Life Support

Few businesses have as specialized a set of technology needs as those in the life sciences sector. The combination of large amounts of data, huge product development costs, patient safety requirements and intense regulatory control makes it critical for these companies to have the IT resources needed to meet a varied and closely monitored set of business processes.

To ensure that they can make the most of their data, produce safe medicines and devices that conform to regulations, and maintain a feedback loop with the doctors and hospitals using their products, life sciences companies have been taking some important steps to shore up their technology.

Business intelligence applications, for example, enable companies to wade through vast reservoirs of data on everything from drug discovery and safety analysis to prescribing habits. BI is proving especially useful in pharmaceutical companies’ efforts to determine how best to target physicians—a process that requires pulling data on doctors’ historical prescription trends (what they prescribe and how they prescribe)—and how to most effectively influence them.

“It’s way too complex to do without a good BI application,” says Eric Newmark, research manager at Health Industry Insights, a unit of research firm IDC.

Life sciences companies are adapting key business applications to fit their very specific business process environments, ensuring that these general technologies are configured to enable staff and regulators to easily investigate issues and how they were addressed. “It’s an industry that takes what’s been proven and adapts it to its needs,” says Jim Macdonell, vice president of solutions delivery for consulting firm Patni’s life sciences unit.

Here’s how two life sciences companies are reaping the benefits of such IT efforts.