Improving operational efficiency in the pharmaceutical industry
The pharmaceutical industry has a reputation for people working in silos, but a new culture of secure collaboration is evolving that will help advance the incredibly complex work they do.
VP & Principal Analyst, Future of Work, Constellation Research.
The pharmaceutical industry has long been combating a litany of operational complexities, armed only with ill-suited, modified systems that haven't been designed to meet the needs of the sector. Adherence to regulatory guidelines, vertical structures, and inadequate technology have resulted in an ecosystem with negligible horizontal collaboration and prolific inefficiencies.
The impact of this fragmented situation is felt not just by the pharma companies themselves but also by stakeholders such as doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers. However, the current digital transformation era is enabling pharma companies to revolutionize their operations.
The pharmaceutical industry needs to transform
The demands on pharmaceutical companies are numerous, and until now, the tools they have been working with have not been fit for purpose.
Industry experts, IQVIA, describe the problem as follows:"One could argue that executives in commercial operations in most pharmacos today are magicians, 'making the most' by coupling non-industry-specific tools in a retrofitted way to meet the industry standards of efficiency, measurability, and effectiveness to enable differentiation in commercial operations."
One example of the challenges pharmaceutical companies are facing can be found in the problem of messaging. Pharmaceuticals need to get different kinds of messaging across to their stakeholders, but regulatory requirements mean that some of these messages must come from different representatives, e.g., sales vs. medical.
To prevent conflicts of interest, among other considerations, representatives from different departments are not permitted to discuss their interactions with a stakeholder. This is why silos in the industry are rife, but new cutting-edge technologies are driving change.
Improving operational efficiency in pharma
Stay ahead of the curve with these tactics for improving operational efficiency through digital transformation.
Tactic 1: Automate verification processes
When beginning a new relationship with a stakeholder or customer, pharmaceutical companies must verify their information as part of essential due diligence procedures. Manually verifying documents is time-consuming and leaves too much room for human error. However, by using the right software, this task can be automated, resulting in far fewer errors and providing more robust protection against threats such as fraud and money laundering.
Tactic 2: Employee/customer onboarding
Owing to the silos frequently found in pharma companies, there are often multiple and separate onboarding procedures. This creates a complex, confusing, and often paperwork-heavy experience for stakeholders, which can, in turn, damage trust in a burgeoning customer relationship. The solution to this problem is digital onboarding. A centralized documentation system will significantly streamline your procedures, reducing the workload for employees and providing a more efficient experience for stakeholders.
Tactic 3: Task coordination
Pharmaceutical companies may receive adverse drug reaction (ADR) reports from multiple sources. In the case when a large number is received, the coordination of the subsequent procedures can be complex. Utilizing a process automation tool can help streamline the entire operation. The information is automatically captured and categorized, the relevant departments and people are informed, and the relevant applicable workflows are initiated. This ensures compliance with regulations and supports faster decision-making.
Tactic 4: Meet service level agreements (SLAs)
Effectively managing the high level of inquiries, complaints, and other service requests is essential for pharmacos to maintain a good relationship with their stakeholders. But it can be made unnecessarily difficult when these communications are received in multiple ways, such as email and phone, resulting in missed, delayed, or inconsistent responses. A ticket and case management solution is a much more efficient communication method, allowing you greater transparency as you can monitor requests and track response times.
Tactic 5: Invoice processing
A significant number of invoices are processed by pharmaceutical companies, but procedures are often outdated and cumbersome. Many finance departments in these organizations are still processing them manually, which takes employees' time away from other important responsibilities. Utilizing an invoice management solution saves time, ensures greater accuracy, and can help optimize your financial resources.
Tactic 6: Integrating new technology and legacy systems
Ancient legacy systems are still widespread within the pharma industry. Reliance upon these systems, which are usually not industry-specific, causes significant operational challenges. New technologies have emerged in recent years that are transforming the operational capabilities of pharmaceutical companies. However, compatibility can be a big issue, so make sure you choose a technology-agnostic solution that can integrate with your current systems.
Tactic 7: Intelligent automation
Automating repetitive and rule-based tasks can be a huge time-saver for pharmacos. However, doing so does come with a risk. Bot technologies do not have human judgment and may not handle exceptions effectively. This is a factor you should consider when selecting the tech you want to automate your processes, alongside other concerns such as multi-vendor incompatibility, poor work hand-offs, and lack of scalability. Thankfully, these issues can be mitigated by maintaining human involvement - making a process automation platform (one that always keeps a human worker in the loop) the ideal solution.
Pharma orchestration solutions:
Transform Pharma operations with Enate
Enate lets you manage end-to-end pharma workflows, so you can prioritize, track the progress of tasks and work more efficiently. Our end-to-end platform also helps you identify automation opportunities and streamline your operations by assigning the right work to the right individual or bot.
Operational Soup is a term we use when work is being carried out, but businesses have little idea how much, by whom or exactly how it is processed.
Start orchestration in departments with strong use-cases to deliver value quickly. Often, good examples can be found in back/middle office process areas that have high variation and complexity such as finance or HR operations. Recent intelligence sourced through process mining suggests 80%+ of the work performed in a shared services organization is not performed in the ERP systems, but rather in Excel or Outlook. This is where Orchestration thrives.
Having orchestration implemented across our departments can be likened to having x-ray vision into your operations.
Global Head of Operations at TMF
Almost half of banking and investment CIOs (49%) and insurance CIOs (44%) indicated that they will increase their automation investments in 2021.
Source: Gartner, 2021