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Pharmaceutical companies today are experiencing ever-growing challenges. This includes the need for expedited product and drug launches, patient outreach in a more virtual world, and the development of personalized medicine and therapies. 

All of these challenges require pharma companies to get smarter. They must know their patients better, understand how to target and educate healthcare providers, and increase engagement both in the clinical and commercial space.  

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To address these challenges, increasing connectivity amongst systems and business processes is critical. In this blog, we’ll discuss why integration is integral in helping pharma companies achieve their business priorities.  

Four benefits of a modern integration strategy for pharma 

1. Identify insights from your data 

Connecting data between both clinical and commercial settings has been a growing trend for pharma companies seeking growth. Increasingly, organizations are looking to artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions to create data insights. An example of this could be gleaning insights to understand how patients are interacting with a company’s services and therapies, or what health care providers have visited a company’s website. All of these insights can lead to increased patient engagement, retention, and recruitment. They can also help sales representatives understand what specific hospitals or healthcare providers they should educate or target. Data integration is key to enabling these insights, and if used effectively, can turn into significant top and bottom-line impact for organizations. 

2. Connect via partnerships  

Pharma companies are relying on external vendors or partnerships to provide many of their services and product offerings. For example, companies rely on clinical research organizations (CROs) to conduct clinical research, clinical trials, and pharmacovigilance. Organizations are partnering with each other to bring on additional capabilities that would otherwise take years for them to develop in-house, such as new therapies or commercialization services. While these increased partnerships can help drive scale and growth, it also creates an increased need for backend IT data sources to connect. Business-as-usual activities, such as financial reporting and compliance or regulatory needs require integrated data between organizations. In addition, there is an increasing need for this data to be accessed and viewed in real-time.  

3. Expand via mergers and acquisitions  

One of the fastest ways a company can expand its product offerings is through mergers and acquisitions and pharma is no stranger to this strategy. But with any two merging organizations, there is always a transition period where data must be integrated either across ERP systems, CRMs, portfolio management tools and so on. This integration is key to ensuring that normal operations are not disrupted and that the company is remaining compliant with regulatory boards and governance bodies. Organizations are dealing with two sets of applications, processes, and systems and they must have a strong data integration strategy to ensure that they are maintaining business operations.    

4. Scale with automation

Automation = time savings. And that time savings not only creates cost savings, it also generates incremental revenue through reinvested time. For example, sales personnel may spend significant time manually sorting through customer, order, fulfillment, and contract data in multiple disparate systems. This not only creates inefficiencies but also takes away time from revenue-generating activities, such as meeting and speaking with customers. Automating data exchange between systems into one connected experience can drive significant value for pharma companies.  

The challenge: Disparate systems, data silos, and resources

The three main challenges most organizations face today include disparate systems, data silos, and limited resources. Traditionally, pharma companies have a multitude of applications, many of them legacy, either hosted on-prem or in the cloud. According to the 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report, the average organization has 900+ applications, of which only a third are integrated. In addition, these data sources are not just internal. With external systems from partnerships, pharma companies’ application ecosystem can become further complicated. From the same report, we found that, across all industries globally, the average IT team spends 36% of its time designing, building, and testing custom integrations. Additionally, the average enterprise spends $3.5 million in IT labor managing custom point-to-point integrations. 

All of these challenges discourage organizations from taking advantage of the benefits they can gain from integration whether it be data insights, automation, better partnership connectivity, or merger and acquisition synergies. But there’s an answer to resolve this: a modern integration strategy.  

One great pharma example is Pfizer, which implemented a modern integration strategy to address the challenges of disparate systems, data silos, and limited resources. In fact, Pfizer achieved a 69% decrease in IT project delivery costs, enabled omnichannel physician engagement and secure clinical data sharing, and unlocked speed and agility. How did they do this? Through a modern integration strategy called an API-led connectivity approach

How to get started with a modern integration strategy

So, are you interested in integration but not sure where to start? Learn more about a modern integration approach by leveraging APIs in this blog entitled, “Bringing the power of integration to everyone” by MuleSoft CEO, Brent Hayward.