Pharma must step boldly forward

The project will inspire people with what’s possible, build a community, and explore the barriers.

New players are entering the life sciences who aren’t afraid to think big to disrupt the system. We need to do the same.

We need the ability to determine our own future – by creating it, rather than having to respond to what others do.

How can the pharma industry address a lack of confidence and launch big, innovative ideas? We hear from Katrine Bach, CEO of Anthill, about a new initiative that aims to help pharma play its part in a rapidly-changing healthcare environment.

What is BOLDpharma?

Just launched, BOLDpharma is an initiative that isn’t scared to think big. It aims to take the bold, innovative spirit that is applied daily in clinical research to all areas where pharma acts and interacts with HCPs and patients. Specifically, the project will seek to inspire people with what’s possible, build a community of like-minded individuals, and explore the barriers to action – all the while demonstrating practical steps to take.

BOLDpharma, which is being supported by pharmaphorum, was initiated by the digital agency Anthill, together with key industry figures. It begins by addressing the lack of confidence that the industry has sometimes shown, and which makes it hard to launch big ideas that create real change.

Support from pharma

“As an industry, we need to be bolder if we are to continue leading the way in innovating for patients,” said Marc Princen, Executive Vice President and President Allergan International, who is supporting the initiative. “The healthcare environment is changing around us. There are new players entering the life sciences who aren’t afraid to think big to disrupt the system. We need to do the same – and we need confident, bold-thinking people who will drive the industry’s focus on innovating for patients for years to come.”

We interviewed Katrine Bach, Anthill CEO, about the BOLDpharma initiative:

What brought about the BOLDpharma project?

“Quite simply, we felt that there was a need for it. When we’re at conferences, we hear a lot of frustration about why things aren’t changing. There are even a few voices claiming that the industry may be incapable of working in new ways. And so BOLDpharma exists to respond to these feelings and enable change to happen more quickly.

“As a digital agency, we’re also keen for companies to make better use of technologies and work in new ways. We have some frustrations too! There are very real opportunities that aren’t being taken right now.

“At a conference recently, we heard a speaker from IBM say that pharma was ‘ripe for disruption’. Disruption means fundamentally changing the business environment. So, the need to act bolder is the ability to determine our own future – by creating it, rather than having to respond to what others do.”

The first step you are taking is the BOLDpharma survey. Why is this so important?

“Firstly, it helps identify what is really holding people back. Is it internal culture or external environment and regulations? It’s obvious, but we have to understand the problems before we can start providing answers.

“The survey also helps people benchmark. How do you know where you stand compared to your peers? Are you ahead, somewhere in the middle, or playing catch up? That’s why, once people take the survey, they get a report that shows how their organisation compares in its use of technology and overall digital competencies.”

What happens next?

“In the coming months, we’ll start to publish the BOLDpharma survey data. This is the aggregated data for the industry overall. We’ll start to see the fundamental problems and then, together with our partners, we can work on solutions.

“Let’s say that internal company culture turns out to be a major obstacle. That then brings up some very specific questions. How do you create a culture that allows people to run with initiatives that they believe in – even if there is a risk of failure? What can be done by companies to better support employees with innovative ideas – especially people that are not in senior management positions?

“In other words, we’ll start to address some of the barriers – working with our industry partners to provide practical answers.”

Will pharma succeed in becoming bolder in its approach?

“We have to because the market and the world-at-large is changing. But it’s a question of degree – how far and how fast will pharma go? Will it be leading or doing the bare minimum? If it is the bare minimum, that’s a problem because it opens the space for other players to act.

“Overall, I think that there are reasons to be optimistic. While examples are only emerging now, many companies do indeed seem ready to work in different ways – and are now looking to be inspired. And that’s a big part of the BOLDpharma project.”

Three bold ideas

Want to see what’s possible? Check out these ground-breaking projects from around the world:

Take the first step

As mentioned, the first major BOLDpharma project is an industry-wide survey that gives people a voice to better understand the factors that are holding pharma back in its use of new technologies.

Once you take the survey, and a minimum viable level of responses is reached, data visualisations and insights will be made available to the people who took part. These ‘live’ results will continue to update as more responses are included in the data set. Of course, all insights will be aggregated and therefore your response is anonymous.

You can also get involved in the movement and add your voice to the discussion on twitter, @BOLDpharma or by visiting the BOLDpharma website.

Read more about Anthill and its philosophy in the Company Spotlight pages of this edition of Deep Dive: Future Pharma 2018.


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