While many pharmaceutical companies have been slow to implement new technologies historically, that has changed dramatically. Pharma consulting firms can help companies in the pharmaceutical industry by providing expertise and advice on a range of topics, including new technologies. As hardware solutions have increasingly made more computing power available to the industry, large pharmaceutical companies must compete with fast-growing biotechnology startups that leverage computational power to offer innovative solutions to clients and patients. As a result, the industry has become forced into a disruptive digital transformation that shakes up how virtually every aspect of the pharmaceutical sector functions.
Everything from the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals to the medical supply chain, to doctors’ offices, to hospitals, to regulatory compliance substantially impacts increasing access to computing power and digital technologies. As a result, large pharmaceutical companies have had to work hard to limit waste and bloat while adapting to this rapidly changing digital landscape.
As new technologies are developed and coming to market, it seems inevitable that the next pharmaceutical digital revolution is upon us in the form of pharma cloud computing and cloud storage systems. However, many people still don’t fully understand what pharma cloud computing is or its implications for the industry. So let’s explore some of these game-changing implications, remarkably how cloud computing improves patient outcomes for pharmaceutical companies.
The Role of Cloud Computing in Digital Transformation
Historically, paper records store medical, compliance, and patient information. As a result, pharmaceutical companies, doctor’s offices, and hospitals maintained complex filing systems where paper documents were stored and organized. However, this traditional form of data management was very labor-intensive. In addition, it required a significant amount of administrative work to maintain.
As hardware and computing systems were developed and made commercially available, pharmaceutical companies entered the first wave of digitization. As a result, these paper records migrated to electronic filing systems. Existing paper documents could be scanned and stored on internal hard drives, making them easier to organize, secure, and access. While this shift did represent a significant innovation in pharmaceutical data management, it required companies to hire IT professionals and buy expensive IT infrastructure that quickly became outdated.
The high costs of retaining large, in-house IT teams and continually upgrading IT infrastructure is what led to the popularization of cloud computing for pharmaceutical companies. Large tech companies began offering cloud computing solutions such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Cloud. Cloud computing allowed pharmaceutical companies to rent IT infrastructure from Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) companies rather than buying and continuously upgrading their infrastructure.
Working with a cloud service provider also allows companies to harness the technical talent of large tech companies to secure, manage, and analyze pharmaceutical data. It is, therefore, no surprise that increasing numbers of pharmaceutical companies are using cloud computing to house data from clinical trials, drug safety testing, and patient information. As a result, cloud computing has streamlined pharmaceutical companies’ compliance, drug development, and go-to-market procedures.
Benefits of Cloud Computing for Pharmaceutical Companies
Cloud computing offers several significant advantages to pharmaceutical companies. First and foremost, storing data on rented IT infrastructure connected to the internet is dramatically easier to share data. As a result, securely transfer pharmaceutical data over the internet to internal or external parties.
In contrast, this is distinct from companies that store data on their internal hard drives rather than using cloud storage solutions. These companies must retain personnel who can upload data to the internet when transferring data online. This more traditional approach presents cybersecurity risks once uploading data over a secure network. It also requires pharmaceutical companies to retain IT, professionals to manage their in-house infrastructure.
Data stored in facilities owned by cloud storage devices are constantly available online by multiple devices. As a result, rather than uploading large amounts of data and transferring it over the internet, companies can provide access to different devices that allow them to access that data. It’s no wonder that the cloud has become the new normal for many pharmaceutical companies.
The Benefits of Pharmaceutical Cloud Computing for Patients
Not only can third-party cloud storage providers store data securely in an easily shareable way, but they can also provide data analysis services that leverage the power of machine learning. Therefore, use complex software to identify patterns in data that yield essential insights for pharmaceutical companies.
Some of the cloud data stored are available to patients directly, which has led to an upswing in what is known as patient self-management. In this sense, the cloud allows data to offer patients a more personalized customer service experience.
Moreover, the role of cloud computing in storing data collected in clinical trials can streamline the R&D and regulatory processes to make treatments and medicines available to patients more quickly. In addition, regulators can often access data stored in the cloud more efficiently due to the shareability advantages that cloud computing offers.
One of the biggest priorities for pharmaceutical companies when it comes to helping patients is ensuring the reliability of pharmaceutical supply chains. These supply chains allow products from manufacturers to healthcare facilities and patients, which has become a priority for pharmaceutical companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, lapses in supply chain safety can result in damaged or unstable pharmaceutical products that put patients at risk.
Supply chain challenges take on another layer of complexity when considering that numerous pharmaceutical products must store at specific temperatures to remain effective. According to Dickson, deviations in pharmacy room temperature ranges from acceptable ranges can result in millions of dollars of recalled products. Creating and maintaining temperature-controlled supply chains is known as cold chain storage management.
Given how crucial cold chain storage is for patient safety, it makes sense that regulators carefully monitor the storage facilities where storing medical products. As a result, pharmaceutical companies use various tools and technologies to create reliable cold chain storage systems and report those storage conditions to regulators.
In particular, pharmaceutical companies use small electronic devices called data loggers that measure and record temperatures within storage facilities. Cloud computing systems may store, analyze, and submit this data to regulators. As a result, it presents some of the same shareability and security benefits compared to keeping the information on the data logger’s internal memory or in-house IT infrastructure.
To wrap up, it’s clear that cloud computing improves patient outcomes for pharmaceutical companies by streamlining drug development, offering greater data accessibility, and creating secure cold chain storage systems.