“Intelligent Automation is building momentum across various industries, and the prospect of a digital workforce being the new normal, is fast becoming reality. Having had first-hand experience of the transformation across the financial industry, Intelligent Automation is already changing the workforce landscape across many of the large organisations, and the same principle is being implemented across the pharma industry. It is no longer a case of will it happen but that it is already happening…
Last year, the International Society of Pharmacovigilance held a thought provoking seminar – Intelligent Automation in Pharmacovigilance. Offering a unique, highly focused, scientific and interactive two-day event, hosted by Biogen at the Biogen Auditorium in Boston, Cambridge. 30 speakers across the pharma and technology services industry, were invited to speak on this hot topic, and the feedback gathered from the attendees at the seminar was very positive. Sparking some interesting, engaging and, at times, controversial debates during the open panel discussions. Due to popular demand, the seminar will be repeated later this year 2018.
Over the past couple of years, Intelligent Automation has been in the spotlight, with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) being one of the most talked about emerging technologies. But what is RPA? – RPA is a technology that uses the software to operate applications, allowing employees in a company to configure the computer software to execute tasks automatically. This technology captures the interaction between user and systems, to interpret existing applications for processing transactions, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems. And the robot is a software application, that replicates the actions of a human being, interacting with the user interface of a computer system. Currently, the RPA logic mainly being used is rule-based and the robot processes are most effective on high volume repetitive tasks.
The pharma industry is full of daily repetitive tasks, that are currently being executed manually, and these processes are ideal for being executed by RPA. There are many advantages for companies to adopt the use of this technology such as, RPA will enhance continuity – a robot process can cover 24 hours per day; 7 days per week; 365 days per year (the only exception is for system housekeeping and maintenance on the robot). This allows organisations the opportunity for repurposing staff on complex tasks that require in depth analysis and decision making, adding much greater value for the company. It will also strengthen overall job satisfaction, as employees should feel more engaged, working on new and challenging assignments, leading to less staff turnover. And reducing time spent recruiting, interviewing and hiring; relieving the additional strain on key subject matter experts having to laboriously train new joiners to the company, and decreasing the need for overtime hours. All these factors should consequently help to develop a strong stable workforce, by potentially achieving the most important aspect of a work-life balance. RPA also increases quality assurance and compliance for the company, through consistency – the robot will always follow a certain process flow and will not deviate from the specifications, producing a very detailed audit log of all the actions being executed, thus facilitating audit requirements.
One of the biggest benefits for using Intelligent Automation in pharmacovigilance is being able to process and analyse vast quantity of data. This can potentially equate to faster detection of safety issues, as opposed to the slower manual conventional methods. The volume and diversity of regulated safety data to be screened, compiled and analysed by regulators and licence holders has been steadily increasing over the years, and is anticipated to further increase, implying the need for resources to a problematic extent. Intelligent Automation has potential to provide much higher efficiency and, at the same time, can be more cost effective in the long run.
So, back to the original question: “Is Intelligent Automation a game changer?” Looking at how the future of technology is shaping, ultimately the organisations that embrace and harness the full capability of Intelligent Automation will be the ones that are still in the game.”
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