By Bhaskar Sambasivan, SVP and global markets leader, Cognizant Life Sciences
Many parents can tell a story about the lengths they’ve gone to help their children when no doctor could provide an answer. But there’s one story that stands out to me above the rest because it really drives home the vital need for data sharing, digital collaboration, and the establishment of a connected health ecosystem in the life sciences industry.
Essentially, it’s the story of a family whose twin teenagers lead active lives today only because their parents worked tirelessly from their birth to understand the cause of their life-threatening ailments. In the end, the data did not come from medical specialists — despite countless tests and trips to the ER. The life-saving information came, in one instance, from a newspaper article they happened to stumble upon and, in another, from DNA testing that the parents themselves decided to undertake.
Their story, while inspiring, makes me wonder: Why should individuals with no background in medical research need to become pioneers on the data frontier to get the right healthcare treatment?
PERSONALIZING THE CARE CONNECTION
For the father in this story, who now works as a CIO at a life sciences organization, the mission of his industry is now a very personal matter, given his own struggles to obtain an accurate diagnosis for his kids. But it shouldn’t take an experience like this to get life science leaders to embrace the industry’s true value — beyond just producing pills — and how their organizations can better connect to consumers’ lives.
- First and foremost, let’s start focusing on the data. In the story above, it was readily available data — a newspaper article — that led to an accurate diagnosis. In an age when powerful AI-driven systems can churn through medical journals, expert findings, and other cutting-edge data in seconds, it may soon be considered medical malpractice not to use AI technologies to get to the real facts underlying patients’ ailments. We are surrounded by constantly refreshed data and advanced ways to process that data — it will be hugely beneficial for life sciences organizations to harness this data in ways that benefit patients.
- Accelerate the pace of ecosystem collaboration. To unlock the value of data, new interplays are needed among the life sciences ecosystem — researchers, scientists, regulators, payers, healthcare providers, and patients — to more effectively mine and apply meaning from the new data flows to optimize processes long overdue for a digital refresh. Diagnostic, analyzable data rich with meaning is driving a connected future for healthcare, and life sciences companies have an important role to play as orchestrators of value. Platforms are set to grow around specific R&D processes and patient or clinician needs, providing mechanisms for open data exchange and intercompany innovation across the value chain. These platforms for innovation enable companies to connect, experiment, and collaborate to improve health outcomes.
- Elevate the role of technology to executive levels in the organization. Digital technologies can no longer take a backseat for life sciences organizations. From smart medical devices and intelligent pill bottles, to wearable bio-sensors and digestible microchips — digital is supercharging innovation and opportunity across the industry. In our recent research, life science professionals realize this, with 84 percent citing Big Data/analytics as critical talent capabilities for 2020. It’s time for organizations to stop seeing IT as a cost center and as a strategy driver.
It’s clear that the industry is shifting its focus to delivering care, not drugs. It’s now time to inject the work of life sciences with a personal motivation to harness data and digital approaches to driving the best care for patients.