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Pharmaceutical companies have seen several new trends emerge as a result of COVID-19, however, four top trends standout among the rest.  To meet current challenges and to stay ahead, pharmaceutical companies are focused on enabling business agility, operational resilience, risk mitigation, and utilizing a remote and distributed workforce. 

McKinsey recently published an article, “Pharma Operations: The Path to Recovery and the Next Normal”, argues that these new trends are emerging now and are likely to continue after a recovery from COVID-19.

1. Business Agility

Pharmaceutical organizations must enable business agility and move faster than ever.  Business agility will likely be driven by digital automation and analytics. 

“Automating manufacturing processes and warehouses will also play an important role in the future, increasing data availability and, more importantly, decreasing a reliance on manpower.” – McKinsey

Digital solutions, such as Intellect QMS 4.0, will enable some key operational processes – such as auditing, procurement, customer complaints, nonconformances, corrective and preventative actions, document control, employee training, and product release cycles – to be done remotely and more efficiently. 

“More traditional pharmaceutical processes will shift to agile models that allow for expediting processes for future emergencies. These may include simplified medical-equipment approval, quality and risk-assessment processes for new material qualification and validation, remote monitoring for site quality audits, and more rapid adoption of electronic batch records.” – McKinsey

2. Risk Mitigation

Supply chains have been disrupted and, as a result, organizations are reconsidering their risk tolerance, the amount of control they need, and the geographic diversification of suppliers and contract manufacturers. 

“In the path to recovery, COVID-19 has increased the focus on risk management as companies reassess their supply-chain strategies and footprints to make them more agile and resilient to disruption.” – McKinsey

Pharmaceutical companies should consider how much excess capacity they will need and if they need dual sourcing strategies, especially considering lower risk countries.  For many pharmaceutical organizations, core centers of supply are located far from their demand.  Organizations may move some of their supply closer to end markets as they balance cost and risk.  

“In the aftermath of COVID-19, the intense focus on risk management across networks and supply chains will likely continue, despite the inevitable increased costs.” – McKinsey

3. Remote and Distributed Workforce

The shift to remote work will likely continue and, as a result, workforces will become more distributed over time as the right talent becomes accessible from anywhere.  Pharmaceutical companies will benefit from workforce agility, leveraging a leaner, more flexible, and more specialized talent pool.   

“The future of work will likely be remote and distributed, and new capabilities and talent will be needed now.” – McKinsey

As pharmaceutical companies leverage remote and distributed talent, digital tools will become even more critical for accessing and analyzing data, documentation, and reports.  Automation tools such as Intellect’s No-Code Platform empower non-technical workers to innovate, interpret quality data and collaborate remotely.

4. Changing Regulations

COVID-19 will likely change how governments and regulators play a role in pharmaceutical oversight.  The public is watching and more demanding, and increased regulatory attention should be expected.

“Intense public scrutiny, however, means governments and regulators could take a more proactive approach in a scenario where pharma companies may be perceived to be falling short.” – McKinsey.

Pharmaceutical organizations need digital tools and systems in place that can be easily modified to meet new and changing regulations.  For example, Intellect QM 4.0, offers extreme configurability due to Intellect’s underlying no-code platform that was designed for non-programmers.  With Intellect, pharmaceutical organizations can modify existing apps, build entirely new apps, generate new reports and analyze data, and provide accessibility based on unique permission requirements.   

Peter Hargittay

Written by Peter Hargittay

Peter Hargittay is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and VP of Corporate Development at Intellect. Peter is responsible for rebranding the company as Intellect from Interneer and for positioning the company for significant growth. Peter joined Intellect in 2013, and is responsible for corporate, product, and online marketing, business development through the Intellect partner channel, demand generation, sales enablement, and go-to-market strategies. Peter has more than 15 years of experience in building successful software and services businesses. Prior to Intellect, Peter served as the VP of Marketing and Sales Operations at Arise Virtual Solutions, and previously held executive marketing roles at Aegis, PeopleSupport, Intersil, and FileNet. Peter received both his BA in Economics and MBA from California State University, Fullerton.