medication in bottle

The healthcare sector is uniquely placed to benefit from digital transformation.

Superior processing power and advanced software lets medical organisations run bespoke, granular experiments. Advanced cloud-hosted software provides the foundations for ground-breaking medical research and healthcare advances.

Yet the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors have generally been slow to exploit new software. Many firms are still happy to rely on 20th century processes and modelling. To find out why, MATS recently sponsored two interviews with senior pharma staff. These digital transformation champions discuss how software can help – and why progress remains slow…

New technologies for new treatments

Our first interview was with Michael Schrader, a former Google executive. He’s now the co-founder and CEO of life sciences company Vaxess Technologies. Vaxess is pioneering new technologies to produce thermostable vaccines and diagnostic products.

Vaxess leverage AI platforms to trawl through data sets, looking for trends or correlations. This could slash the timeline for developing new drugs. Michael says it might shorten the process from 10-20 years down to 3-5. That would hasten treatments for new or evolving conditions like the Zika virus. Yet progress remains slow. Companies may struggle to justify development costs of 10 or 15-year projects. Michael suggests grants and Government support should subsidise early development stages. Once they’re underway, private firms are more likely to take over and complete projects.

Quantum computing is another area where Michael sees huge potential. He highlights a recent GSK vaccine platform, studying a new virus. The technology took a genetic sequence and proposed a functioning vaccine in eight days. The processing power of quantum computing could also bring other benefits, too. It might enable home diagnostic tests to replace GPs, sourcing results through the cloud. Detailed computer modelling may even begin to supplant clinical trials.

Read Michael Schrader’s interview in full.

Challenging standards with digital transformation

Our second interviewee was Usama Malik, the Chief Business Officer at Immunomedics. This firm is developing antibody based therapies for life threatening conditions like cancer. It uses digital technologies to accelerate and focus research, while rival firms retain traditional models. Usama believes many pharma firms regard digital technology as a bolt-on, or an afterthought. They don’t realise it needs embedding into a company’s ethos to thrive.

Like Vaxess, Immunomedics sees huge scope in virtual trials using tools and solutions. Usama says software deployment offers a way for us all to understand health issues. Yet existing research is often siloed, limited and even disregarded. Usama believes the medical sector isn’t accepting its own research. In response, he cites five factors that’d ensure digital innovation delivers a higher ROI. These range from board level governance to the development of digital innovation ecosystems.

Immunomedics treats late stage cancers with antibody therapies. Their innovative therapy R&D is supported through the adoption of digital technologies. Usama is proud of his company’s obsession with data, data science and future insights. Everything from AI and machine learning to robotics and the blockchain play their part. Indeed, Usama says digital technology will change trials, manufacturing, distribution, diagnosis and treatment. Agile, disruptive technology should transform the healthcare sector for the better in the future.

Usama Malik’s interview is available to view online.

What is the uptake of change in your organisation? Are you battling with insufficient processing power and outdated software? Taking a lead from Vaxess and Immunomedics, you could accelerate growth and innovate processes.

Read our Sector Focus sheet to discover how we’re helping other pharmaceuticals and healthcare businesses with Low-code and get in touch.