What is the biggest contribution to mankind, from technology – besides speed and accuracy? The biggest contribution today is ” Data”, and the subsequent value lies in driving analytics and churning insights across a range of use-cases, e.g. revenue improving bottom-line. Any leader in the Indian Pharma industry in India is currently at an interesting stage of transition from “traditional” to “new-age”, in order to address a series of challenges, for e.g., price capping, diminishing sales productivity, expiring patents, limited coverage given the country’s fragmentation, and importantly, need to keep pace with the rapid technology adoption by the entire ecosystem. Given the current stage and challenges, there is a clear upside available – by leveraging data and analytics.
While the industry is increasingly adopting measures to leverage data analytics to address the underlying challenges, several limiting factors need to be addressed to achieve the full-potential of data analytics for the pharma industry –
Challenge 1: Inconsistent Data Sources
Given that a lot of data in India still moves on paper, the breadth of data availability is limited. Pharma industry still relies on the traditional data streams, i.e. internal sales, operations, and external data from sales audit and prescription audit companies. Detailed clinical datasets on patient journeys and patient funnels are seldom available.
Logistics data w.r.t. movement of drugs from manufacturing unit to the retailer is also restricted.Further, different business units within a pharma company still continue to operate in silos creating fragmented data within one organization. That said, several new-age healthcare technology and data analytics organizations are now starting to create standardized and universal data foundations,that are being leveraged to generate clinical and commercial insights for pharma companies.
Challenge 2: Ambiguity in Transition
The Indian healthcare ecosystem is still evolving where adoption of technology is slow and restricted. With government initiated schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, Digital India etcetera, and the availability of new-age / affordable health tech systems like practice management, HIS / LIS, EMR this limitation is being addressed and helping build a better future. While the point of departure is still weak, over the next five years, there will be significant amount of growth given the adoption of technology and the generation of new data streams for analytics.
Given the rapid implementation of technology systems, and newer healthcare programs, there is an
inherent ambiguity on the actual adoption and success of these systems, and the implied quality and
accuracy of data.The time will tell.
Challenge 3: The typical question on ‘Return on Investment’!
Indian pharma companies have witnessed the real RoI of advanced data analytics and continue to
be sceptical of the value it will generate. As a result, the price points are still exploratory, limiting the
evolution of analytics offerings. Unlike the global pharma industry, where companies have established the need and value of sales force effectiveness and optimization, pharma businesses in India are still exploring, and therefore piloting.
That said, there are several pharma companies (especially those with global touch points) which
have realised this potential and are serious about the opportunity in pharma analytics. Many have
established dedicated analytics and innovation teams, to drive data analytics in India.
Challenge 4: The problem of fragmentation, and unstructured data Fragmentation of the country plays a huge role in the unavailability of relevant data streams of the ecosystem that pharma businesses operate in. As a simple example – there is no clear visibility on the number of authentic practicing doctors in India.
While MCI (Medical Council of India) registrations may highlight certain numbers, many of the doctors may not be operating in India, or are not even around, anymore. And the data that may be available on public sources,continues to exist with limited metrics, and is often unstructured to enable seamless and meaningful use. While the technology is fast evolving to structure the unstructured data streams, the underlying sources of data will have to collaborate to make this scalable across the breadth and depth of this country – not only in metros but rural areas too.
Challenge 5: Talent Crisis
Today, there is more demand for quality analytical resources (across industries) than the supply. Fintech, Retail, Telecom, Media, etc. are industries that are progressive on analytics and attract good resources as well as higher compensations. However, the Pharma industry still continues to be laggard on the analytics front, and is unable to attract the best of skilled manpower and talent.
It’s an interesting phase of evolution for pharma analytics in India, and the next five years will generate incredible value across the entire value chain – right from adoption of technology to creation of new data streams to creating analytical models and establishing the value of data analytics. The early adopters will have an added advantage of riding the steep learning curve that this industry is going to go through in the coming years.