Aside from ongoing and upcoming launches for Novartis, the company’s pharma president Paul Hudson is excited about a digital shakeup hitting the industry.
Aside from ongoing and upcoming launches for Novartis, the company’s pharma president Paul Hudson is excited about a digital shakeup hitting the industry. (Novartis) SAN FRANCISCO—Artificial intelligence is a big buzzword in R&D right now, but at Novartis, it’s hard at work in the sales department, too.
Amid far more meetings with digital companies at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference this year, Novartis’ pharma CEO Paul Hudson said he expects 2019 to be the “beginning of the tech disruption” for pharma, in everything from marketing to supply chain.
In past years at JPM, Hudson mainly checked out early-stage biotech companies for potential partnerships, he told FiercePharma. This year? It’s about half health-tech companies, he said. Free Daily Newsletter
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Obviously, Novartis is jumping right in, as part of CEO Vas Narasimhan’s push to transform the entire company using digital tech. In the field, the drugmaker has equipped salespeople with an AI service that suggests doctors to visit and subjects to talk up during their meetings.
The program’s “virtual assistant” helps salespeople “plan better, move better and make sure when they show up to see a healthcare professional, they are talking about the things that the healthcare professional is absolutely interested in,” Hudson said.
“When you turn up at the right time with the right things to say, they’re more interested and put more value in it, and our people like the fact that AI is running in the background helping them plan their day,” he added.
In the long run, the program will help the company become more efficient, Hudson said, also citing telemedicine and improved distribution systems as potential digital shakeups heading for the pharma industry.
Under Narasimhan, Novartis has placed a big emphasis on digital. The company in 2017 appointed Bertrand Bodson as its first chief digital officer. In March, the drugmaker teamed with Pear Therapeutics to create software applications to treat patients with schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis. The partners just launched an opioid addiction app this week.[…]