Orlando Agrippa, founder and CEO of healthcare analytics company Draper & Dash writes about how data can be used by pharma companies to demonstrate value.

Healthcare constitutes the world’s largest financial spend, so when it’s not operating as efficiently and effectively as possible, its transformation is vital.

Patients are at the heart of the healthcare system, of course, but another key consideration is the drugs which are used within it. Almost half of all hospital budgets were spent on medicine in 2018, and the proportion is growing steadily.

Focus on Outcomes

With pharma forming such a large proportion of overall budgets, and healthcare systems facing scrutiny as they become more outcome based, it’s increasingly important for pharma companies to demonstrate value.

This urgent need is compounded by the challenges the industry must now respond to in delivering on expected outcomes in the real world. The cost of medicines must be increasingly justified by delivering a clear worth and value. And this applies not purely in isolation, but as part of a coherent state-of-the-art treatment pathway adapted for real-world clinical settings. The heightened demand for value for money in pharma has also been catalysed by other factors, including recent US legislation around drug price transparency.

There are several paths to ensuring medicinal spend is optimised for the healthcare system to fully benefit patients, hospitals, healthcare professionals and society itself.

A Technology Solution

Technology now enables us to access, analyse and deliver on vast pools of data. This provides an effective tool for pharma to validate its efforts and demonstrate value at each end of the medicine life cycle. AI is the most obvious example of how tech can free up physicians’ time by helping them to understand the efficacy of certain medications and predict when medications aren’t taken correctly.

Technologies including AI can help to optimise drug usage to avoid wastage and data can also allow healthcare professionals to take a highly proactive approach. Being able to identify trends and track patient outcomes, means technology can now ensure that the most effective medicines are administered in the optimum quantities.

Tech solutions also hold huge potential for collaboration around medicine optimisation, and this is particularly the case for NHS operations in the UK. Here the digital revolution has created many opportunities to use data and analytical capabilities to optimise medicines in collaboration with pharma companies. This holds the potential to create significant efficiencies and cost savings, while improving outcomes for patients and making health more equitable, secure and sustainable.

But to achieve this, decision makers must now ensure that they invest in the right systems and solutions, and that those that are put in place are correctly aligned. Once they are, healthcare organisations will find it far easier to ensure that medicine is being adequately optimised.

This involves collating and using as much information as possible to confirm which drugs are most effective. As a real world example, it’s widely known that half of patients don’t take their medications properly, which wastes money and medication while being potentially damaging to the patient’s own health.

Those with a clear view of which drugs are not being taken correctly and the impact this might have on patients, can avoid wasting medicines, optimising their usage and containing costs. Optimising medication in this way ensures that patients are taking the drugs which are the most effective for their needs. This benefits a hospital financially by avoiding wastage, reducing costs and staff pressures and improving patient outcomes.

Embracing Digitalisation

Some industries have been more progressive than others in embracing change and seizing the opportunities arising from the digital revolution. While industries including finance have seen high levels of disruption, the healthcare industry has lagged behind. But it does now have similar scope to reap the benefits of the data revolution through knowledge sharing, data consolidation and cross system efficiencies.

For some, this will be an easier process than for othersToday’s established healthcare operations are likely to be using legacy systems holding large amounts of underutilised data with heavily siloed operations processes. To enhance patient care with tech disruption it’s not necessary to adopt an entirely ‘rip and replace’ approach, however.

Technology acquisition can be used to incrementally streamline and consolidate existing systems and information – but only once you’ve established what technology systems and processes can be abandoned towards best practice. Rather than adding additional platforms data can also be consolidated and surfaced from legacy systems.

While considering what technologies should be adopted and which should be abandoned, established healthcare operations also need to take a proactive approach to best practice. Rather than just improving what’s already in place, they need to consider the future objectives and requirements for medicine, and the technology and data capabilities that can support these.

Data is central to the tech’s ability to enhance patient care. If patient data is stored on a centralised platform, treatment can be delivered faster and with the benefit of comprehensive information about a patient’s medical history, conditions and medication needs. In many current healthcare infrastructures, data is often blocked between systems on an internal and geographic level, which causes unnecessary inefficiencies.

Future Proofing

Focusing on which drugs are most effective is vital to enhancing patient care and hospital operations. In doing so, patient experiences can be improved dramatically, as insight into which medicines work best for them allows their care to be optimised and delivered as quickly and effectively as possible.

An enhanced level of information also helps healthcare organisations to use their resources as cost effectively as possible, while using medicine to manage and predict patient outputs and flow.  Today’s healthcare faces increasing pressure and scrutiny. But, there’s also huge opportunity to learn from other disruptive industries with an open mind – to provide the best possible care for patients, both now and in decades to come.