HealthTech Startups Leveraging Data For Pharma Supply Chain Efficacy

Today, new age health-tech startups are helping create a network of digitised pharmacies and through it channel reliable data that can be used for a multitude of purposes

In today’s technology driven world, data-driven innovation has become one of the major engines of growth in many aspects. Over the last two years, big data has become a huge competitive advantage and source of growth for businesses around the world. One of the ways of achieving it has been to capitalise on data to build an efficient and resilient supply chain that ensures both operational profitability and improved customer satisfaction.

While healthcare has witnessed a great deal of technological advancement, it has never truly embraced it the way some other industries have. Along with the lack of awareness in technological adoption, the sector is also faced with several other challenges that limit quality healthcare from reaching the citizens, especially in the rural communities. In addition to this, inaccessibility of medicines to the patients with unaffordable costs, only adds onto the list of challenges.

However, the ecosystem took a fresh breath of air when new age startups and entrepreneurs started reinventing the traditional healthcare system by leveraging technologies like mobile, IoT, Cloud, AI and big data to streamline the healthcare solutions in India. In the healthcare realm, leveraging data has become essential for nearly every operational and clinical task, including population health management, quality benchmarking, supply chain management, diagnostic and predictive analytics, and clinical decision support.

One of the foremost advantages of leveraging data has been to streamline supply chain management of healthcare products and improve access to drugs. Pharma companies rarely have real time visibility of their secondary sales data i.e. the flow of stocks from the stockist to the retailers, leaving them vulnerable to demand shocks. Primary & secondary sales data are often triangulated, at best on a periodic basis, to arrive at tentative sales numbers with poor coverage and accuracy. This leads to supply planning getting adversely impacted causing shortage of stocks in the market and the consequent bounce of prescriptions, leading to inconvenience for the patients and their doctors and a huge opportunity cost for the companies and a loss of brand image. Pharmaceutical manufacturers need to accurately forecast demand and track production as well as the delivery time of drugs to prevent both excess supply and shortage of medicines in the market.

Additionally, leveraging big data analytics allows companies the access to view and track inventory in real time, and gain insights into exactly how many units of each stock will stay before it’s sold and where the unsold products will be stored. This insight can help companies better their inventory turnover, improve working capital allocation and make more-efficient use of their production resources.

Big data can also help in calculating the duration of the supply that can last during a supply chain disruption, informing decision-makers the time required to find a solution before serious drug shortages occur. Today, new age health-tech startups are helping create a network of digitised pharmacies and through it channel reliable data that can be used for a multitude of purposes including better demand forecasting, supply planning, optimised inventory levels, product launch preparedness, targeted marketing etc.

Start-ups thus often bridge the divide between demand and need for healthcare in India and pitch-in with possibilities for frugal innovation, for example, now Blockchain is being used for end to end traceability between the network of suppliers, manufacturers, logistics operators, through the distribution channel with better monitoring and quality control against counterfeiting of products that pose a serious threat to the patients. As more and more emerging technologies become mainstream, the industry needs to up-skill and embrace these newer technologies and leverage them to not only improve outcomes but also build a highly streamlined healthcare ecosystem.

(The given article is attributed to Somesh Katyayan, Business Head, Carin)

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Healthtech startups Pharma Supply Chain

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