process
Every aspect of digital transformation requires access to data across teams and stakeholders. Life sciences generate massive amounts of data used for research such as disease identification, drug discovery, clinical trials, and genome sequencing. Life science data management is the practice of collecting, storing, and processing all that data.
Here are some things to consider:
- Enhanced Security and compliance: The complexity and sensitivity of the data collected during clinical trials, or medical examinations must be secure.
- Eliminating Data Silos: One of the biggest goals of every industry in this technological age is to ensure that there is adequate and accurate information available for all departments to improve their decision-making processes. Fewer data silos increase the possibility for collaboration and cohesiveness across all departments.
- Encourage Good Practice (GxP): The term GxP is a general abbreviation for ‘good practice guidelines and regulations created to ensure that bio/pharmaceutical products are safe, meet their intended use, and adhere to quality processes during manufacturing, control, storage, and distribution. With regards to data, following GxP ensures that data integrity and reliability are maintained.
Take the patients using telehealth into consideration. HIPAA compliance and other data security issues must be diligently applied. Physicians and patients must be able to securely connect and complete visits. In addition, different physicians, pharmacies, and other healthcare professionals have access to properly administer the necessary treatment plans.
Plan for Updates
The changes are ongoing and the need for constant streamlining data access and analysis is what runs the life science industry. Again, using the telehealth perspective, this accounts for the integration of diverse data sources. The same baseline can also be applied to clinical research where multiple participants are likely to report varying levels of changes that could affect the efficiency of a drug or process. By simplifying data visualization and interpretation, updates are quicker, more efficient, and easy to plan across departments. Thereby providing real-time insights and predictive analytics.
Collaborate With Other Teams
There is never a shortage of platforms available for sharing knowledge. To eliminate data silos, integrate platforms that facilitate seamless collaboration among research teams. While not as simplistic as “copying my work”, having access to certain data helps other core teams build better processes and shareholders, and better decision-making. There will be no need to reinvent the wheel if certain information is already shared. This is also where an investment in blockchain technology could be useful. As mentioned earlier, this kind of technology helps to manage peer-to-peer work, so as data changes hands, what is being shared is protected and there is accountability on ownership. This centralized knowledge repositories and documentation increase data transparency, especially with the implementation of interactive communication tools.
Embrace Emerging Technologies
Science is evolutionary at its core. For the life science industry to keep up with itself, companies must leverage emerging technologies. Who would think that going to the doctor would be as easy as picking up your mobile phone? Or monitoring heart rate could be done remotely? Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning for data analysis is a welcomed practice in the healthcare industry. From using virtual and augmented reality for immersive experiences in mental health and neurological treatments. Also adding robotics and automation for laboratory processes will continue to revolutionize healthcare.
But the age-old question is, are you ready for that kind of change?
Industry-wide changes occur over time. Most of these are happening much faster than some companies can keep up. Whether due to lack of funding, information, or access to necessary data, some life science companies are lagging.
User experience naturally affects both internal and external users. Having a good base is key. A well-designed website prepares your organization for many of the core changes. Iteration is also vital. But a seamless process begins with clearly communicating what your organization does and for whom.
WDB’s work with companies in the life science industry has allowed those organizations to scale and continue to build on the framework for transformation. Let us help you get started with your transformation. A quick call with our digital marketing team could help you plan for the transformation your organization needs.
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