Kathleen O’Brien reflects on the wider considerations of a digital drug development and health management ecosystem that straddles international boundaries

The prioritisation of process digitalisation during the COVID-19 pandemic is one of a number of positive developments to have emerged from this challenging period in people’s lives and for the life sciences industry. With so many traditional interactions disrupted, reliance on digital channels for conducting consultations, managing treatments and measuring outcomes has been both inevitable and, in many cases, welcome. It has allowed many services to continue, and it has highlighted the multiple benefits of digital health, paving the way for a future in which manual processes and a lack of end-to- end insight will hopefully play an ever-decreasing part.

Over the last 18-24 months, circumstances and innovative thinking has led to the transformation of a whole range of scenarios harnessing the latest technology and digital information flows. These have spanned everything from patient engagement and recruitment, to continuous health monitoring and remote treatment, using smart medical devices linked to apps or online portals.

Inspired and encouraged by the benefits this has brought, life sciences companies must now lean into that trend – especially as healthcare markets continue to plan for the new normal and the part that remote care and monitoring will continue to play in ongoing treatment models.

This is a global opportunity, too. One of the pandemic’s striking effects has been its universal impact and disruption of ways of doing things, so the scope for multiplying the benefits of associated innovation internationally should not be overlooked.

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