As 2013 moves along, we’re seeing a wealth of articles and blogs highlighting digital and social media trends to look out for throughout the year. What is striking is the increasingly specific nature of these predictions. It is no longer enough to say social media or digital are important or that more people are using apps, these points are practically beyond debate. Now the questions being asked and the insights emerging suggest that there is a need to explore the particulars of these trends, how they might impact the industry and the opportunities and challenges they present, demonstrating how far the industry has come in the past few years.
A new report from Accenture is a case in point. The management consultancy has identified six technology trends set to influence companies over the next three to five years and they’ve now supplemented this with a report looking at how these will specifically impact the pharma and life sciences industry. The trends they’ve identified are quite technical and go beyond healthcare communications, but they certainly demonstrate the way digital is moving and how pharma companies are expected to respond to this shift:
1. Context-based services: Essentially, the convergence of real world and digital data to draw conclusions about consumer experiences. Context based services have evolved from the rise of cloud computing, social media and increased usage of mobile devices. Crucially, the approach has already been adopted by pharma companies looking to engage directly with patients.
2. Converging data architectures: This is about developing new ways for effectively handling data. Pharma companies have increasingly large amounts of data to contend with and are already demonstrating an appetite for exploring these new data architectures.
3. Industrialised data services: In much the same vein as the data architectures trends, pharma companies are starting to realize the value of data as an asset that can be utilized for multiple purposes when shared more freely.
4. Social-driven IT: As we all probably know, social media is a powerful catalyst that has changed the way customers, employees and partners use technology to interact with the world around them. While most pharma companies now accept this fact, the challenge will be to recognise its full potential and make the most of it, something we’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog.
5. PaaS-Enabled Agility: You will probably have heard of cloud computing, even if you’re not completely clear what it is! Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is an extension of this, which combines cloud computing with a series of software applications and allows apps to be created by users.
6. Orchestrated analytical security: Of course, all this growth in connectivity, as well as presenting numerous opportunities, has also increased the potential security risks and pharma companies will need to show their ability to adapt to the changing environment and explore new ways of handling these risks.
There is a more detailed analysis of the insights on the PMLive website, which also provides some really good examples of pharma companies that are already adopting some of this new technology. Definitely one to bookmark.
Image from Geek and Poke
Finally, in another example of this more nuanced, specialized approach to digital insights, this thoroughly recommended article on the website Eye for Pharma looks at the role social media plays in patient adherence. The article suggests that just because a doctor recommends a new medication to a patient, it doesn’t mean that the patient will necessarily go along with it. In fact, the article claims “…a whole universe of interactions takes place outside the medical environment that can change the direction of a patient’s care”.
Many patients will now look online to weigh up the pros and cons of a drug, and in fact 30% of the patient posts online that Eye for Pharma looked at, indicated that they decided not to take a physician recommended medication due to information they had received from their online peers.
This is a really interesting perspective on this particular part of the patient journey and a demonstrable example of the way social media is affecting the industry.