Constant and persistent innovation is the hallmark of today’s multibillion dollar pharmaceutical industry. The Research and Development (R&D) of a single medicine can span over many years and gulp millions but these factors do not deter industry giants from their efforts.
Another great protection to this industry are strong patent laws so that once a company formulates a solution, it can safely reap its benefits for years to come. Like many other industries, cloud computing has proved its mettle here as well when it comes to flexibility, efficiency and cost effectiveness.
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Concerns Unique to Pharmaceutical Industry
The primary concern when prospecting for any cloud based solution in the medicinal industry revolves around security. However, the stakes in terms of security are very high as extremely personal and sensitive information resides with these companies.
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This can be considered as the most valuable asset of any pharmaceutical company. At the end of day, any medicine is basically a perfect formulation of a few chemicals that interact with the human body in such a way that an ailment is fully cured.
Many diseases that we don’t even know of today, consumed the lives of millions of people worldwide once they escalated to a pandemic stage. We owe a lot to the pharmaceutical industry for immensely increasing the average life expectancy and the quality of life in general.
The major insecurity for a pharmaceutical company when it deploys a cloud solution is that will its intellectual property be safe from the prying eyes of competitors. Once someone lays hand on a medicine’s formulation, it is a matter of days or weeks before the same medicine can be replicated.
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On-going Research and Development (R&D)
The concern about protecting the intellectual property is not limited to the already perfected medicines. Pharmaceutical giants are simultaneously performing R&D on tens or hundreds of new or more potent cures for diseases, infections and disorders.
Protection of this “work in progress” is also a legitimate concern for medicinal companies. Previously conducted R&D is also constantly being correlated with fresh studies to derive substantial results. From a cloud computing perspective, this is highly sensitive data.
Information About Patients
Conducting R&D for new medicines is just one major part of the overall picture. Pharmaceutical companies are also responsible for ensuring the timely production and delivery of prescription drugs. After all, the well-being or even lives of countless people may depend on this process going as planned.
As a part of this whole process, pharmaceutical companies house the medical and prescription records of millions of patients. On a personal level, medical records can be a highly sensitive and confidential piece of information. A vast majority of patients are not at all comfortable with even disclosing their ailment to others.
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Pharmaceutical companies are gravely and rightly concerned once they consider migrating this highly sensitive data over to the cloud. Any patient’s medical records getting hacked or stolen is the last thing a pharmaceutical company wants on its already full plate.
Now that we have discussed the challenges any pharmaceutical company would face while deploying a cloud solution, let’s highlight the potential advantages of the cloud for this industry.
Pharmaceutical companies operate in a highly dynamic environment. As the state of any patient changes, for better or worse, the prescription has to be revised. In this situation, data centrality can greatly enhance the efficiency and accuracy of the entire process.
It is otherwise much feasible to effectively protect a central data store instead of securing data spread across multiple locations. With the all-time encrypted data vision nearing reality, data theft will otherwise become history quite soon.
As pointed out earlier, drug prescriptions keep changing with the patient’s condition. If all the patient’s data including history and prescriptions moves to the cloud, it can greatly enhance the efficiency of the whole process. As soon as the prescription of a patient changes, the medicinal company will be notified in real-time.
Supply Chain Management
Pharmaceutical companies have an extensive procurement regime in which they have to plan for meeting the existing and forecasted demand for their medicines. They also have to make allowance for certain medicines whose demand greatly fluctuates with the spread of certain viral or contagious diseases.
By moving to the cloud, pharmaceutical companies can easily integrate the demand for their medicines with the respective suppliers in real time. This will not only ensure the timely availability of all the raw materials but also greatly reduce warehousing costs that are constantly on the rise.
Any cloud solution is bound to bring along cost efficiency to the deploying company. Pharmaceutical companies have to invest millions of dollars in medicinal R&D equipment. This often leaves most such companies with virtually no financial resources to upgrade their IT infrastructure.
As a result, the IT infrastructure remains lagging behind as it does not figure among the company’s key performance indicators (KPIs). By moving to the cloud, medicinal companies no longer have to worry about a lagging IT infrastructure as they can leverage the power of the cloud solution.
Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A)
The pharmaceutical industry is one with a relatively high rate of M&A. It is common for two main reasons. One company may have a strong medicinal portfolio in a specific group of diseases while the other may have ample excess capacity to bridge the demand gap.
Secondly, the R&D related to medicinal cure is so time and resource exhaustive that most companies decide to go for an M&A more as a necessity. Any M&A will surely give rise to serious business continuity woes. In the medicinal industry, business disruption is simply not an option as people’s lives hang in the balance.
Cloud solutions immensely mitigate the daunting challenges of any M&A in general and business continuity in particular. All the business critical processes such as forecasting medicinal demand and filling patient’s prescriptions can be fully migrated to the cloud.
As the integration issues get streamlined over the course of the M&A, the cloud computing solution will adequately and effectively bridge the gap of business continuity. Disaster Recovery (DR) is another key advantage built into a good cloud computing solution which is also highly essential for the pharmaceutical industry.
Ease of Prescription
It is often said that part of any patient’s recovery depends on the doctor as well, in addition to the medicines that are prescribed. For this very reason, most patients feel comfortable with the physician who has a detailed rapport with them. But your favorite doctor may not always be physically present for consultation.
This is another area where cloud computing can help to a certain extent. In nonemergency cases where the physician is not available in person, small tweaks to the prescription can be made over the cloud by a physician. This will obviously be possible once sufficient actionable information has been made available to the doctor over the cloud.
Such a solution can also be very helpful when the consultant and patient are geographically separated. Over the cloud, a consultant sitting in the US can render valuable advice to a patient residing in the UK. This will obviously be feasible once the consultant has procured sufficient data about the patient over the cloud.
Discovering new cures is not as straight forward as it seems. One medicine that treats a certain symptom may adversely affect another bodily function. The modelling and testing of medicines is full of scenarios with multiple effects. To formulate these detailed cause and effects, a lot of processing power is required.
Medicinal scientists have to work on complex genetic, biochemical, cellular and molecular models to fully contemplate the cause and effect of each medicine. The immense processing muscle of Cloud Service Providers can greatly help and make this rather complex set of tasks much simpler and quicker.
The potential for Cloud Computing Solutions doing wonders in the pharmaceutical industry is immense. The security of intellectual property, R&D and confidential patient information should be key considerations nonetheless. With cloud solutions becoming a lot more secure, it is about time that more pharmaceutical companies will embrace the cloud.