In its annual results briefing in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis emphasised the integration of digital and data into the way the company works, claiming to be spending ‘in the 100s of millions’ on collating its ‘goldmine’ of more than two million patient years of clinical trial data.

With around 250 data scientists working within the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), the Swiss drug maker says it plans to revolutionise the way data is used to effectively treat patients, through techniques such as managing more than 500 clinical trials from its Sense control room in Basel, and a partnership with the Big Data Institute (BDI) - an alliance using artificial intelligence to understand complex diseases and improve drug development.

Development in the world of digitalising healthcare is already underway, with Novartis’ division Sandoz and Pear Therapeutics having launched the first and only FDA authorised prescription digital therapeutic, ReSET back in November 2018.

ReSET is a 12 week prescription digital therapeutic to be used in conjunction with outpatient clinician-delivered care, which was found to significantly improve abstinence in substances of abuse and treatment retention, compared to standard of care alone.

The successful results from the digital therapeutic sets a standard for the future of care, one that will aim to revolutionise the treatment of unmet medical needs such as depression and Alzheimer’s.

Vas Narasimhan, chief executive of Novartis, commented that the “overall company culture is being transformed” by the use of digital and data, further commenting on the results from the briefing:

“In 2018 we reimagined Novartis. We took major steps to becoming a medicines company that focuses its capital on developing, launching and creating global access to breakthrough medicines. Together with delivering strong accretive growth, we also advanced our strategic priorities including building new advanced therapy platforms, ramping up productivity and digital efforts, and creating a new culture.”