Automation Is Here To Stay… Hip Hip Hooray!

Instead of lamenting the rise of automation, we should be championing it at every turn

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” So said Winston Churchill, who noted that persistence was not a universal quality amongst his peers. “Never give up.”

The problem is, humans are ill-prepared to approach a situation for the hundredth or millionth time without at least facing some dip in performance. The answer is automation, a growing trend in digital investments and one which has recently entered the pharmaceutical industry. Computers can try and try again, with just as much fervor as with the first attempt.

Despite this obvious advantage, when we think of automation, our mind often jumps immediately to the uglier side. Fueled by the storylines in countless dystopian movies where robots ‘take over the human race’, or at the very least displace human workers, automation enters the political crosshairs as a primary cause of job losses. But this view is woefully short-sighted and, in most cases, incorrect.

Automation frees up manpower and resources to focus on innovation, which has the cyclical effect of creating new jobs and revenue streams, a situation which has been true of every agricultural or industrial revolution of the past.

Within the healthcare industry, it has become a lifeline. Biotech companies are challenged to deliver new medicines quicker and at a lower cost. At the same time, compliance, and pharmacovigilance costs are increasing exponentially. The Everest Group, a leading research house, identifies automation as mankind’s foremost solution to these challenges.

Robotic process automation (RPA) is now more advanced than earlier business process automation tools because its software “robots” act in a more human-like manner: extracting, sorting, sharing, and consuming information, often across various (otherwise unconnected) IT systems and data analysis silos. And rather than fuelling fears of a robotic armageddon, leading players like Automation Anywhere place their focus onaugmenting rather than replacing human capabilities within biotech.  

Step 1: Cognitive Automation as a competitive strategy.
Automation Anywhere believes biotech companies can benefit from RPA to have better cognitive insight for making decisions faster. With the increasing pressure to deliver operational efficiencies, biotech leaders can use cognitive automation to integrate multiple sources of vast volumes of data for evaluation and insights. Automating highly repetitive manual processes will accelerate the time-to-value and unlock the human workforce to focus on more creative, critical business-centric activities. Indeed, those companies adopting robotics, process digitization, operational excellence, and machine learning will find themselves differentiated through the insights and efficiencies gained, something which RPA has been proven to deliver through its relatively low cost and ease of implementation.

Step 2: What is RPA and how does it work for biotech?
Innovative biotech and biopharma companies are already using RPA with the goal of creating employee work satisfaction, new discoveries and fiscal prosperity. Importantly, frontrunners are seeing the most gains when RPA is integral to their broader strategy for digital transformation, because wholesale digital deployment automates critical functions within finance, HR, IT, clinical trial studies, and regulatory areas. For example, cognitive automation can help extract valuable information from forms and convert it into a usable format, making decision-making easier.

Step 3: Can RPA improve what humans do best?
Large pharmaceutical and biotech companies handle 100,000s adverse events per year and have many staff managing a highly manual tracking process. Leading companies, like AstraZeneca, are rapidly adopting RPA to manage the high volume of manual processes to improve response times and job satisfaction from the safety teams worldwide. The clear advantages to RPA are both speed and consistency in data entry, data analysis, quality control, and audit readiness in activities including clinical, regulatory, safety, and lab operations. A faster process also delivers market advantage of avoiding delays and reassigning the human workforce to higher value activities related to core research and drug development. By adding RPA to key clinical processes, we are enabling biotech and pharma companies to bring safe and effective drugs to the market at a lower cost–enabling people to live longer healthier lives.

Case Study 1: RPA delivers vigor and accuracy for Boston Scientific.
RPA is transforming lives through innovative medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the globe. For example, Boston Scientific has powered up cognitive automation to maximize efficiency. This has resulted in $240K savings with smart bots for life sciences. More than 50 processes have been automated for forms and invoices in primary care hospitals, nursing homes, and in-home healthcare providers. Error-free handling of medical data has always been essential, and now by enabling processes to run consistently–Boston Scientific has also increased its productivity and accuracy.

Case study 2: RPA helps Becton Dickinson amplify human ambition.
Automation systems are also helping humans at Becton Dickinson with a passion for healing to expand their abilities. Automated processes can amplify human cognitive strength. Automated processes are modernizing the entire workforce (65,000 staff) including finance, procurement, HR, IT, R&D, and more, providing up to an 89% reduction in cycle time.

The future of life sciences is hyper-connected
Cognitive insight, speed, and accuracy are what makes RPA unique to life sciences. Biotech and biopharma when enhanced by RPA, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are delivering unprecedented business insights, bringing to light new potential to restructure the industry for greater life sciences discoveries and profitability.

How to transform a process from 10 days to 2 hours
Is it possible to build an innovative, more profitable health and wellness future faster with cognitive automation and RPA? Key is to take a systematic approach from assessment to implementation with these four steps:

  • 1) Discovery: We suggest the first step involves targeting a few processes, conduct process mapping, and creating an opportunity of where RPA can deliver time and cost savings.
  • 2) Assessing the right RPA partnership: Business leaders should consider Automation Anywhere – the market leader in RPA to transform your business and shape the future of work.
  • 3) Establishing strategy for breakthrough success: This step includes having a clear vision for detailed use cases, user personas, quantitative and qualitative benefits models, journey mapping, and change management plan.
  • 4) Implementation: Switching on robotic process automation and cognitive intelligence to free up your employees to focus on higher-value work. Deploy RPA across business areas to expand return on investment.


17th annual eyeforpharma Philadelphia (Commercial, Digital and Patients)

Apr 16, 2019 - Apr 17, 2019, Philadelphia

800+ pharma leaders join together to discuss how to revolutionize the patient experience – and, accordingly, their commercial performance.