pharmaArguably, no other industry is experiencing the depth of changes occurring in life sciences today. Including the United States, four of the G7 countries plus China and Brazil have recently passed significant legislation that changes the paradigm for patient care. Across continents, there is a renewed emphasis on affordable, value-based treatments, even as pharmaceutical companies are losing billions of dollars due to patent expirations and generic drug growth. These changes are taking place in a heightened regulatory environment with requirements that vary across geographic markets.

Global pharmaceutical companies must adapt to address these challenges. Strategies to cope with the shifting regulatory climate include:

  • Lowering costs to satisfy pricing demands imposed by new legislation
  • Reducing development cycle time and costs
  • Improving regulatory compliance

It’s Time to Enter the Digital Era

Navigating these changes requires pharmaceutical companies to rethink the way they do business: to be satisfied with the status quo is to fall behind. Patients are more connected than ever and expect to have mobile access to everything from their Amazon order to their prescriptions, yet pharmaceutical companies are lagging in their own adoption.

It’s time to usher the pharmaceutical industry into the digital era. Global enterprises have saved millions of dollars by converting paper-based processes to digital workflows, and those benefits come from both hard dollar savings and productivity gains. One of our customers estimates that they save $10 million dollars or more per day, for every day the company gets a drug to market faster. With average time savings of at least 21 days for DocuSign life science customers, that’s a cool $210 million dollar benefit from investing in digital.

Even as companies recognize the need to go digital, a recent study on digital transformation by industry ranks pharmaceutical companies a 5.0 of 10 on the digital maturity index – smack in the middle – meaning that the industry is still on a journey to fully embrace digital operations.

This sluggish digital adoption may be a result of the arduous process of bringing new drugs to market, a process that is still littered with paper. Researching and commercializing new medicines depends on collecting troves of clinical data and getting signatures from patients, investigators, executives, and partners around the world. Processes ranging from clinical onboarding to sales and sample management benefit from going digital – not only for efficiency gains but also to counter security risks. Continuing to complete transactions by printing, scanning, faxing and overnighting documents is highly inefficient and error prone, which creates additional security and audit risks.

Analyst firms recommend investing in digital operations to improve workflows across departments like HR and procurement and to reduce development cycle time, improving clinical trial processes and simplifying operations. The Deloitte 2014 Global Life Sciences Outlook notes “life sciences companies should think about how to effectively leverage digital technologies to improve their engagement with partners and customers and to continue propelling growth.”

Opportunities for digital adoption abound in pharmaceutical companies. Where will your digital transformation begin?

Best Practices for Adopting a Digital Strategy

Many companies are still struggling with how to develop and implement their digital strategy. Fortunately, they are not the first ones to take this journey. In our experience working with over 110,000 customers across industries and departments, we have learned that the most successful companies adopting digital strategies have a few things in common:

  • Executive sponsors
  • Shared success metrics
  • Prioritized use case roadmap
  • Digital center of excellence
  • Digital adoption plan
  • Services partner

As you start to prioritize specific use cases for digital adoption, it is important to begin with simple use cases, like HR forms, that will quickly demonstrate success and build excitement around digital adoption, while simultaneously tackling more complicated but higher value use cases, like eClinical portals. Implementing simpler, internal use cases in conjunction with the first external use cases provides strategic benefits for your digital transformation, including:

  • Building momentum through early wins
  • Learning critical lessons that can be applied to more complex and higher-profile use cases
  • Exposing DocuSign to key stakeholders and thus increasing their awareness, understanding, and comfort with the DocuSign technology

This last point is key. Recent research highlights that a clear digital strategy combined with a culture and leadership committed to driving the digital transformation are key attributes of digitally mature organizations. Identifying an internal champion to drive adoption, selecting key success metrics and creating a centralized team to act as subject matter experts are all critical steps in successfully transitioning to a fully digital enterprise.

Your Digital Guide

Leveraging our experience with 14 of the top 15 global pharmaceutical companies, we created a guide to help pharmaceutical organizations accelerate their transition to a fully digital enterprise. Using this tool can help your organization accelerate its digital adoption and achieve results sooner.

Click here to begin your digital journey and learn more about how DocuSign can help your organization.