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June 03, 2016
Can digital help R&D organizations move toward a more patient outcome focus?
By: Nicole Faust Cohen

As the pharmaceutical industry makes a fundamental shift from a product focus to a patient outcome focus, R&D organizations must reflect this shift—from the processes they use, to the capabilities in which they invest. The question for many R&D organizations is how to make the transition given all the options available and very real budget constraints.

In our recent survey of R&D executives in France, Germany, Switzerland, the United States, and the United Kingdom, we discovered four key findings:

  1. Improving patient outcomes ranked as the #1 priority of R&D
    As likely expected, the vast majority of respondents report that transforming their R&D model to be more patient outcome focused is critical or very important. 39 percent of respondents ranked transforming R&D to be more focused on patient outcomes as among their current top three key priorities; .49 percent stated that it should be among their top three priorities.

    These objectives were followed closely by:

    • Developing more targeted therapies rather than broad-based therapies

    • Achieving faster time-to market from First in Human to Approval

    • Improving R&D productivity through increased quantity and quality of New Molecular Entities

  2. Digital is recognized as a primary driver of becoming more focused on patient outcomes
    Among respondents, 1 in 4 said that digital will have the greatest impact on their firm’s ability to transform their R&D model to become more patient-focused. This was the top rated response. A slightly smaller group (22 percent) thought that digitizing processes to improve R&D productivity would be the largest impact of digital.

    Executives see the application of digital technology as a way to improve patient outcomes by addressing patients in a more sophisticated way. Improving productivity, and enhancing product quality and innovation rounded out the top three benefits that digital could deliver.

  3. Adoption of digital is inconsistent; half of respondents are “all in” while others are on the fence
    There appeared to be an even split among survey respondents about their organization’s rate of adoption of digital. A little over half of executives confirm that their companies are already adopting digital while 42 percent characterize their firm’s efforts as “exploring” how digital might improve their organizations and 3 percent are “waiting and seeing” how digital is deployed before ramping up their capabilities.

  4. Companies taking advantage of digital report stronger performance in other R&D capabilities
    Executives from the companies in the cohort that have already adopted digital report stronger R&D abilities in key areas. Digital is seen as critical to their firms’ ability to use real-world data analytics and to achieving core process redesign of Target Product Profiles (TPPs) and Clinical Development Plans (CDPs).

    In addition to the split between companies that are leveraging digital compared to those who are merely exploring it, there is a similar division between companies focused on primary care products compared to specialty or hybrid organizations. Primary care organizations ranked digital in the top third of needed future capabilities, but rated their current digital capability in the lowest third. Hybrid and specialty care companies, however, rated digital as less important, and fewer have adopted digital, even though those that have tend to perform well in it.

    In my next post, I’ll look at the implications for pharmaceutical companies.

    In the meantime, to learn more, read the full report: Research Note: Industry at a Crossroads: The Rise of Digital in the Outcome-Driven R&D Organization

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