The Digital Transformation — ugh…

I know I need to know this…Digital Stuff but… it’s so out of my wheelhouse I can’t really focus on it. 

There are a lot of articles about the digital transformation happening right now, and it is something all of us in every industry should at least recognize. But it’s also something I never focus on so for me – a bit hard.  So I pulled a few things from various sources to highlight some of the most recent topics in digital as well as some questions they pose to me.  And I am definitely not an IT person or a digital person — but I do recognize it’s here, it’s coming and I at least need to understand some of the big picture surrounding it. So here goes.

Healthcare Trackers

  • General: Expansion to tracking healthcare versus just steps for the average person. Apple and iphone are looking at a one stop shot application for all your needs in healthcare
  • Specific to Diseases/Conditions (Diabetes is the big user)
  • In the case of diabetes, these kinds of applications offer synchronized information on blood glucose, activity and nutrition


a)  Can this help people become more health literate? Does this help with recruiting to trials then, people understand benefits and risks more?

b) Can patients now tie in better to their electronic health records (EHR)?

c) Does this replace or add to the prescribing information?

d) How does this impact real-world evidence to factor into drug development protocols?

Virtual “Stuff”

  • Surgeries — which provide feedback to factor into improved teaching
  • Healthcare Clinics – patients don’t have to go to physical offices – in this model, the patient drives the healthcare interaction
  • Human Caregivers – provide disease specific information


a) Does this add to/replace “googling” health information on yourself?

b) What about the one minute clinics in some of the pharmacies? The urgent care centers – does this replace them?

c) Where would the human caregiver be? Virtual on your computer, your phone? Hospital?

 Drones Delivering medicine and blood products


a) How does this impact the supply chain? Or does it eliminate some of it?  What are the cost implications?

b) Does it create some kind of black market use?

c) Can this also be used in rural US settings?

d) Is it used for emergencies – to get critical care to people in remote areas?

3-D Printing

They’ve printed limbs – now potentially pills


a) Can you print in remote areas?

b) How do people get these printers and what’s the cost of working with them? Can be it be cost-effective for even chronic care?

c) How would this fit into the whole issue of pricing?

d) Does this change manufacturing operations? Pharmacies?

AI in Everything?

Artificial intelligence has the potential to replace people doing “mundane” and “complex” work.  So that covers a lot of areas from human resources to clinical trials. AI itself isn’t new – but it’s finding opportunities in areas not considered before, such as early drug candidate testing – pulling biological data together to evaluate compounds.


a) How can this lower costs in R&D and would that effect the overall price of drugs?

b) Does this eliminate functions entirely – such as accounting, HR, marketing?

c) Can we actually do clinical trials differently with AI?


All of these technologies pose a few standard questions:

  • What organizational changes would these represent?
  • What expertise is now needed to manage these?
  • If and how do health authorities regulate these or standardize these?
  • Will I lose my job? — Will the industry lose my job?