Top pharma executives say lack of funding stalling digital revolution

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Digital digitalization Pharma industry Pharmaceutical industry

A new report from Graphite Digital has revealed that 36% of senior leaders in pharma agree that funding is the biggest barrier to digital adoption and transformation, despite increasing spend.

The study, titled Disconnected Pharma, is based on 100 in-depth interviews with executives from leading companies including AstraZeneca, Novartis and Impatient Health. 

Despite such challenges, the research reveals that 51% of pharma companies are poised to boost their digital investments in the next two years, while the rest will maintain current spending levels.

Though slight increases of up to 25% are most common, 3% of businesses are set to make significant budget boosts of over 25%, as pharma firms fortify their digital capacities and offerings.

In addition, leaders in the pharma sector have 'clear' ideas of what will play the most crucial role in driving digital disruption over the next five years. 

According to the findings, 37% prioritize robust data security and privacy measures, while 20% emphasize collaborative ecosystems and partnerships. Additionally, 13% underscore the importance of integrating emerging technologies.

Despite ambitious visions for how the industry could evolve digitally over the next five years, reported increases in funding may not be sufficient.  

With 36% of respondents citing internal budget constraints as a barrier, many agree that current investment in products and strategies falls short, with organizations often underestimating associated costs. 

Rob Verheul, CEO at Graphite Digital, said: “Securing additional budget often requires senior leaders and project managers to demonstrate return on investment or proof of concept, which means finding ways to quantify success in projects that can often take many years to deliver tangible results.

"It is critical to manage expectations for milestones and what success looks like when it comes to long-term digital projects and product development – especially when seeking to build confidence and securing additional funding.”

The senior pharma leaders also highlighted a disconnect between delivery teams and senior stakeholders in measuring success, potentially hindering budget allocation.

As such, 64% admit that tracked metrics lack alignment with organizational KPIs, with 47% emphasizing excessive focus on vanity metrics and short-term gains. 

A further 54% reported that KPI setting was often happening too late in the deployment process, leading to ineffective products failing to meet patient and HCP needs, often seen as wasteful spending.

Verheul continued: “Having a clear understanding of the ‘why’ behind all projects from the outset will help to set meaningful objectives and KPIs that can be used to demonstrate value – and make sure that both digital teams and senior stakeholders are on the same page.

"It is important to create a clear connection between the business goals and project outcomes to ensure that digital initiatives benefit both the organisation and its customers.”

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