Cardinal Specialty Solutions: Pharma

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Data in the Pharmaceutical Industry - Trends

83% of pharmaceutical companies are planning on big data initiatives in ways that would not have been possible 10 years ago. One reason is accessibility to big data. For this reason, the trend in 2018 and beyond is to introduce cloud based analytics, adopt AI technology, real world evidence (RWE) and anonymous patient level data, and real-time analytics.

Please find below a dive into these trends and how these data initiatives will impact the industry.


Big data is bringing about big changes in the pharmaceutical industry. Digitization through cloud analytical systems has made it possible for professionals to analyze drugs using specified algorithms so that patients do not take needless medications. Advice databases like Ask The Doctor and Healthline also improve access to drug related information.

Pharmaceutical companies are investing in building data teams which include IT professionals because they have seen they can no longer stay silos of information. Best Practices, a consultancy that has 96% of the top 50 global healthcare companies in its clientele, conducted a study in 2016. 20% of participants said they would create big data teams in 2017. Collaboration fosters growth, saves costs, improves patient outcomes and supports precision medicine.

Data analytics systems such as late binding data lake and other systems are being created for the pharmaceutical industry to help meet the demand for accessible data. These trends will answer the demand for better ways of harvesting and using data.

The American Medical Association is working with partner organizations to build a data analytics platform for the healthcare industry. They hope to bring together fragmented data into standardized systems that will offer easier analysis for the good of the patient. Although this data initiative is physician led, their colleagues in pharmaceuticals will leverage on the abundance of data sets.

Several other government initiatives are forcing more openness and transparency into the pharmaceutical industry leading them to embrace trends which they have hitherto shunned.


1. Migrating to cloud-based analytics: In 2017, 70.1% of companies said an important part of their analytics strategy is moving to the cloud. Pharmaceuticals have been slow in adopting this strategy but the trend in 2018 is greater adoption. In the drug research sub sector, corporations are abandoning their fear of the cloud and investing in software as a service.
2. Adopting AI technology: Johnson and Johnson, Roche, Bayer and Pfizer are pioneers with their investment in robotics. But it is expected that 50% of pharmaceutical companies will tow this line between now and 2025.

3. Using real world evidence and anonymized patient level data: Stakeholders are increasingly asking for justification for funds invested in drug research. Adopting RWE will significantly reduce investments in clinical research and is a trend that pharmaceutical companies will pursue going forward.
4. Real-time analytics: Bringing a new drug into the market costs $4 billion to $11 billion. This cost can be reduced with real time analytics. Adopting this technology that will enable real time data capture can lead to 30% productivity gains in clinical trials. There are apps that enable real time monitoring of patients and methods of predicting toxicity of drugs without carrying out actual trials.


To wrap up, pharmaceutical companies are looking to jump on big data trends in the coming years. These trends will reduce cost and help companies stay within budget. Other trends are patient related. Adopting EHR systems will improve patient-health professional relationship and improve overall well-being of the patients. It is expected that over 80% of pharmaceutical companies will make decisions in favor of investing in big data in the coming years.