Three opportunities for the healthcare and pharma industry

23 May 2019 4 min. read

Demographic shifts and the rise of tech-led competition are applying pressure to the costs and margins of the world of healthcare and pharmaceuticals, while regulatory scrutiny rises as watchdogs look to clamp down on poor service provision. Joaquim Grau, a Manager at Spanish management consultancy Alfa Consulting, sat with to discuss three trends enabling the healthcare industry to find ways to improve.

New age communication

According to Grau, in an age of social networks, apps and other digital communications mediums, healthcare providers now can tap into more communication channels to make the patient’s journey better. Doctors, patients and other health professionals can now use these avenues to stay informed, interact or even settle doubts. A rational use of apps by companies allows for the selection of messages tailored to each profile, before sending them using the most relevant channels in each case.

“As a result, it is possible to increase the impact of the actions we carry out while reducing the cost of the campaigns,” Grau explained. “However, it is important to keep an eye on the privacy of patients... We must not forget that this is a sector with many restrictions and compliance limitations that also apply to the online world.”

As a result, online marketing actions can only be directed to the consumer in non-prescription medicines (OTC). Therefore, many habitual strategies in social networks for non-OTC products are discarded.

Three opportunities for the healthcare and pharma industry

Changing organisational models

Faced with this complex and changing environment, new and innovative organisational models are merging. Grau stated that this is especially the case for those that are more agile, they are able to quickly adapt to emerging opportunities and threats.

Agile is making big impact in healthcare and pharmaceuticals, hastening decision making in operations and ultimately empowering people to improve the ways they work. It also helps to make more innovative business processes, able to tap into changing customer demand, and reducing the go-to-market time of products and services.

Implementing an agile development model requires organisational transformations, processes and team management. Grau said that first and foremost, these transformations need to aim to break interdepartmental silos and with the stakeholders, by working in multidisciplinary teams where the main departments involved are represented, alongside the vision of the stakeholders, including marketing, medical department and even compliance and market access.

Grau added “The development of equipment management systems that promote self-management, enabling the creative development of its members must also be a target. Defining and standardising the process for the development of cycles which reduce the time dedicated to organisational activities, administration and repetitive tasks is also important.”

The power of data science

Data science has massive potential for healthcare. By properly harnessing new technology, hospitals could harness the ‘big data’ and the power of population health analytics, and use the information to project where resources are most needed, or even where prevention would be most effective, lightening the load on the medical infrastructure by decreasing patient numbers. The NHS reportedly spent £640 million on consultants in 2014 alone, in a ‘cost saving’ exercise as the institution bid to access such analysis on where resources were best used, however the appropriate use of technology in this instance could all but eliminate such a cost.

One major improvement seen in recent years is the rise of analysis and visualisation tools that facilitating teams to have the relevant information needed to make decisions in their daily activities, ensuring that they make the right decisions at all. Grau explained, that thanks to the development of platforms such as Tableau, Qlick and Power Bi, the interactive analysis and visualisation of data has been democratised, making it available to all users tools that allow complex statistical analysis and attractive designs. However, solutions must be well designed.

“A common mistake is to give access to a large number of data and indicators, which in the end forces the users to navigate among them to find what they are looking for and ends up hindering the team’s decision-making. As a result organisations will have obtained just the opposite of what they were looking for… The information that they make available must be carefully designed in order to really serve the ultimate purpose: to help decision making.”

For more information on Joaquim Grau’s view on the healthcare and pharma industry, see the article ‘Innovación y digitalización, oportunidades en la industria farmacéutica’ on Spanish website