Cloud Journey - The Evolutionary Paradigm for Life Sciences

By Suhita Ghatak Mar 2, 2022

Moderna was able to deliver the first clinical batch of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate for phase 1 trials in just 42 days. They were able to pivot their priorities due to the agility of their cloud infrastructure.

Digitization is responsible for shortening the product life cycle, increasing efficiency, adding scalability and fueling higher customer expectations. Such ever-increasing expectations percolate even to life science companies. Customers now expect smoother access to information about the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of diseases or ailments for adequate prevention. 

For life sciences organizations, meeting these expectations poses a double-edged challenge. They are required to continue providing better experiences for their patients, as well as ensuring high security compliance.  

Life science companies need to digitize, right now

Cloud technology has aged well and by and large penetrated all domains and industries. Of all them, the life science sector is ripe with opportunities for cloud adoption. Many life science companies have already recognized that digital transformation is the way forward in today’s digitized ecosystem. However, their efforts to modernize their systems are more superficial than authentic. 

The transition to modernize from the core is rather sluggish because life science companies are unsure of this giant leap. Lack of knowledge, misguided strategy, faulty implementation, inability to identify the value drivers are some of the potent factors that discourage life science companies to move to the cloud. 

Therefore, most IT executives encounter a major roadblock to build a compelling business case for initiating cloud adoption in their organization. Instances like organizations facing delays in their migration journey or reaping fewer benefits than expected, only add to the dilemma.

Navigating data protection, compliance and security is another ball game. Additionally for many organizations, the ability to meet data management requirements and process latency-sensitive workloads to occur locally, is critical. The regulations on data storage can also require some data and workloads to remain on-premises. 

Lack of a skilled workforce to make this move is another hurdle. Cloud migration calls for a 360-degree shift from acquainted, traditional legacy systems to a modern architecture built on the latest technology stacks. Thus, it requires expertise to delegate a smooth transition and is a making or breaking factor of this migration. 

Finding or hiring such talent in-house isn’t always feasible. Concurrently, life science companies are hesitant to look for a technology partner on account of high compliance requirements.

Cloud migration: the digital revolution life science companies need

However, the current situation is forcing life science companies to think beyond their limitations. It has catalyzed the need for adopting digitization and makes for a solid case with examples like Moderna. 

Beyond the pandemic, personalized medicine is another such area of rapid advancements due to the constant influx of personal health data via IoT devices. Additionally, the pharma and med-tech enterprises’ supply chain is also becoming a center of digital innovation with additive manufacturing and digital tracking of drugs throughout distribution; from the factory to the pharmacy.

It is safe to say that the cloud promises massive business-focussed benefits; right from aiding data-driven clinical and operational decisions to driving a competitive advantage to achieve research breakthroughs. Again, like in the case of Moderna, relying on software introduced the much-needed flexibility that positively impacts the time to market for innovative life-saving products.

Cloud adoption also benefits caregivers. Some of these benefits include: 

  • Monitoring and treatment devices ensure secure and continuous patient care, even from a distance
  • Constant collection of information about patient health also alleviates pressure on health contact centers
  • Empowering caregivers to collaborate easily with their onsite teams and stay connected from anywhere

Outsource capabilities, not responsibilities

Life Science companies need to make the digitization move, but cannot do it alone. From a distance, cloud infrastructure might seem extremely complex and difficult to wade through. But, with a partner who can understand the checks and balances they need, adopting cloud infrastructure is quick and easy. 

A KPMG survey among life science companies indicates that 85% of the respondents credit tech companies as the driving force of digitalization in their industry. While 63% envision a smooth cooperative partnership with tech companies to transform. Therefore, addressing the right questions and building a pragmatic migration strategy will help them embark on a smooth cloud adoption journey. 

A panel discussion at the Odyssey VC webinar about cloud migration for life science companies led to a concrete observation. Experts pointed out that moving to cloud can be a win-win for the organizations, if they equally participate with their technology partners. 

Certainly, it would be unrealistic to expect companies to know about every minute detail. But, organizations can mitigate the risk of cloud adoption by keeping in mind two important things:

  • Evaluate the risk and be inquisitive

    Good risk management is a key business functionality across sectors and is not limited to just compliance. Moving to the cloud is definitely a magnanimous step, so, this requires organizations to be curious and not assume what they don’t know. 

    Some of the important questions that organizations should prepare before embarking on the journey to find their cloud partners include:

    • What are the critical things that should be done right when moving my GXP data/process to the cloud?
    • How do I select an assessment for the cloud provider?
    • Who conducts supplier audits?
    • How to prepare and whom to involve?
  • Educate and communicate

    When businesses partner with a tech firm, they should educate themselves to chalk a well-researched outline about their needs like architecture, data flow, roles and responsibilities, access, etc. This establishes a clear communication and defines expectations, right at the beginning of the partnership. Building an SLA is one of the most important tools at your disposal. Some important questions to be raised include:

    • Where is my data stored?
    • What are the security practices in place?
    • What happens in case of potential risk?
    • What is the exit strategy in case of an incompatible/unsatisfactory collaboration? 

Migrating to cloud with Srijan

It is conclusive that moving to the cloud is no longer aspirational, but mandatory. The pandemic served as a wake-up call for life science companies to embark on their digitization journey. Of course, It certainly involves huge risks and costs to execute such a major shift. You need to select a partner who is ready and able to work with you, hand in glove. 

And this is exactly what we believe in at Srijan. Instead of a standardized, one-size-fits-all approach, we work closely with our clients to build a customized, viable solution that enables them to boldly embrace the digital future. To see what we can build for you, get in touch with us.

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