Over 1000 healthcare professionals from 78 pharma companies, 105 speakers featuring in 85 talks and 16 workshops, came together in the beautiful city of Barcelona for thought leadership and innovation in the healthcare industry at eyeforpharma 2017. Challenges, trends and inspiration for change were addressed through a powerful seminar programme, focused on the 2017 theme ‘United for Healthcare’.

I was fortunate enough to be part of the Salesforce Healthcare & Life Sciences team to attend the conference and here are the three trends that really stuck out for me: 

1. Uniting to drive innovation in pharma

It was evident from the buzzing conversations and seminars during eyeforpharma that a journey of transformation is emerging within the healthcare and life sciences industry - the traditional, transactional pharma model is no longer viable.

Rewriting the customer experience will be the key to competitive advantage for pharma organisations - the burning question is ‘what does the customer need and does the technology serve this?’ 

Unity across the different divisions of healthcare will be key for driving this innovation. In Quintiles IMS's session on ‘Addressing pharma’s next challenges’, President for North Europe Middle East & Africa, Alistair Grenfell, predicted that whilst we currently focus on multi-channel engagement (with a focus on functional data), the future will see ‘orchestrated engagement’ come to the forefront (focused on trust and loyalty).

The theme of unity to drive innovation is echoed throughout the findings in our Next Gen for Life Sciences ebook

2. Patient-centricity through integration

Integration will be vital for healthcare and life sciences organisations to thrive, and a recurring theme during eyeforpharma was the need for a stronger connection between pharma and the patient.

Nagore Fernandez, Head of Clinical Services at Ashfield Commercial and Medical Services, took to the stage to share how Ashfield are putting the patient first and have moved towards a patient-centric model through Salesforce’s Health Cloud

Nagore explained how Ashfield Commercial and Medical Services have a single view of the patient, improving the patient experience at every step of their journey. The presentation brought to life the meaningful support services which are part of an omni-channel integrated model for patient engagement. 

3. Driving change - the future vision

Much of the content focused on being visionary and exploring how industries outside pharma are setting the expectation of customer experience - and how the healthcare and life sciences industry should take inspiration from these examples.

Kevin Dolgin has written an excellent article, drawing comparisons between Elon Musk's Tesla, and the pharma industry. He asks that instead of thinking about ‘digitizing pharma’, what would a ‘digital company that makes drugs’ look like? 

David St Denis, Head of Strategy and Commercial Operations at Merck predicted that by 2020, the patient will be the ultimate customer - but it will take a collaboration of players to help people to live better.

Ian Talmage, Senior Advisor for Bayer, shared his thought-provoking experience of being a patient of long-term illness and experiencing the very industry he has worked in for the majority of his career. A key area of growth in digital transformation that Ian predicted within healthcare is apps - and how apps are ‘on the cusp of being right’ and expects to see huge growth in future.

Final thoughts

Three days of inspiring discussions, debates and content demonstrated how technology, collaboration and engagement are driving change in the healthcare and life sciences industry - enabling pharma companies to become united for healthcare.

I tend to agree with Ian Talmage in believing that apps are fundamental to delivering the digital innovation that pharma companies, and patients, desire. Take a look at how apps are accelerating scientific breakthroughs and enhancing patient care in our Trailblazer for Healthcare & Life Sciences Guide.