What pharma stands to gain from technological innovation

digital health and well being app

A growing number of patients and healthcare providers alike are focussing on preventative health and wellbeing measures, rather than relying on drugs alone as a post-diagnosis cure. As such, the use of digital health apps, virtual care platforms and AI-driven health and wellbeing solutions is growing exponentially, with the digital health market for pharma expected to reach $45.5 billion in value by 2025.

Indeed, digital health innovations hold huge potential for pharma, in terms of both financial profit and future industry potential. This explains why key industry players, like AstraZeneca and Pfizer, are investing millions in digital health platforms ready to reap the many benefits of technological innovation that the sector has long been aware of.

So, what exactly do pharma companies stand to gain from digital development?

More data – fast

One of the greatest advantages the digital health market can offer pharma is data. Through the widespread use of wearable technologies and their accompanying applications, pharma companies can access a much larger pool of patient data, in real time, from a much wider-ranging population. Furthermore, this can be done remotely, without the need to facilitate physical premises or face-to-face staff to conduct in-person clinical trials.

In addition to saving considerable amounts of money and increasing big data potential, this development serves to eliminate ‘whitecoat hypertension’ – inaccurate results that can appear in patients affected by study nerves. Moreover, as the accuracy and capabilities of remote sensors grows, through clinical-grade implantable devices, ingestible sensors, and smart clothing and patches, companies can monitor a much wider range of conditions, growing impact in the treatment of a number of chronic conditions as a result.

For example, take IMU technologies, geo-positioning, and actigraphy, which can now be used to monitor movement and gross motor function without ever coming into contact with the patient. Thanks to these innovations, pharma can have much more meaningful, data-driven impact at a much lower cost.

Adherence matters

In order to leverage this impact successfully, however, pharma companies need to develop accompanying platforms and applications that link to these devices, such that patients can access their own health data in a format that’s meaningful to them. Certain applications can even function on a standalone basis and still provide the necessary data, provided that pharma can encourage people to engage with the technologies on a regular, ongoing basis.

The challenge, then, is achieving adherence. In order to benefit from reliable clinical data and be able to use patient biomarkers to inform future decisions and products, pharma developers need to ensure that patients keep coming back to their apps. As such, it’s important to provide true, meaningful value through the technologies on offer.

Value-added healthcare

One of the most effective ways to achieve this desired adherence is to offer customisable solutions, rather than off-the-shelf wellbeing products. Nevertheless, this can be difficult to achieve via traditional development methods. Indeed, it can take up to two years to develop a standardised, minimum viable product (MVP) when building from scratch, making it next to impossible to deliver the required levels of personalised engagement in a timely manner. Moreover, the development process can prove costly, much like vendor-led solutions, which can often run into the millions. Whilst these solutions can be developed more quickly, it very much depends on the vendor – and a charge and wait-time is associated with each individual customisation, once again inhibiting technological performance.

Regulated no-code platforms, designed specifically for pharma, stand as a singular solution to this problem, allowing companies to create bespoke health tools in just a matter of weeks, using a simple ‘drag-and-drop’ interface and a complete library of pre-existing, compliance-assured components. The pharma company requires no prior development experience and won’t take on the burden of legal manufacturer, but nonetheless maintains the agility and independence to develop a truly agile product that responds to genuine, evolving customer needs.

The clinical journey

Of course, the more value pharmaceutical companies can add throughout each stage of a user’s unique healthcare journey – be it for disease prevention or during diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare – the more they can consolidate their position as an essential component in the healthcare lifecycle. This further adds to pharma’s ability to produce targeted solutions and products that will drive adherence, revenue, and positive health results.

A journey consolidated

Consolidating the patient journey by allowing tech solutions to be integrated with existing health systems adds even more value, thus maximising growth opportunities and impact further. When data can be seamlessly shared between systems, digital tools add much greater value to both healthcare providers and patients, who further benefit from improved insight and communications. Integration is therefore a vital component in generating adherence.

Once again, this adherence is difficult to achieve via traditional methods, which tend to produce standardised, off-the-shelf solutions, rather than tailored technologies, thus limiting their application to patients’ lives. The more a tool lacks real-world meaning, the less it gets used, leading to abandonment. This is where opting for no-code solutions can really boost digital performance.

When apps have more personalised features, made possible though rapid-implementation no-code changes based on real-world feedback, people are more likely to keep using them, incorporating them into their daily lives. An alarming 80% of digital health apps fail from pilot to scale, with a further 53% getting uninstalled within 30 days of download, proving just how valuable patient-led ‘sticky’ features are when it comes to pharm-led technological innovation.

Medication adherence and improved patient outcomes

When continued, regular use can be secured through patient-centric app features, medication adherence, and results can furthermore be improved. At present, 47% of all the digital health apps available serve to help patient manage chronic conditions. If medication reminders can be issued to these patients via a relevant app, more people will stick to their prescribed treatment courses, giving the pharmaceutical companies that developed the drugs a more accurate picture of the outcomes. With medication adherence serving as one of the biggest barriers to treatment success at present, the development of the engaging platforms required to achieve this is one step pharma simply can’t afford to skip.

Why no-code is essential

Regulated, pharma-specific no-code platforms are the best way for pharma to achieve its digital potential, facilitating the independent development of non-vendor-bound tools within a responsive timeframe. Features can be adapted to individual patient and user requirements without the need for development expertise and solutions based on user feedback can be trialled, implemented, and adapted via the simple interface to make pharma apps more patient centric. Pharma can then iterate and scale its success, adding further value to patients’ lives as it reaps the many data-driven rewards required to secure its own successful future.

Shameem C Hameed
profile mask
Shameem C Hameed