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Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Volume 23, Issue 3

Bright future for Pharma 3.0

With the future of healthcare revolving more and more around patient empowerment, data and healthy outcomes, the big question is can the traditionally slow and reserved pharma industry keep up with the new era?

So far, it's not looking too bad. According to Ernst & Young's Progressions: Building Pharma 3.0 report, pharma has accepted that it must do more than simply develop and manufacture products. In 2010 alone, pharma's investment in smart phone apps, educational websites, social media platforms, wireless devices and other programmes increased by 78%.

This new era — referred to as Pharma 3.0 by many — will also be characterised by the entry of non-traditional players, such as IT providers and retailers. Investments made by these new entities are far outpacing those made by pharma, creating the challenge to get a move on or risk being left behind!

"New entrants to the healthcare industry are clearly committing much more to business model innovation than pharma companies," said Carolyn Buck Luce, Global Pharmaceutical Leader at Ernst & Young, in a press statement. "The companies that succeed in this new healthcare ecosystem will do so by developing innovative outcomes-focused offerings through structured, systematic and scalable approaches to business model innovation. Just as importantly, pharma companies should demonstrate to new players in the healthcare space why the unique insights they can provide related to patient outcomes will make them indispensable partners."

But at least pharma has made a good start. Many of the investments made so far have been in the area of mobile health technology, with one in every two initiatives in 2010 targetting this area. According to Ernst & Young, mobiledriven health (m-health) is set to outstrip the internet as a healthcare communications platform, particularly in light of the fact that mobile phone ownership outpaces internet access. The advent of smart phones as an alternative to a networked computer and their ability to run apps has proven popular with pharma companies. Previously focused on diabetes management tools, new apps are emerging in many other disease areas, ranging from tools that help patients and consumers to track vaccination schedules, or that manage haemophilia treatment, to apps that can find cancer clinical trials within 150 miles of a certain location.

Changing business models

It's not just in new technologies where pharma is making progress either; companies are also changing their business models to improve patient outcomes using more holistic approaches, including disease management, coordinated care and expansion across different stages of care. A number of pharma companies are already partnering with technology and ehealth firms that enable patients to manage their health more effectively and share their personal data with healthcare professionals more safely. According to Ernst & Young, the pharma companies that will be successful in the new era will be those that can establish strategic partnerships and collaborations that focus on patient outcomes and consumer experience.

"Success in Pharma 3.0 will require diverse capabilities — from the ability to mine insights from vast pools of dissimilar health data, to rural distribution networks in emerging markets and wireless communication platforms," Patrick Flochel, EMEIA Life Sciences Leader at Ernst & Young explained. "No single company has everything that it will take. And in today's resource-strapped business climate, companies will benefit by leveraging investments that other companies have already made, rather than reinventing every wheel."

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