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Together beyond COVID-19 – A look at the future


*Corresponding author
1. PharmaLex
2. Ernst & Young 


The year 2020 has been challenging. COVID-19 struck, causing a global crisis, and people worldwide were forced to adapt to the new normal brought on by the pandemic. The current situation has affected industries differently, benefiting some and disrupting, even sidelining, others. 

In a short time, COVID-19 has increased our dependency on technology. Companies are actively investigating the role of digital transformation. In developing digital strategies, the focus must be on increasing efficiency while minimizing risk. When adopting new technologies, it is important to have a clear strategy in place. This process will require more efforts in terms of change of management skills because, at its core, digital transformation is all about people. It requires the system composed of people and technology to be well organized and aligned for the future. Consequently, COVID-19 has been a catalyst for innovation and digital transformation.

To understand the challenges that the pharmaceutical industry faces during COVID-19, open-ended interviews were conducted with top pharmaceutical companies around Europe. The methodology followed during the interviews was semi-restrictive using a general outline of questions that leaded to other topics based on the spontaneous response of the interviewees but always in relation to the general topic: COVID19 and digital transformation. Some of the companies interviewed were Roche, AstraZeneca, Cinfa, Neuraxpharm, Amryt Pharma, Almirall, Alcala Pharma, and Dompé amongst several other pharmaceutical companies. As a result of the interviews, meaningful qualitative data was collected. This paper summarizes the main highlights, together with the future vision.


Digitalization is causing upheaval. Since COVID-19 hit, companies have been forced to upgrade their systems and learn how to facilitate employees working from home. This change, which was projected to occur in the next 5-10 years, has happened over a matter of months. During this pandemic, the use of digital health has become more popular amongst physicians as many patients do not feel as safe going to doctor appointments in person as they did before COVID-19. In addition, virtual medicine has been crucial in reducing the spread of the virus and the pressure on emergency rooms (1). Before COVID-19, the percentage of patients using remote consultation was very low (only 6%) (2).

However, digital health has gained momentum, and at least 19% of consultations are expected to continue remotely after the pandemic subsides (Source: Statista).


Pharmaceutical companies have also considered digitalization as an opportunity to improve their business models. It provides a new potential stakeholder journey that enables them to communicate directly with clients. During the pandemic, many pharmaceutical co ...

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