Maven Wave recently attended and sponsored the 15th annual Bio-IT World Conference in Boston. The conference brought together over 3,400 attendees from across the world to share best practices, innovation initiatives, and digital journeys within the pharmaceutical industry.
This year, Bio-IT World focused on topics such as cloud computing, data integration, knowledge management, and informatics— the essential components to building a digital environment. A key theme surrounding this conference was that digital technology is a differentiator within the enterprise, not just a necessity to support business strategy. While the progression toward digital initiatives have historically been slow within the pharmaceutical industry, organizations taking advantage of digital will continue to have a competitive advantage.
Cloud Computing is Mainstream
The cloud computing track highlighted the ability to leverage the cloud to resolve complex technical challenges faced by the pharmaceutical industry, while also streamlining IT operations. One of the most intriguing presentations in the cloud computing track discussed how Alexion Pharmaceuticals moved their on-premise corporate data center to the cloud within 12 months. With the adoption of cloud, Alexion Pharmaceuticals was able to innovate and begin data integration on a large scale in the cloud.
Based on our conversations at Bio-IT, the majority of pharma companies were leveraging the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) as their cloud provider. However, we noticed Google Cloud Platform created the most excitement for attendees, due to Google’s advanced capabilities in the cloud space. During Google’s “Innovations in Large Scale Life Sciences” and “Innovative Practices in the Cloud” presentations, Google discussed their significant strengths in the cloud business that enable pharma companies to develop innovative ideas on top of their cloud technology. The industry is no longer questioning the security concerns surrounding cloud, rather questioning what cloud provider(s) best fit their needs.
Data Sharing and Integration Can Unlock Industry Value
Not surprisingly, understanding how to leverage siloed internal data and the value of external data sources were top of mind topics for pharma companies. Collecting and analyzing data in pharmaceutics allows organizations to run advanced data analytics techniques (such as machine learning) to improve their business strategy. However, most pharma companies do not have access to this data or the necessary tools to perform these analyzations, due to a lack of cloud technology. Below are three examples from the conference of how data can unlock incredible value for pharma companies.
Real-World Evidence: The Digital Transformation Workshop provided use cases and technology for real world evidence. Real-world evidence is the process of monitoring health outcomes in an uncontrolled environment to understand true health outcomes when patients do not have as much structure and oversight of a controlled environment, such as a clinical trial. This process integrates data from clinical trials, EHR adverse event databases, payer databases, wearables, and even social media to determine treatment effectiveness. The full implementation of real world evidence solutions will have far reaching impacts on the drug development life cycle, drug reimbursement, and marketing in the future— but the current focus in real-world evidence is on identifying and integrating the right data.
Lab Informatics: Lab equipment produces high volumes of valuable data and historically, it has always required a lot of effort to cleanse, combine, share, and analyze the data to draw conclusions. The Allotrope Foundation, a research-intensive company, is developing a technology to eliminate data cleansing from this process, allowing scientists to focus their time on data analysis. The Allotrope Foundation has defined standard data formats, ontologies, and data models, all supported by an API for consistent file creation. Currently, many large pharma companies are exploring the foundation of the beginning stages of this framework.
FAIR Data Standards: Bio-IT world hosted its first Hackathon focused on FAIR data standards. FAIR Data principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable) are a set of guiding principles that emphasis the ability of both individuals and machines to find and use data. FAIR data standard will enable easier sharing of information within and across institutions supporting more efficient use of data for analysis.
The implementation of data standards including FAIR, Allotrope, and next-gen analytics have the potential to help unlock more value from distributed data sets for the pharma industry.
Knowledge Management Continues To Be An Important Topic
Storing, cataloging, and sharing knowledge is important for most industries, but the length of the drug development life cycle and the amount of knowledge and data generated throughout the process makes this an ongoing challenge for the pharmaceutical field. At Bio-IT, two presentations really highlighted the need for collaborative tools (“A Connected Enterprise of Ideas, Projects, People andMedicine” and “The Ethos Collective Productivity Suite: Our Journey Towards Knowledge Worker Nirvana”). Through knowledge sharing, organizations have the ability to resolve leading pain points and create innovative solutions.
Derek Debe (Principal Scientist at AbbVie), one of Maven Wave’s key stakeholders, attended and spoke about knowledge management at Bio-IT World. Debe gave a presentation on the Ethos Application Suite- an innovative application Maven Wave built for AbbVie, utilizing agile methodologies. The Ethos Suite is a set of knowledgement and collaboration applications that was built for use across AbbVie. The applications have over 1,300 users at AbbVie and the first application, Knowledge Notebook, won the AbbVie President’s Award in 2015. These applications have made knowledge sharing and collaboration more efficient for it’s user base.
Analytics and Informatics are Evolving
With seven tracks dedicated to data analytics (Bioinformatics, Next-Gen Sequencing Informatics, Clinical Research & Translational Informatics, Data Visualization & Exploration Tools, Pharmaceutical R&D Informatics, Clinical Genomics, and Cancer Informatics), it’s clear to see the importance in analytical methodologies, data integration, and knowledge management. While most companies have a collection of analytical data, it is only valuable if the correct underlying data is being compiled. Most advanced analytical techniques (i.e. Machine Learning) are applied to siloed data, but the next challenge is applying these techniques to more diverse data sets that allow for more advanced data insights.
Technology is the Future of Pharma
The intersection of cloud computing, data integration, knowledge management, and analytics will be critical for unlocking business value for pharma companies in the digital age. However, while technology can enable new opportunities, a deep understanding of the patient journey and interactions between all stakeholders in the ecosystem is a key component to success.
Maven Wave offers technology solutions and services to help pharma companies advance digitally and exceed the expectations of both customers and employees. Contact us for more information.