The Big Data Influence In The Pharmaceutical Industry

Paul Clark

Technology is disrupting the healthcare industry just like many other sectors these days, but one particular aspect of healthcare is benefiting from some high-tech side effects.

Pharmaceutical companies have an enticing opportunity to gain a competitive advantage with technology, according to the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare. More specifically, it’s the Big Data generated by the huge number of digital sensors connected to the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT) that’s drawing the attention of pharmaceutical firms.

Why do pharmaceutical companies care about Big Data?

While some health organizations are still working out how to derive value from Big Data, many pharmaceutical companies have been quick to spot the tremendous potential of this information and are moving quickly to capitalize on the opportunities it presents.

Patient data is extremely valuable to drug companies. Why? Because analytics technology can be used to explore Big Data to reveal connections and patterns that enable the development of precision medication. Developing drugs suited to targeted populations requires the collection of vast amounts of data from a wide range of sources, including DNA tests, clinical trials, and patient health records, to name but a few. Personalized medicine has caused an explosion in the amount of data that pharmaceutical companies must analyze across multiple formats, so if researchers and healthcare providers can share their data in collaborative projects, pharmaceutical companies can bring drugs to market faster.

Collaboration is key, but it’s no quick fix

New partnerships are emerging that challenge traditional healthcare models and focus on the benefits of Big Data, such as partnerships between medical device and technology companies collaborating with pharmaceutical firms. Some of these show potential, and collaborative projects are ideal in theory, but they don’t always work as planned. In reality, it can often be challenging to gather data from various sources of medical information, including some longstanding paper-based systems. A further challenge is secrecy, as healthcare providers are often not comfortable sharing patient data.

However, according to the SAP Connected Care eBook, the pharmaceutical industry is striving to deal with these challenges and embrace Big Data technology because:

  • Big Data analytics solutions can process huge data sets in a very short time and conduct data mining intelligently.
  • In-memory computing creates additional opportunities as different data formats, including unstructured text from various sources, can be consolidated quickly and easily.

Moving beyond medicine

Some pharmaceutical companies are choosing not to collaborate with other healthcare providers, and opting instead to move beyond medicine and target consumers directly. Some are attempting to improve customer service – and accumulate their own Big Data as a beneficial side effect – by developing apps with personalized treatment solutions that include monitoring and lifestyle advice. As a result, there are now countless consumer apps for chronic health conditions.

Whether they collaborate or choose to go it alone, pharmaceutical companies can use digital technology to their advantage. By validating the quality of Big Data to extract valuable information, they will be able to uncover and exploit potential research and development projects, giving them a significant competitive advantage.

Learn other ways that technology is changing the future of healthcare in the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare.

See how the digital era is affecting the business environment in the SAP eBook, The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.

Discover the driving forces behind digital transformation in the SAP eBook, Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.


About Paul Clark

Paul Clark is the Senior Director of Technology Partner Marketing at SAP. He is responsible for developing and executing partner marketing strategies, activities, and programs in joint go-to-market plans with global technology partners. The goal is to increase opportunities, pipeline, and revenue through demand generation via SAP's global and local partner ecosystems.