Meeting the digital challenge in life sciences

Without debate, digital technologies have profoundly transformed how we exchange information. The internet and smartphones provide unparalleled access to information through a variety of electronic channels (e-channels), from websites to blogs, podcasts and apps to social media.

One could also argue that managing overall health has become one of the biggest beneficiaries of this digital revolution. The demand for reliable, health-related information grows unabated.

Opportunity is not without risk. Life sciences companies will need to holistically address the risks e-channels pose to all parts of their business.

Some life sciences companies have embraced this robust world of online exchange; others have not.

Irrespective of digital engagement, these channels provide ways to reach and connect with people, health consumers and other stakeholders, communicate marketing messages, enhance disease awareness, as well as driving competition through data mining and better understanding of their stakeholder needs.

Unfortunately, for life sciences organizations, the complexities of risk to provide information in this digital world are intensifying – particularly from regulatory and legal perspectives. The borderless nature of the internet and access to information no longer easily fits into a regional or country regulatory structure.

The cost of marketing non-compliance is potentially steep. According to Société Générale, from 2007 to 2012, the cumulative amount of marketing-related litigation costs paid out by a panel of 21 pharma companies soared in the last year by nearly 60%, from US$16b to US$26b.

Beyond penalties for non-compliance, e-channels expose companies to other business risks, such as potential damage to brand and reputation and leakage of sensitive and confidential information.

This article explores the four factors that drive risk complexity for life sciences companies. It also provides some guidance on how companies can identify and monitor digital content and e-channel risks.

Only by taking the risk of engaging online can companies reap the rewards – becoming a trusted partner in the health care journey of patients and other stakeholders.

The complete article was written by:

  • Dr. Frank Kumli
    Senior Manager, Global Life Sciences Center, EY, Switzerland
  • Adlai Goldberg
    Partner, Advisory Services, EY, Switzerland
  • Dr. Hicham Naim
    Senior Manager, Advisory Services, EY, Switzerland
  • Dr. Caroline Falciola
    Manager, Advisory Services, EY, Switzerland

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