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The Transformation of Life Sciences in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Victoria Ebel, Appian
July 25, 2018

I recently had the pleasure of attending DIA's annual conference in Boston. This year's conference was buzzing with speakers from all over the world and all aspects of the life sciences industry discussing hot topics of the moment. I attended many sessions discussing how to implement technology to handle new regulations, the emergence of important technology in the field, and the increasing influence of patient data on the drug development process. Appian's own session, with our customer IQVIA, delved into our use of cloud and other advanced technologies to improve clinical trials at IQVIA.

An emphasis on technology disruption was prevalent throughout all sessions of DIA 2018, with one presenter commenting that this shows that we are now fully in the fourth industrial revolution.

What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The fourth industrial revolution is defined as a fusion of technologies that are blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. It takes into account advanced technologies that are being introduced and spreading into all industries. In the context of life sciences, the fourth industrial revolution is presenting new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, nanotechnology, 3-D printing, and the Internet of Things. These factors, combined with systems able to manage, store, and analyze the stream of big data gathered from patients, trials, and other sources, will lead to digitally transformative scientific achievements.

So how exactly is the fourth industrial revolution impacting life sciences innovation? Here are some examples of the evolutions happening within the industry:

    • Drug developers are moving focus to curing sickness, not the sick. Instead of taking a reactive approach by developing drugs that aid those who are unwell, the next generation of innovators will proactively find solutions to improve the health of entire populations, ultimately preventing the diseases they are currently trying to cure.

    • Wearable health technology will continue to rise, monitoring and improving our health in everyday life. This could ultimately lead to medical monitoring devices being implanted in the body to help people manage their health more closely.

The potential for ground-breaking discoveries and innovations in the fourth industrial revolution is immense for the life sciences industry. Yet, for these innovations to come into effect, organizations must adapt their business processes to match the new age.

How can Life Sciences Tap into the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Life Sciences organizations must first make data accessible across departments, to gather insights that drive new ideas and breakthroughs, and improve product outcomes. Appian provides the single, unified platform that can make this possible by breaking down siloed data and bridging legacy systems. With the help of a platform like Appian, companies have the ability to stay on top of new innovations in the industry, streamline processes, and better manage the high volumes of data generated from EHRs, claims, clinical trials, and more.

Life Sciences organizations are also turning to AI to help streamline their process and garner better, more accurate results. A tool such as Robotic Process Automation especially can help:

"Life sciences organizations need to focus on redesigning jobs and tasks by utilizing the more essential human skills and integrating them with technology to achieve efficiency. For example, embracing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help clinical researchers improve the accuracy and quality of the research processes in R&D and drug safety." -Deloitte

New technology is disrupting and ultimately transforming the life sciences industry in the fourth industrial revolution. Processes are becoming more efficient, drug development is becoming less expensive, and innovations are becoming more life-altering. To read more about how Appian's unified platform with technology such as cloud and RPA, can help life sciences organizations meet the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, please visit our resource center.

And, to hear more about our potential as an industry and get further feedback on the DIA annual conference, check out our Appian Live Expert Cut with Terry Robinson, VP of Pharma & Life Sciences.