Pharma and healthcare innovation: ten steps forward

If one takes a long view of the history of technological innovation in business, a pattern can be perceived:

  • An innovation emerges
  • A cohort of early adopters perceive its superiority to existing solutions, identify the benefits it can bring to their business, and begin to evangelise
  • Resistance is encountered from users of the incumbent dominant technologies, assisted by those who have a vested interest in its continuation such as vendors, developers, and service providers who have built business propositions around the existing solutions
  • A break point is reached: the technology either continues to attract adopters organically until it becomes a dominant solution, or else it falters and becomes a residual technology, dwindling to the point where it is used only by ideologically committed devotees and hobbyists

The majority are now users of the dominant solution, with all its benefits, and all its flaws.

However, the restless early adopter cohort will long since have moved on to explore the possibilities of more recent innovations.

For them, evolution is not over, and innovation will never cease.

Those innovators within pharma who are forging its digital future are not distracted by the chimerical threat of adverse events, interminable discussions regarding regulations, or the comfortable futility of considering the various merits and disadvantages of this week’s new hardware or social platform.

In order to thrive within healthcare’s global future, pharma innovators understand that companies will need to:

  1. Reform corporate strategies around the principles of social business
  2. Be instrumental in precipitating the transition from treatment to prevention in healthcare
  3. Find ways to add value to the shared decision making agenda
  4. Socialise the clinical trial process
  5. Become a trusted provider of accurate, balanced information about its own products in discoverable contexts such as Wikipedia
  6. Move to, and then move beyond, mobile-first development
  7. Make sensor technologies, genomics and personalised medicine central to the future development of their enterprise
  8. Adopt open technologies
  9. Deploy secure, cloud-based solutions
  10. Support intrapreneurial activities

Hat tip to Johnathan Reid (@FarmerFunster) for reminding me how valuable and productive a concept intrapreneurialism is.

8 thoughts on “Pharma and healthcare innovation: ten steps forward

    • Hi Mat

      Thanks for dropping by, good to see you here again 🙂

      Re. #6 ‘Move to, and then move beyond, mobile-first development’

      This does need unpacking a bit, sorry. Too much shorthand.

      1) ‘Build a website!’ is very seldom (I’ll stop short of saying ‘never’) the answer to questions framed along the lines of ‘What should I be doing in order to present my message optimally online?’

      2) Conversely, mobile-first solutions (beginning with the idea of delivering/supporting your message in a context formulated with mobile in mind) are very often (not always) the answer to such questions on the basis of usage, accessibility and relevance.

      3) However, statement #6 is gesturing towards the idea that mobile alone is merely a way station for healthcare innovation, not its destination. Mobile provides a contextual, personalised conduit through which health information may be exchanged with (for example) sensors and the next generation of near-field technologies, but delivered passively, without manual intervention, and subject to the settings we allow. The data that our bodies radiate (right down to the only electronic medical record of the future that’s actually going to count, namely our genome) will be streamed, collected, and analysed by our healthcare practitioners — as anonymised big data for public health purposes, as the conversational basis of our annual health check-up in the era of preventative medicine.

      I’ve driven a narrative line through that in isolation for the purposes of illustration, but from pharma’s point of view this element is neither less nor more important than the other nine when viewed as an evolutionary agenda to drive the reform of the industry.

  1. Thanks Andrew, interesting and informative. I’m really interested in how companies can align and organise themselves better and tend to work with companies still struggling to get to grips with the present – its great to have someone constantly raising the bar, and sign-posting the direction of travel!

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