Automation Opportunities for Medical Affairs
Speaker: Rishi Ohri
Speaker: April Davis
The podcast objectives are to:
– Understand key aspects of Automation to understand the potential opportunities
– Learn the Application of Automation within Medical Affairs – key examples and takeaways
– Hear Recommendations on how to learn more and how to begin or accelerate your automation journey.
Following is an automated transcription provided by otter.ai. Please excuse inaccuracies.
Welcome to the Medical Affairs Professional Societies Digital Focused Area Working Groups three-part podcast series focusing on automation opportunities for Medical Affairs. In this first podcast, we’ll be meeting with an industry expert on automation within the pharmaceutical industry. My name is Rishi Ori, and I’ll be the moderator for this podcast. I currently serve as a member of the Digital Focus Area Working Group, and work for Astellas Pharma, and Heading Digital Excellence for Medical Affairs. I worked for Astellas for the past 14 years and have been focused in Medical Affairs Digital Transformation for over seven years. From a legal disclaimer perspective, the views expressed in this recording are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect on the opinions of MAPS, or the companies with which they are affiliated. This presentation is for informational purposes only and is not intended as illegal or regulatory advice. We encourage you to engage in conversations about digital opportunities within Medical Affairs, and with other MAPS members via the map connect or on the MAPS website or the mobile app. Simply login with your email address and password and the associated MAPS account that you have. And click the global community and the discuss tab and scroll down to post a question or review any previous recordings. So today’s podcast objectives are firstly, we want to understand what are key aspects of automation to understand the potential opportunities. Let’s talk about some applications of automation within Medical Affairs and some key examples and takeaways. And lastly, let’s talk through some recommendations and how to learn more how to begin or accelerate your automation journey. I’d like to thank today’s panelists for sharing their subject matter expertise with the MAPS membership. Speaking Today is April Davis. April. welcome today’s today’s podcast. And I’m extremely excited to facilitate. Would you mind please sharing a brief background provide more information on your current position?
April Davis. 02:11
Hi, Rishi, thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. I’m super excited to be here, automation. And r&d is certainly very important to me, I have a passion in it. In my current role at Accenture, I actually drive innovation across r&d predominantly on the DC side of r&d. I’ve been at Accenture for almost 10 years in a variety of roles, but currently serving as an innovation lead driving r&d. I have a background in industry in clinical trials, and I’ve worked with medical and commercial in that space for over 25 years. Super excited to be here, Rishi.
Rishi Ohri. 02:54
Thank you April. And you know, we always hear about do more with less. And I think automation is a very important secret ingredient of that that recipe. So today, we’re going to begin with some quick definitions and terms that we’ll be using in this podcast. April, we often hear terms like RPA, which is robotic process automation, and NLP, which is natural language processing and a few other popular terms. From your perspective, what are the key terms and definitions we should consider when learning more about automation?
April Davis. 03:31
It’s a very good question. And you’re absolutely right, that it could be quite confusing out there. You know, in terms of understanding automation, in its simplest terms, you can understand automation, as a spectrum of capabilities that leverage technology. As you mentioned, robotic process automation, or RPA. Works on a level of maturity where it’s transactional based. So quite simply being able to mimic rules, or do very simple tasks, going from A to B, for example, or moving a file from A to B. As you move along the spectrum of automation. You’re really thinking about, as you say, artificial intelligence and natural language processing. And with those technologies, you’re actually introducing a level of judgment or prediction, or a level of forecasting where simpler RPA type technology would not provide. And in those particular cases, you’re really thinking about more transformational type opportunities for which you would apply that. And an industry today particularly in in r&d. It’s a wide variety of use with regards from the simplest of transactional based automation, for example RPA to your more advanced and as we get into it, you know, we really, it really did Hands on what you’re trying to solve for, and the value you’re trying to get out
Rishi Ohri. 05:05
of it. It’s very true. It’s really amazing to hear more about this. And I know some of us are either in the process or have already implemented things like chat bots and other things that really take advantage of some of these capabilities, which is super, super exciting. So now that we’ve acclimated everyone to some of the lingo, let’s, let’s really take it back to our podcast objective. So, so APR, from your viewpoint? What are some of the key aspects of automation that, you know, we should really understand to really assess those future potential opportunities?
April Davis. 05:40
From my perspective, it’s about thinking of automation and the application of automation with a framework. So if you think about the evaluation criteria, or the automation evaluation criteria might look at is your use case or your potential opportunity. automatable. For example, as we talked about, is it transactional? Is it repeatable, or, you know, is the process that you want to automate, for example, structured and and what type of data is coming into them? And then when you think about automation, and its process readiness, how standardized is the process for which you might want to automate? Finally, when you think about automation, and in a framework of making these decisions about how to apply it? What’s that ease of implementation of the technology? There are many, many times where you may consider using automation, but you need to weigh the benefits and costs of the automation with what you’re trying to achieve. Which really gets back to thinking about this as a value framework. will ultimately this automation, reduce costs increase speed? Are you going to improve quality and accuracy? I mean, we are in our industry thinking about compliance and quality all the time, will you improve efforts? So all of this ties into a framework that drives your ability to think about your technologies in automation? And it helps you think about prioritization as well.
Rishi Ohri. 07:21
Yep, absolutely. And I think all of us try to struggle we struggle with the whole, how do we demonstrate ROI for the investments that we’re making. And I’ve always felt that automation is a great example to showcase the true benefits of technology, and really reinvesting people’s time into more more value added activities. So interesting APR and so many more applications and opportunities, that we can apply automation with even different interests industries, including Pharma. Specifically, if I think about pharma and applications, you know, within pharma, we see a lot of potential activity with case processing with pharmacovigilance and other functions as well. We’ve mentioned chatbots, as well. But, you know, where specifically, do you do you see the application of automation, specifically within Medical Affairs and hoping you can also highlight some examples and key takeaways to our listeners today?
April Davis. 08:21
Yeah, pharmacovigilance is actually a sweet spot. But I’ll I’ll hold off on that, you know, particular to Medical Affairs, which I feel very passionate about because of the sisterhood between medical PV and commercial, thinking about the framework that I outline just before the benefits and on automate ability. You know, we think about Medical Affairs, you know, Field Medical, MI, ATR and publications. When you think about what’s advantageous, right, what are some key areas that are advantageous? Certainly intake management and K Well, interactions, right? Those are key areas right off the top where you can begin to think about the benefits and the value, especially with what Medical Affairs tries to achieve in its discipline, when you think about areas where there may not be benefit, and perhaps maybe it’s, you know, automatable publication planning and content development, yes, there are certainly ways where RPA and even advanced, cognitive RPA might assist in those areas. But you begin to think about what value would you achieve with applying those technologies? And so those are sort of four examples of, you know, both where we might see high benefit versus low benefit. What’s really interesting with regards to Medical Affairs, in terms of fields getting back to field is how can we interact with field better and our patients and the community communication there and maybe it’s not content but maybe is different types of advanced artificial intelligence that’s being employed to work with field reps, etc. So those are some examples in in the Medical Affairs space, and what’s near and dear to me in the pharmacovigilance space, and there’s a connection with medical, you think about signal detection and analytics, and really thinking beyond the scope of pure RPA. And how this might be able to work not only from the pure pharmacovigilance, or post market sense, but imagine, if you will, the connection of applying these technologies with medical and commercial as well. And then you start to draw up a more of a value matrix, cross functionally within within a pharma organization.
Rishi Ohri. 10:49
That’s, that’s so interesting April. And I like your example for the field. For one example that I was going to share was, if you think about the interaction that the MSL has with the HCP, and the different aspects and data formats and data sources that exist both internally and externally with, you know, who’s who’s tweeting on Twitter, who’s, who’s publishing, who’s, who’s posting to you, these are all sources of information. And as an MSL, you want to have all of that information at your fingertips curated for you in a way that will essentially improve the interaction that you’re having. And I think I think automation has a huge role in that and opportunity. So again, thank you for some great examples and takeaways, and just going into some of our last few questions, and we’re already near the end of the podcast. But, you know, April, if you were just starting out on your digital transformation journey, and you wanted to embed automation in your roadmap, where would you start? Where would you begin? And where would you find places to maximize return on your investment? Also, you know, potentially what areas might we want to avoid? And promise. Last question, can you recommend any resources or help or guidance to the community to learn more about automation, and also the value that it can bring into the organization?
April Davis. 12:18
Yeah, I’ll start off from the first question. And I also wanted to kind of bring it home that, you know, Medical Affairs, they tend to be the gatekeeper for the provision of services for patients and HCPs, as we talk about. And so when you think about focusing on the patient, Medical Affairs is really at the hub of that. And so to answer the question about where do you start? And I’m going to start with that question. It starts with the patient. And I think, you know, in industry, we we’ve certainly put that out there starting with the patient. But medical plays a key role when you look across the different functional areas within an organization. But starting out and focusing on the patient, perhaps HCPs. And certainly, those those services, leveraging a framework to to engage your stakeholders, and really come to the decisions about the value based framework I talked about is very important. If you start with a framework that leads you to define that roadmap, perhaps with a guiding principle of patients at the center, you’ll find it a good path to take to make your investments as we’ve talked about, and begin to deploy proof of concepts along the way. Without a value based framework, it becomes a little challenging to prove points, and actually demonstrating value against the patient case as well. Finally, you know, I think with regards to, you know, community links or areas where people can find research, certainly within the MAPS organization, I find it really useful that people have a centralized area to go to for a lot of information, certainly around this space. But there are a ton of publications like websites out there and publications that certainly serve out for research and education in pure automation but also in the life sciences community, both public and certainly sponsored communities out there. That would be happy to offer up at a future time.
Rishi Ohri. 14:35
Thanks, April and such great tips and guidance and it’s it’s really amazing to hear your viewpoints on all of this and starting with the patient at the center of it is really great advice. I do want to give give you April big thanks for being our speaker today. This has really been the first podcast in a series on this topic, automation opportunities for Medical Affairs. As in our next podcast, we will discuss some opportunities and automation at Astellas with our head of information systems. So I’m looking forward to that discussion. And lastly, if you are a MAPS member, thank you for your support of MAPS. If you’re not yet a MAPS member, and we’d like to access to additional resources in this area, please do visit the MAPS website and explore joining today at MedicalAffairs.org/membership. This concludes our podcast.