Is COVID Still the Major Consideration for Pharma Companies?
While COVID-19 was the seismic pharma trend in 2020, will it be the major factor in shaping hiring in the sector in 2021? Here we examine seven trends that you must not ignore as you shape your hiring strategies and business model for 2021 and beyond.
1. Market Challenges Will Persist
If pharma companies cannot access their markets, investment and innovation will reduce. Outcomes for patients will be poorer, and new drugs pipelines will deplete. Healthcare costs, aging populations, chronic disease, and regulatory pressures are disrupting market access.
In addition, difficulty to access capital, the shortage of skilled staff, and border closures caused by COVID-19 have exacerbated these challenges. Supply chains are fragmented, and constraints on pricing may lead to reduced revenues.
There is a shift to increased use of high-tech solutions, including AI and machine learning. However, while conventional wisdom says that this should reduce jobs, experience tells us that roles are likely to evolve. People will be expected to interact with technology, analyze data sets, and create algorithms that determine the work that technology does in pharma.
2. Pharma Will Become Increasingly Driven by RWD and RWE
Drug development is likely to benefit from increased use of real-world evidence (RWE) and real-world data (RWD).
Sources of RWD include:
- Electronic health records (EHRs)
- Claims and billing activities
- Product and disease registries
- Patient-generated data including in home-use settings
- Data gathered from other sources that can inform on health status, such as mobile device
RWE is the clinical evidence that is derived from RWD. This can be used to confirm the results of randomized evidence, and has been enabled by the 21st Century Cures Act.
Specialist skills will be needed when analyzing and interpreting data. Professionals will need to possess critical thinking skills, be curious as to outcomes, and assess validity of inputs. Again, we can envisage the deployment of AI technology to undertake repetitive tasks in these processes.
3. Manufacturing Will Be Increasingly Outsourced
As companies attempt to move drugs to market more cheaply and efficiently, the outsourcing of manufacturing is likely to continue to grow. This business model will extend further into drug development, with outsourcing organizations providing support across the lifetime of a drug, from development, through clinical testing, manufacturing and commercialization, and regulatory support.
Along with greater use of technology, this shift will help companies to reduce and control costs. Consequently, we are likely to see greater employment of contractors and specialist teams with defined skillsets within outsourcing companies and consultancies.
4. Digital Therapeutics Will Advance Remote Health Solutions
Digital therapeutics have been around for a while now, but the big switch to telehealth initiated by COVID-19 has put the spotlight on wider use of them.
When a drug is prescribed, it is accompanied by a digital device. This collects physiological data which is transmitted to the physician. This allows more comprehensive monitoring of conditions and more fluid treatment plans. Quicker intervention will help reduce potential medical crises.
Once more, the collection and dissemination of personal data is a risk that must be mitigated by strict adherence to privacy regulations. However, one way on which this information could help pharma to develop and innovate drugs and treatments is by collecting the huge mass of data available and subjecting it to deep analysis.
5. Business Models Will Continue to Evolve
The pandemic caused a seismic shift in how pharma companies operate. Digital technology has been embraced. Salespeople have become more comfortable working from home and using video communications to conduct sales presentations. Pharma companies have had to re-envisage how they operate, including:
- Localizing supplies and manufacturing
- Slowing down clinical trial recruitment
- Tightening control on costs
- Redesigning their sales processes
- Streamlining logistics and distribution
The evolution of business models is likely to lead to more distributed workforces and increasing reliance on outsourced expertise. It is more cost-effective to hire individuals or teams as need arises rather than hire full-time employees to work in-house or at home.
6. Digital Businesses Require Digital Defenses
As pharma businesses accelerate their adoption of digital technologies and evolve their business models, the potential for cyberattack will increase. Indeed, according to a study by Bitglass security breaches are increasing at an alarming rate within healthcare. The protected health information of approximately 26 million people in the United States has been estimated to have been impacted by healthcare breaches.
Most breaches (which rose from 386 in 2019 to 599 in 2020) were caused by hacking and IT incidents, with more than 90% resulting in theft or personal information.
To combat these threats, pharma companies would be advised to employ a combination of digital defense strategies and tech specialists with specific experience in this field. Additionally, pharma should boost their capability in regulatory affairs.
7. COVID-19 Hasn’t Finished With Us Yet
Though the vaccination program is progressing at pace, we cannot be certain that more unwanted surprises are not waiting for us. We are still gathering data about the nature of the virus, and it continues to mutate.
We cannot be certain of future rates of transmission, or if the current vaccines will work against new variants. Consequently, R&D into this virus and other potential pandemics is likely to increase, as well as development of new and booster vaccines. Additionally, pharma companies are likely to remain agile in their hiring strategies, adapting quickly to the world situation as it continues to evolve.
How Will You Recruit Better for These Pharma Trends?
Like the rest of the world, pharma companies have rapidly adopted technology into their business models. They continue to evolve these models in response to changing consumer habits and the needs of their business. Such change is always accompanied by a shift in hiring dynamics, whether this is how companies hire, where they hire, or the skills they hire.
Many of these trends were already embedded onto the pharma sector. COVID-19 has served to accelerate them, and this has caused a significant gap in the skills required to remain competitive in the market.
For the help you need in closing the skills gap and remaining agile and competitive in the global market, contact Catalyst Life Sciences today.