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Digital Transformation and Emerging Technology in the Healthcare Industry – 2021 Edition

The pharmaceutical industry is undergoing constant changes resulting from declining profit margins, cost pressure, and the necessity to replenish pipelines and maximize peak sales, while at the same time meeting stringent regulatory and legislative requirements. Although the adoption of innovative technologies was seen as one of the ways to ease these pressures, the COVID-19 pandemic made the digitalization of the sector even more pressing.

The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of the pharmaceutical industry, and this has impacted on businesses’ resilience, competitiveness, and growth. The digital transformation has thus taken on heightened importance and accelerated due to COVID-19. Operations enablement and innovation became the key focus of digital transformation in the healthcare industry for the first time since 2018. This was followed by business innovation and customer engagement. Enhancing operations through digital transformation helps organizations to drive new levels of operational efficiency, R&D productivity, manufacturing, and supply chain optimization.

Therefore, insufficient funding, lack of specific skills and talents, and organizational silos were seen as the most significant hindrances among the surveyed healthcare industry professionals.  The pharmaceutical industry is quickly evolving to keep up with digital transformation.

What was impact of COVID-19 on digital transformation in pharma sector?

Although the pharmaceutical sector used to display a more conservative stance towards the adoption of new technologies, COVID-19 uncovered a strong need for innovation and the adoption of digital tools. The pandemic acted as a trigger that forced the pharmaceutical sector to accelerate the digital transformation timeline and has boosted the overall industry growth.

Therefore, globally only a small percentage of surveyed healthcare industry professionals indicated that COVID-19 had no impact on speeding up the digital transformation timeline. The respondents from Asia-Pacific seemed to be particularly affected by digitalization efforts, with almost 40% of healthcare industry professionals highlighting that the digital transformation was accelerated by more than four years.

There are also many companies that have delayed the initiation of planned trials or withdrawn them completely, have suspended enrollment in ongoing trials, or have terminated these trials. Therefore, clinical trial disruptions have been found during the COVID-19 crisis that has impacted the growth of the industry.

As COVID -19 began to significantly disrupt clinical trials in early 2020, many regulatory bodies around the world, including the FDA and European Medicines Agency (EMA), issued guidance on maintaining clinical trial continuity during COVID -19. These guides on conducting clinical trials during the pandemic included using methods such as virtual visits, phone interviews, self -administration, and remote monitoring.

How did COVID-19 impact social media usage in pharma industry?

COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing measures forced pharma to rapidly implement new ways of engaging with customers, as well as promoting their brands and messaging. This includes increasing online marketing efforts and end-user reach via social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

There is a whole spectrum of social media services being leveraged by the pharmaceutical industry, ranging from social listening to marketing campaigns. The end users are thus gradually driving the increased pharma social media presence. With more patients and physicians moving to digital channels to conduct their healthcare research, social media can help pharmaceutical companies to harness experience-driven relationships.

What were the obstacles to digital transformation in pharma industry?

The insufficient funding followed by lack of specific skills and talents and organizational silos were indicated as the top factors hindering digital transformation efforts.

Insufficient funding was seen as the major hindrance among respondents from smaller companies. Unlike larger-scale organizations, small companies may have more limited channels to secure funding and attract talent to keep up with digitalization efforts.

The digital transformation has also impacted business operations in many organizations, creating a huge demand for employees possessing digital skills. Short supply and high demand for tech-savvy talent was a particularly pressing concern in larger companies that tend to have more operations and systems to digitalize.

In companies, a lot of digital technologies require the integration of resources and data; hence, cooperation is essential to a successful digital transformation. This obstacle was thus more prevalent in large companies that tend to have more complex organizational structures.

What are the concerns associated with digital transformation in pharma industry?

Digital privacy and data security issues have been trending as a top concern associated with digital transformation from the past years. The healthcare industry holds a large amount of sensitive data and intellectual property (IP). Digital privacy and data security issues and unclear return on investment were listed as the main concerns by respondents across all geographical locations.

While ranked as the second biggest concern in 2019, evolving regulatory requirements seemed to diminish their relevance in pharma. This may be associated with many governments relaxing their regulatory restrictions to allow pharmaceutical companies to digitalize their processes in order to continue with work.

What are the emerging technologies in digital transformation in pharma industry?

Social media and cloud computing stood out as must-have technologies during the COVID -19 crisis, likely driven by the need to maintain data availability find alternative avenues to reach end-users such as physicians, and drive patient engagement. Although 2021 survey findings indicated a decrease in current investments in cloud computing and social media, these technologies still remained critical tools enabling pharma companies to facilitate remote working, engage with patients, and improve marketing or training initiatives.

A few of the emerging technologies were believed to have a significant increase in investment due to COVID-19. AI together with Big Data also stands out as a versatile combination to address challenges faced by the entire pharmaceutical value chain.


This report provides a comprehensive analysis of the digital transformation and emerging technology in the healthcare industry market-

  • Benchmark the level of business readiness and adoption
  • Better understand the business functions impacted the most
  • Assess barriers to adoption
  • Define requirements for success
  • Determine the importance of emerging technologies to these organizations
  • Evaluate levels of investment
  • Assess the impact of COVID-19 on digitalization efforts

Reasons to Buy

  • Stay up to date on the scope, challenges, and essentials for the digital transformation within the healthcare industry.
  • Explore how innovations are transforming the healthcare industry and what impact on the sector these technologies will have in the near future.
  • Develop and design your corporate strategies through an in-house expert analysis of the key factors of digital transformation and emerging technology in the healthcare sector.
  • Develop business strategies by understanding the key factors of digital transformation and emerging technology in the healthcare sector.
  • Identify emerging industry trends in the uptake of emerging technologies to gain a competitive advantage.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents (PowerPoint Deck)

1. Objectives and Design

1.1.1. Respondent Mix

1.1.2. Key Findings

2. Overview of Digital Transformation

2.1.1. Overview of Digital Transformation

2.1.2. COVID-19 Impact of Digital Transformation

3. Digital Transformation Strategies

3.1.1. Digital Transformation Strategies

3.1.2. Clinical Trial Disruptions during COVID-19 Crisis

3.1.3. Addressing Clinical Trial Disruptions

3.1.4. Physician Interactions with Pharma Sales Reps Post-COVID-19

3.1.5. Impact of COVID-19 on Social Media Usage

4. Digital Transformation Objectives

4.1.1. Digital Transformation Objectives – COVID-19

4.1.2. Collaboration Between Pharmaceutical Industry and Tech

4.1.3. Digital Transformation Objectives

4.1.4. Digital Transformation Growth

5. Obstacles to Digital Transformation

6. Concerns Associated with Digital Transformation

6.1.1. Concerns Associated with Digital Transformation

6.1.2. Concerns Associated with Digital Transformation – In Their Words

7. Necessities for Digital Transformation

8. Emerging Technologies – Investment Trends

8.1.1. Emerging Technologies

8.1.2. COVID-19 Impact on Investment in Emerging Technologies

8.1.3. The Future of Robotics in Manufacturing

8.1.4. Disruptive Emerging Technologies

8.1.5. Job Analytic Graphs on AI and Big Data

8.1.6. Disruptive Emerging Technologies – In Their Words

8.1.7. Case Study – AI’s Role in Drug Discovery Process

8.1.8. Case Study – Telehealth Expansion During COVID-19

8.1.9. Case Study – Drug Repurposing and Screening Using AI

8.1.10. Case Study – AI and the Future of Personalized Medicine

8.1.11. Case Study – AI Triumphs in the Fight Against COVID-19

9. Summary of Key Findings

9.1.1. Digital Transformation – In Their Words

9.1.2. Key Findings

10. Appendix

10.1.1. Bibliography

10.1.2. About the Authors

11. Contact Us

Frequently Asked Questions

Social media and cloud computing are the major technologies in pharma industry’s digital transformation followed by AI with big data.

COVID-19 uncovered a strong need for innovation and the adoption of digital tools. The pandemic thus has acted as a trigger that forced the pharmaceutical sector to accelerate the digital transformation timeline and has boosted the overall industry growth.


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