Partnering up: How biopharma commercial and R&D can accelerate digital product development

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, having a digital health strategy has gone from a luxury to a necessity. A company’s digital health strategy increases its efficiency, profitability and ability to serve patients. In a world where a trip to a crowded doctor’s office can post a threat to a patient’s health, digital solutions are literal lifesavers. This means companies that embrace digital remain competitive, while those that drag their feet struggle to stay relevant.

So, how can you stay on the cutting edge of digital innovation? The key is to establish a strong partnership between your Commercial and R&D teams. We recently released a white paper exploring this topic, How Biopharma Commercial and R&D Can Partner to Accelerate Digital Innovation. In it, we looked at healthcare’s less-than-stellar record of adopting digital solutions, the need to optimize therapies with digital ASAP and the steps to achieving a strong partnership between Commercial and R&D.

In this article, we’re zooming in on the major themes of the white paper. To take a closer look at the five steps you should take to develop a Commercial-R&D partnership, keep an eye out for our upcoming blog post on that topic.

Accelerating Digital Innovation in the Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry has been historically slow to adopt digital strategies and technologies. Fred Hassan, Chairman of The Caret Group, Director of Warburg Pincus LLC, and Board Member of Amgen, Theramex and Vertice, suggests that the industry is about halfway there.

“If you compare healthcare to financial services or the airline industry, for example, it’s just not that far advanced,” he explains. “If you were to ask me to score it from zero to 100, it’s probably at 50 right now.”

Despite the lag, healthcare is on the right path. Thought leaders Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Chairman of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and Brent Saunders, Former Chairman, Founder, and CEO at Allergan, see a lot of potential in the industry’s adoption of digital, including democratized healthcare and increasingly robust findings from clinical trials.

Hassan points out that COVID-19 has sped up digital innovation in the healthcare industry, because it “can provide you with a competitive advantage, especially during a global pandemic.” He goes on to highlight the rise of e-commerce, suggesting that biopharma is seeing similar benefits to digital retailers.

Optimizing Therapies with Digital

Today’s successful healthcare organizations are embracing digital. If you want to keep up, you can start by asking yourself questions such as:

“From a pharma perspective, the most important point for me is that digital health innovation should not be approached as an ‘add-on’ to a medication—neither from R&D or from the Commercial side,” says Tobias Siberzahn, a Partner at McKinsey & Company. “Instead, digital health innovation should be grounded in a deep understanding of patient needs.”

When your R&D team discovers the patient needs they would like to address, they can share those insights with your Commercial team using digital tools. Establishing a loop that cycles between product development and real-world use is one of the best ways to optimize therapies.

Helping Commercial and R&D Form a Successful Partnership

A partnership between Commercial and R&D is clearly beneficial to the process of going digital—so, how can you make it happen? These five steps have been vetted by experts, and they will take your organization’s digital innovation to the next level:

  1. Have a strong business case for pursuing digital, and define your success metrics up front
  2. Take an enterprise-wide approach
  3. Understand how regulatory requirements impact your digital strategy
  4. Take a strategic approach with IT and third-party vendors
  5. Measure your success as you go

The best way to stay current in today’s ever-changing healthcare industry is to look to leading firms—they’re already ahead in the race to go digital. Leveraging these five steps will help you do that.

Diving Deeper

To learn more about accelerating digital innovation by establishing a partnership between Commercial and R&D, check out our white paper, How Biopharma Commercial and R&D Can Partner to Accelerate Digital Innovation.

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