The industry continues to flex its muscle when it comes to innovation through the use of digital technology. While life sciences companies over the years have tended to be laggards in this respect as compared to other industries, they’ve really come to understand the importance of using digital technology. It’s a necessity. It’s an integral part of their programs. Companies realize the new ways their patients are communicating and the high expectations they maintain because of the digital era in which they live. They also understand how, through the use of digital and mobile devices, healthcare outcomes can dramatically improve.
Whenever a large company appoints a new chief, it’s an important headline that may highlight the company’s ambitions, strategic direction, and intentions. So, when a top pharmaceutical company hires a new chief of digital, it’s difficult to overlook the critical role digital plays in life sciences.
That’s exactly what happened at GlaxoSmithKline in 2017. The company appointed Karenann Terrell, who previously served as the CIO of Walmart. When you bring an executive from the world’s largest (by revenue) company, which happens to focus on selling directly to consumers, good things should happen.
Novartis is another example of a large pharmaceutical company that is increasing its focus on digital. It recently hired Bertrand Bodson as the company’s chief digital officer. Mr. Bodson was the chief digital and marketing officer for Argos, the third-largest online retailer in the UK.
While bringing a leader from outside the industry can often shape a company’s appetite for digital, life sciences organizations have already proven their aptitude for innovation and technology. Innovative mobile apps and digital devices meant to educate, increase adherence, and provide clinical, safety and healthcare professionals with more (and better) data are being developed at an increasing rate.
Hemocraft, a game based on Minecraft and developed by Pfizer in partnership with Drexel University and the hemophilia community, aims to help young people with hemophilia understand the need for integrating treatment into their routines. Users of the game learn what treatment entails and how to stick to a treatment plan.
The HemMobile Striiv Wearable, a wearable device for patients with hemophilia, was created this year to track activity levels and monitor heart rate. The bracelet feeds data into a complementary app, which can give healthcare professionals better insight into patients’ conditions.
While paper has been the primary means of data collection for over a decade, the creation of new apps enables patients to report symptoms in real time. This digital and remote way of collecting data can save patients and healthcare providers a significant amount of time and increase the accuracy of data. With today’s devices, one doesn’t have to remember how he or she was feeling at a particular point in time.
Kenneth M. Farber, co-CEO and co-president of the Lupus Research Alliance, highlighted an app the organization created, alongside Pfizer, for lupus patients.
“This is an important step in demonstrating that mobile technology can improve how and what patients report to their care teams about subjective but serious symptoms of lupus, such as debilitating fatigue,” he said. “This app may enable more frequent and consistent reporting from patients, thus providing better information for care teams and empowering patients to take a larger role in developing future therapies.”
With each passing day, companies are developing better ways to monitor health conditions. Where in the past, patients would need to be in a doctor’s office or hospital with large equipment at their side, mobile has now enabled taking monitoring on the go.
Abbott’s Confirm Rx Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM) is a great example. It’s the world’s first smartphone-compatible ICM that automatically gathers vital cardiac information and delivers the data to physicians via the myMerlin mobile app, providing the ability to monitor heart rhythms remotely.
Sanofi’s My Dose Coach is another wonderful example of a how a mobile app can improve patient safety and medication adherence. The app, created for adult type 2 diabetes patients on once-daily, long-acting basal insulin, can calculate the patient’s recommended basal insulin dose according to the dose plan his or her doctor has created. The patient simply enters his or her fasting blood glucose and gets a recommended basal insulin dose.
To learn about other trends that we can also expect to see in 2018, click here.