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October 21, 2015
The future of applications in life sciences: Seizing disruptive technologies
By: Brags Srinivasan

Three design principles life sciences companies should implement to future-proof their applications.

We estimate that new digital business models have the potential to unlock more than $100 billion of commercial value in the US life sciences industry over the next five years. In the US branded pharmaceutical market, an improved, digitized customer experience could drive $4.6 billion in incremental revenue, while digitizing commercial operations could yield $5.2 billion in cost efficiencies industry-wide.

However, many life sciences companies are trying to compete in the digital world with applications that were designed for another era. Existing applications are often monolithic, slow to implement and slow to change, and most life sciences companies have several dozen applications, the majority of which are not integrated or capable of sharing data. In some cases, content is still significantly paper-based.

To seize the opportunities provided by disruptive digital technologies, companies need to rethink how applications should be built and deployed. We believe three design principles are especially important:


To compete with agility and speed, companies can no longer focus only on complex, lengthy and expensive coding of applications, or rigid systems built from the ground up. Instead, they need a new way to build software that is faster, flexible and more liquid, and that lets them develop applications that are modular, component-based and API-driven. With this liquid approach, applications can become more patient-centric and consumer-oriented.

Pegasystems – a developer of strategic applications for sales, marketing, service and operations – is demonstrating the flexibility and speed of liquid application development. Pega can improve time to market and the speed of application deployment through plug-and-play approaches that avoid the need for unit and regression testing cycles. Accenture is building on Pega technology to create a prototype patient-care management platform, which will enable healthcare providers to deliver timely advice, guidance and treatment based on more accurate assessments of patients’ conditions.


To manage the growing volume, velocity and complexity of data, and to maximize the business value of both internal and external data, including that from the physical world, companies should consider embedding software intelligence in applications. Intelligent applications offer three critical capabilities—intelligent automation, integrated analytics and self-governance.

Clinical operations present a perfect opportunity to use intelligent capabilities. We are in discussions with Novartis, for example, on a predictive analytics solution using Predixion software. Today, data is collected in applications that focus on patient characteristics, what their clinical charts look like and how they react to certain clinical drugs. The new solution attaches modules on top of those applications to analyze this data and determine if there is any risk of adverse events to a patient or any risk of data anomalies that might lead to halting the clinical trials.


To grow revenue and defend their market position, businesses must open new dimensions of application connectivity—within the enterprise, with business partner and customer ecosystems, with the rapidly growing Internet of Things, and using different devices and channels.

In our industry, consider the host of healthcare ecosystem partners that touch a patient—from initial diagnosis, to treatment, to prescription or non-prescription treatments, all the way through to wellness programs. In the traditional model, all those players acted independently. Today, however, we are seeing a convergence of connections between the various providers and payers.

Today’s life sciences industry is increasingly high velocity and software driven. Sooner or later, these two realities will push every company to rethink its potential and reinvent itself. The opportunity is there to begin that reinvention today, starting with a fundamentally new approach to the business of applications.

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