Janssen UK & Ireland managing director, Gaëtan Leblay, discusses digitalisation and innovation in the pharmaceutical industry and what this means for patients
Over the past decade, digitalisation of the pharmaceutical sector has progressed steadily1. Automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning offer swift clinical data collection and analysis, and the streamlining of administrative tasks that can release time for crucial research. In the past two years, we have all seen the step change that has occurred in healthcare and almost every other aspect of our lives.
I am a passionate proponent of digital transformation and regularly advocate for the value of data and innovation in healthcare. But while the advances we see today are exciting, we must remember that they cannot exist in a vacuum. Janssen UK’s digital strategy, as a cornerstone of our business, recognises this point first and foremost. To this end, we have created an ecosystem of trusted partners that consistently create and deliver digital propositions. Together, our goal is to create value through collaboration, and deliver our joint industry goal to ultimately improve patient treatment and outcomes.
The next few years will see the ongoing ripple effect of the pandemic’s surge toward digitalisation2. Pharmaceutical companies are in a strong position to guide this innovation in a patient-centric direction.
Janssen’s innovation pipeline
At Janssen, we remain committed to a patient-first approach to innovation and have been developing and implementing our digital strategy for the past few years. Guided by our credo, we continue to recognise our first responsibility is to the people we serve. In every project we undertake, we look to innovate with purpose, to create change, and improve outcomes for patients and staff. To better understand our role and application of technology, we first ask the question: how will it improve patient outcomes?
This thinking led to the creation of our own J&J Innovation Centres. These hubs – based in the UK, US and China – identify, develop and accelerate early-stage science to solve the greatest unmet healthcare needs of our time3. The centres act as collaborative hubs where entrepreneurs and scientists can develop treatments, technologies and products that directly benefit the patient – and have seen tangible, promising results.
Beyond these centres, Janssen’s digital pipeline has yielded real technological innovation that is already being integrated into our processes – one of the most exciting being an augmented reality (AR) application for patients.
AR in action
When we look at the current landscape, a key area for improvement in both the US and Europe is adherence to treatment, which across disease areas and patient groups is still suboptimal4. Improved understanding of how such treatments work could make a difference and at Janssen we decided to tackle this challenge in a new way.
An example of this application of new technology is using AR to support patients with their administration of treatments; specifically an interactive AR experience, users of our app can view the treatment and the application instructions virtually, while also accessing further information for correct device usage. The app not only provides insights on device functionality, supporting adherence, but it can also encourage increased engagement between healthcare professionals (HCPs) and their patients.
Many industries are touting the use of AR; sometimes it feels as though we are talking ‘ambition’ versus ‘reality’. I believe that applying AR to tackle real-world problems and education will help empower patients to take greater control of their treatment and, in the longer term, hopefully improve outcomes.
AR is a promising new tool driving positive change for HCPs and patients alike and I look forward to seeing how it will continue to advance the patient experience. In the meantime, we are also pursuing many other avenues to explore how this technology can be used in furthering medical education.
Crowd solving for patient resources
As technology continues to improve, at Janssen, we are ensuring these developments are harnessed into everyday processes, so we are able to focus our time and resources on projects that make the biggest difference to the lives of patients and their families. With that in mind, we recently reassessed a time-intensive process within the business – the review of educational content used by HCPs and patients.
As the proliferation of digital channels and content continues, reviewers have been facing increased demand to approve materials at a faster pace and on a larger scale. We partnered with Ernst & Young to develop Smart Reviewer, an AI-powered functionality that would streamline our content review process. The integration of AI allows for the swift identification of language or factual errors, and flags information that must be validated. Not only does this reduce review timelines while maintaining quality standards, it also allows for further efficiencies for the reviewer and frees up time that can, in turn, be applied to other complex tasks. Digital innovation that seemingly occurs invisibly, while still bringing out benefits, is still worth celebrating.
Another way we’re looking to supercharge our patient content is via MED Select, a platform that supports the rapid creation of personalised content and patient education resources, to empower patients by providing relevant information tailored to them. MED Select also allows HCPs to develop individually selected resources. Together with our AR solution, these smart materials support patients in taking a proactive role to help manage their condition and to encourage more effective conversations with HCPs.
Developing a partnership ecosystem
Janssen’s data and digital vision is bolstered by the infrastructure of strong tech and thought leadership partners. To enable our strategy, it is critical that we continue to source talented, experienced leaders – whether they are a part of the pharmaceutical industry or from unrelated sectors facing similar challenges.
Janssen’s strategic partnerships include several world-leading pioneers in digital innovation, from Amazon Web Services to Rolls Royce Data Labs: each with a vision to help us solve business challenges with AI and data-driven solutions. Janssen is also part of the Rolls Royce residency, an incubation group of industry leaders collaborating to solve shared problems. This means we are guided by its Aletheia framework – a toolkit to ensure ethics and trustworthiness in AI – so that as our technology develops, data safety and security are equally focused all along the journey.
As the pharmaceutical industry moves inevitably towards a digitised world, I wholeheartedly believe that we must ensure new innovations work for everyone: for the people in our organisation and, more importantly, for patients and their families. Fortunately, the broader industry is already heading in this direction. I am inspired by the efforts underway at Janssen in championing a collaborative drive to reimagine technology in new ways and evolving healthcare to new levels.
For more information please visit janssen.com/uk
- Hermes S, Riasanow T, Clemons EK, et al. The digital transformation of the healthcare industry: exploring the rise of emerging platform ecosystems and their influence on the role of patients. Bus Res 2020;13:1033–1069
- Furtner, D, Shinde, SP, Singh, M, et al. Digital Transformation in Medical Affairs Sparked by the Pandemic: Insights and Learnings from COVID-19 Era and Beyond. Pharm Med 2022;36:1–10
- Innovation Centers; nurturing the global innovation ecosystem. Available at: https://jnjinnovation.com/innovation-centers
[Last accessed: July 2022]
- Medication nonadherence: medicine’s weakest link? Available at: https://www.wolterskluwer.com/-/media/project/wolterskluwer/oneweb/www/health/division/insights/2020/medication-nonadherence-infographic.pdf [Last accessed: July 2022]
EM-105676, July 2022
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