Satyakam Mohanty

As the pharmaceutical sector becomes increasingly democratized, patients are emerging as key decision makers. Digitally enabled by the entry of non-traditional tech companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google, they are pushing the sector to move beyond the pill and provide personalized care.  Here are some ways in which pharma companies are applying AI and IoT to build digital convergence across the pharmaceutical value chain.

Real-time listening and monitoring

Majority of the users today use the internet regularly to research health-related topics. However, in addition to finding information, they like to discuss different medications and treatments, as well as giving and receiving advice in online forums and social media platforms. Nearly 90 % of older adults have used social media to seek and share health information. These discussions on social media can provide unprecedented insights about what patients genuinely think about treatments. Using AI for real-time social listening, pharma companies can now identify areas of unmet need and adapt processes to address them. Say, for example, if a patient is suffering from Crohn’s disease but is unhappy with the current formulation of their medication—specifically how it interacts with medication being taken for their hyperthyroidism.  AI listening can identify that this patient suffers from two separate conditions and is unhappy with their current formulation. Based on this information the system can be programmed to reach out to the patient with advice about contacting their doctor about a different formulation or treatment, pointing to a centralized resource. This same methodology can be used to gather data more generally in order to gauge patient satisfaction, issues around a condition, and the market. This can in turn help inform marketing and R&D.

On-demand virtual care and digital assistants

Adoption of virtual care can help improve medication adherence, health outcomes tracking, and patient accountability. For example, digital assistants can monitor and follow-up with a patient between doctor appointments, thereby reducing unnecessary hospital visits and lessening the burden on medical professionals and saving the healthcare system money. Another area of application could be medical management – by using combination of sensors, study apps, bots, and virtual home care – a patient’s medication use can be monitored in real-time by AI. This is especially useful for patients in whom adherence is an issue and also for clinical trials. AI enabled digital assistants can aid in offering convenient, easy-to-access care options to patients. Over time, they can also become data repositories for a patient’s medical history, test results, consultation times, appointment schedules, and even stories from other patients who have had similar diagnoses.

AI driven content creation & management

Increasingly, pharmaceutical companies are aligning their marketing tone and messaging based on insights into how physicians and patients discuss conditions, treatments and formulations. Employing AI competencies can enable pharma companies to realize the value of micro-moment marketing, especially to physicians who have a need to balance patient care with continuous knowledge enhancement to improve treatment plans. It further aids medical reps by offering near-real-time content and thereby improves the outcome of their engagements with physicians. It also helps pharma marketers evaluate parameters that influence prescriptions and analyze the physician or patient online and offline behavior across various channels. The utilization of AI to develop content has the potential to define the contours of a long-term brand association that is needed for pharmaceutical companies to remain relevant in today’s digital age.

The empowered patient of today is also the customer who expects everything at the click of a mouse or the touch of a finger. In today’s patient centric health industry, there is a demand for better personalized treatment. This convenience at their fingertips can be offered today thanks to AI.

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