“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity,” Winston Churchill said. “The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created learning opportunities for companies and industries. It’s been a catalyst for digital transformation, as organizations have been forced to find new ways to manage and safeguard critical processes while at the same time taking measures to minimize future disruptions and to facilitate remote work.
Companies across most industries are rapidly pursuing digital transformation, artificial intelligence (AI), and automation to manage and safeguard critical processes.
One area that’s especially been impacted is life sciences, where bottlenecks and other drawbacks of old processes have been exposed and alternative ways of working have taken off. AI and intelligent automation have been implemented to help move science faster than ever, from mapping genomes to ordering medical supplies.
For example, between March and August 2020, Informa observed a rapid surge in the number of drugs in development, from 50 to 528, and in the number of clinical trials, from 271 to 2,788. That accelerated speed would not be possible without the help of technology. Intelligent automation brings greater human capacity to organizations to effectively manage and quickly respond to global challenges. Automation makes it possible to sustain and create a new baseline for approving much-needed therapeutics, drugs, vaccines, gene therapies, and better health.
Intelligent automation in life sciences empowers active collaboration, providing real-time analysis and AI-driven decision-making, data gathering and sharing, scaling of organizational capabilities, support for smart supply chains to meet the current crisis, and faster vaccine development to meet future recurrences. As evidence, government, life sciences, and healthcare are working together to rapidly solve the global health problem of COVID-19. Embracing AI and automation not only helps organizations in all of these industries cope with disruption, but it also prepares them for business continuity in the future.
Automation can improve critical processes and workflows. More specifically, it can:
Companies are planning for the post-pandemic business world and learning how to leverage automation to minimize future disruptions and to facilitate remote work.
Embracing digital transformation enables organizations to adapt more readily to a remote workforce and digital events, taking the best of human and digital capabilities. It also automates access to real-time data, a necessity in a rapidly changing landscape. Adopting automation for repetitive tasks reserves human brainpower for high-value work, which also enhances business agility.
The convergence of human and digital expertise positions the life sciences industry to increase patient engagement, create new revenue through digital therapeutics, drive medication adherence using smartphone apps, embrace augmented and virtual reality for drug and device demonstrations, and optimize supply chains.
That last point is especially significant in light of COVID-19, which led to medicine shortages in 77% of UK pharmacies, according to Chemist+Druggist. Optimizing supply chains will ensure medical supplies, raw materials, and key drugs are readily available when needed.
Companies will use automation to extract data from internal and external sources to increase visibility into supply chain risks and to enable supply chain predictive analytics.
How can we facilitate a revolutionary transformation of the life sciences industry in a safe way? The key lies in empowering active collaboration through the use of AI and intelligent automation, enabling AI to provide better answers and less bias.
Things change daily, so real-time data is needed. Additionally, we need to be able to scale organizational capabilities, support smart supply chains, and enable quicker discovery. We must be more digitally adept and agile.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables will gain importance as the need grows for doctors to perform remote monitoring of patients at home. We’ll also see more integration with healthcare professionals. And, we can expect a rise in virtual trials as we rapidly seek to find a vaccine and therapies.
Intelligent automation is delivering outcomes for all organizations across industries. The biggest is a faster time to implementation. With Automation Anywhere customers, we have seen a significant increase in accuracy, cycle times, and productivity typically in just a few months. In the life sciences industry alone, intelligent automation has resulted in up to a 90% improvement in cycle time.
How does intelligent automation work? A software bot runs processes for you, allowing you to manage today while optimizing for tomorrow. Intelligent automation works with legacy systems and adapts as things change throughout the pandemic.
One example is the new drug applications (NDA) submission process. Before any new drug can be put to use to save lives, it must go through an extensive regulatory documentation and approval process. Intelligent automation can greatly streamline that process. In fact, one major pharmaceutical company cut four months off this process by implementing automation.
A bot navigates and extracts needed information from Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. The bot also pulls data from lab tests and research centers. It then compiles the data and enters it into a form. After that, the bot verifies the format and font before finalizing the document.
Another example is integrating intelligent automation with AI to support clinical trials. A bot scans information for medical data. Then, the bot segments personal information into a secure private store and deposits nonprivate information into a data store for functional review.
AI scans the nonprivate information for facts. Any questionable content is referred to the human in the loop. Machine learning fast-tracks discovery so that only information that needs to be reviewed by a human is, optimizing the clinical trial discovery phase.
The combination of AI and intelligent automation is key to supporting the life sciences industry to meet global challenges. This solution creates better decisions and provides real-time analysis, resulting in faster vaccine and drug findings, accelerated clinical trials, mitigated bottlenecks, optimized supply chains, and stable business continuity.
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Catherine Calarco, senior director of industry strategy and marketing for life sciences, has more than 20 years of global leadership in life sciences, digital medicine, and technology. She's known for driving significant B2C/B2B revenue growth and developing innovative, award-winning digital health and technology products.