Digitization Making Supply Chain Innovation Essential in Pharma Sector

Robert Brice
Wed, Aug 16, 2017
Data-driven innovation is becoming critical in the pharma industry supply chain.
Data-driven innovation is becoming critical in the pharma industry supply chain.

Emerging regulatory requirements and changing health care industry demands are leading to digital transformation in the pharmaceutical sector.

Businesses in the pharma industry face pressure to innovate in a variety of ways, and companies that put an emphasis on their supply chains can position themselves to reduce operational costs, improve operational flexibility and reduce errors.

The good news for pharma companies going digital is that data-driven innovation has long been underway in the warehouse and supply chain sectors. From mobile data collection tools to robust systems to integrate data across business systems, businesses have a variety of options at their disposal to gain more transparency into and control of the supply chain.

Digital Services Rising in Pharma Sector
The move to digital can pose varied challenges depending on who you ask, but a report from PharmaExec explained that it often boils down to the ability to use data in more actionable and intelligent ways. Nicole Mowad-Nassar, vice president and lead for U.S. business operations and external partnerships at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, told the news source that data is at the center of the digital transformation taking place in the industry.

"Digital health means something different to everyone," said Mowad-Nassar. "Some say wearables, some say it's apps. Digital to me means data. It's about collecting data, analyzing data, and acting on data."

The increased reliance on data in the pharma industry is particularly evident in the supply chain. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, pharma organizations are particularly well positioned to create value from digital advances in the supply chain. Because many pharma industry operations depend on a fully globalized supply chain influenced by a variety of external factors, organizations must be particularly flexible, responsive and precise in how they move assets between locations. Digitization makes this possible by creating the interwoven network of data needed to synchronize operations between humans, machines and cyber-assets.

Getting these disparate systems to work in tandem is critical in responding to the digital revolution taking place in the health care industry at large, and establishing a digital supply chain is necessary in response. In particular, PwC pointed out that the transparency created in a digital supply chain can make it easier to prevent counterfeiting and stand up to regulatory scrutiny. Furthermore, bringing data together under a common umbrella can make it easier to interconnect operations across supply chain stakeholders spread over a large geographical area.

Establishing a Digital Supply Chain
Data collection and integration is central to the digital supply chain. Finding success with these processes begins with mobile solutions. Having employees track inventory levels and shipping processes on paper only to then duplicate that data entry on computers later in the day isn't good enough in today's pharma world. The potential for error is staggering. The ability to hide small discrepancies within such a complex systems is a haven for fraudsters. The slow pace of operations will leave stakeholders struggling to synchronize their operations and limit value potential relative to market demand.

Mobile data collection is central to digital supply chains in the pharma sector. Employees should be able to quickly scan a barcode to log a product, verify its condition and otherwise interact with physical assets. From there, underlying systems must be in place to integrate that raw data with enterprise resource planning and warehouse management systems to keep stakeholders informed and log data automatically. This digital workflow is increasingly within reach in the supply chain sector, and pharma companies that want to go digital must begin by transforming data collection and integration.

Data is the central element in any digital transformation program. Being able to collect and integrate data efficiently represents the first step into a digital supply chain world.

Learn More: Download the White Paper

Serialization in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain – Complying with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act Using a Mobile Data Collection Solution.

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