It took about 15 minutes for the Innovation Lab at Digital Pharma West to get underway before I found myself completely excited by what I was hearing. I was looking forward to attending this conference in hopes of hearing how some of the brightest minds in the pharma space were using digital platforms to shape the future of healthcare.
I expected to hear about how social media connected patients with pharma brands in new ways (which I did), how data could help identify patients suffering from even the rarest of diseases (which I did), and how personalized AI approaches could help bolster adherence in certain categories (which I did).
But what I didn’t expect to hear was the willingness to use technology as a solution to some of pharma’s most pressing problems and a desire to jump ahead of the curve.
During the very first presentation, a speaker from one of the largest pharma companies in the world discussed their investment in incubating technologies designed to tackle global unmet needs. This group isn’t just focused on spreading the reach of the company’s brand offerings. They’re focused on solving problems that exist during childbirth in third world countries, or how to immediately deal with signals of depression found in social media posts. From the first minute of the conference, it was clear that technology is being explored to do so much more than just grow the bottom line.
One company showcased how AI could accurately predict which patients were most likely to abandon the antidepressant treatments they need. We learned how biometrics collected from fitness applications can aid in the diagnosis of various conditions. One of the most gripping presentations we saw centered around a company built by tech gurus who applied their mastery of the digital space to Type 1 diabetes treatment. Driven by personal involvement with the disease, these pioneers are using data-driven solutions to simplify life for those reliant on insulin.
Leaping over the challenges
Throughout all of these presentations, there was an interesting underlying theme of what it takes to attain buy-in from C-suite executives for digital initiatives. These brilliant innovators all shared the process that allowed them to pursue their passions with the backing of investors and executives.
I left inspired. Not just by the technological wizardry on display, but also by the overall sense that decision-makers within the pharmaceutical industry are embracing digital advancements in disruptive ways. Patients are becoming just as likely to trust social media as their physician, and physicians are looking beyond traditional KOL engagements to non-traditional influencers.
Technology gives the pharmaceutical industry an opportunity to take risks and do things differently–something that it hasn’t always been the best at in the past. The tide is changing.
At Digital Pharma West, we moved beyond the discussions about how we need to ensure that we remain nimble to keep up with the speed of information exchanged online. In fact, there were actionable examples of how companies are doing this, or planning on doing it. The industry is acknowledging its obstacles and investing in finding solutions.
I left feeling like pharma is waking up, and that the future looks bright.