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Digital’s transformative power across R&D—Keeping pace with stakeholder expectations

Pharma and biotechnology stakeholders are already digital, so R&D organizations are looking to embrace digital to improve interactions and insights, and perform with greater operational and scientific efficiency.

Overview

The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry continues to experience massive change driven by external and internal factors that, combined, present opportunities for deep reflection and essential transformation.

  • External demographic and economic pressures include an aging global population, rising chronic disease, changing customer expectations and increasing regulatory scrutiny.

  • Internal Research & Development (R&D) organizations are considering important imperatives to help drive future success:

  • Pivot to the patient—transforming R&D models to be more patient outcome focused

  • Advance to the next generation of R&D operating models—facilitating cost reductions to improve productivity

  • Drive scientific and operational excellence—advancing faster time to market from first-in-human to approval

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Background

As identified in newly released Accenture research, Research & Development (R&D) organizations within pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are considering strategic imperatives necessary to enable future success.2The research underscores that R&D leaders are keenly focused on transforming R&D models to be more patient outcome focused, and it identifies the importance of digital in getting there. The research also shows that companies taking advantage of digital report stronger performance in other R&D capabilities.

With these insights in mind, we’ve authored a paper on digital’s transformative power across R&D. Our goal is to enable R&D organizations to better understand and realize the value of digital, and we suggest actions to move to a more holistic digital state.

Key Findings

R&D stakeholders are accustomed to living in a digital world where instant access to information and improved interactions are standard. They expect the same experiences during their interactions with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

This Accenture Point of View explores what digital R&D is and how R&D organizations can close the gap to harnessing its transformational power. To help companies examine this critical topic, we address some fundamental questions:

Digital can help drive transformation in R&D, but how?
Digital capabilities can be applied across the industry imperatives:

Pivot to the patient 

Digital creates patient connection and engagement.

Advance the next generation of operating models 

Digital creates a digitally empowered workforce.

Drive scientific and operational excellence
Digital creates data-driven insights and decision making.

Analysis

R&D’s primary stakeholders—patients, providers, payers, regulators and employees—have already begun to embrace digital. Patients use online forums and social networks to discuss conditions and treatments; providers exchange medical technique related videos. Payers and regulators have invested millions in analytics to assess the value of treatments and procedures. R&D employees are embracing virtual work environments through mobile and cloud based technology.

R&D stakeholders are accustomed to living in a digital world where instant access to information and improved interactions are standard. They expect the same experiences during their interactions with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. However, many R&D organizations lag behind their stakeholders’ expectations in adopting digital.

We see this as a critical juncture for companies to move beyond pilots and isolated initiatives and to embrace a more holistic approach to digital.

Recommendations

Accenture research shows companies that invest in building digital capabilities can boost profits.1  Yet, many companies often launch incremental digital pilots, many of these not refined and scaled.

Some R&D organizations appear digital, yet many are still seeking to build the necessary capabilities to realize digital’s potential value. Once R&D organizations move toward an integrated digital way of working, by implementing a holistic set of capabilities and improving priority processes such as clinical trials, aligned to a digital strategy, they can begin to realize the transformative power of digital in R&D.

Digital can play an important role in helping R&D organizations better understand specific disease states, and create products and services that improve patient experiences and long-term outcomes. Defining and implementing a digital strategy to transform current ways of working can help companies get the right products—targeted to the appropriate customer segment and condition, with improved outcomes in mind—to patients faster.