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Big Data Analytics to Have Major Impact on Pharma Next Year

Big data analytics is expected to have the biggest technology impact on the pharmaceutical industry in 2019, according to a survey of pharm professionals by GlobalData.

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Source: Thinkstock

By Fred Donovan

- Big data analytics is expected to have the biggest technology impact on the pharmaceutical industry in 2019, according to a survey of pharm professionals by GlobalData.

Thirty-eight percent of industry respondents identified big data analytics as the most significant tech trend for the pharmaceutical industry next year. Big data use cases identified by respondents include determining potential drug candidates, monitoring of clinical trials, analyzing trends in electronic health records, improving tracking of patient statistics, predicting healthcare outcomes, and designing treatment protocols.

“Increasingly high volumes of data are required for all decisions, and big data will not only alter the regulatory process as we know it, but payers will increasingly require this evidence as a pre-requisite for reimbursement,” said GlobalData Global Head of Pharma Bonnie Bain.

Respondents identified artificial intelligence as the second most significant tech trend for the pharmaceuticals industry in 2019.

“Companies need to understand the specific benefits that technologies such as AI can offer and how it can help their organization. Investing in AI and big data will not provide a cure for business problems so do not believe the hype and set realistic expectations for success. There are also a lot of AI solutions on the market and not all of them are right for every business objective. Choosing the right solution for your business need is key! Also partner for success,’’ said Bain.

The focus on big data and AI is a shift from the past two years where cybersecurity was the key tech trend. This was driven by several prominent breaches including the 2017 cyberattack that led to a temporary production shutdown at Merck and disruption of its global operations. While cybersecurity may be a core competency now, GlobalData anticipates that AI will lead the way in 2019.

In 2018, most pharma companies were still in the early stages of implementing their AI strategy but in 2019, AI will be one of the core areas of focus and investment in the pharmaceutical industry, predicted GlobalData.

“Organizations are investing in AI not to reduce cost but rather to drive product innovation, grow revenue, gain operational efficiency and improve the customer experience. Once fully implemented, AI will enable real-time decision-making and could become a transformational force in healthcare,” concluded Bain.

Big data analytics is expected to have a major impact on other areas of healthcare. In fact, a recent survey of 244 health IT professionals by Frost & Sullivan found that 80 percent of respondents judged that AI and big data analytics would be game changes for the healthcare industry in 2019.

Recently, the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) opened a data analytics center to help identify and address gaps in care.

The Center for Health Analytics, Research and Transformation (CHART) is using health data from many sources and applying analytics and predictive modeling to identify and understand problems and work with NJHA members, policy experts, and others to find solutions.

“So many of the problems we see in healthcare today — racial and ethnic disparities, access to care barriers, variations in use of healthcare services, variables in access and funding of prevention and wellness — require a deeper dive into why,” said NJHA President and CEO Cathy Bennett.

“One of the ways we get closer to answering that question is to have solid data that shows us the root causes of these problems. We can then support design of solutions that address the foundation of the problem, rather than the symptoms,” Bennett added.

One area of focus for the center will be chronic diseases and conditions. Around half of adults suffer from one or more chronic health conditions, and three quarters of US healthcare expenditures go for people with chronic and mental health conditions, according to NJHA.

“The costs of chronic diseases are far too high, for both individuals and for the healthcare system,” said CHART Senior Vice President Sean Hopkins. “But it doesn't have to be that way. Our goal is to use data in a new way to educate providers of all types, as well as policy makers and opinion leaders, to facilitate communication and care coordination where there are opportunities for proactive change for improved chronic disease management,” Hopkins concluded.

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