In the last few years, the international life sciences landscape has changed dramatically. In Ireland, the industry is still as important as ever to the economy, of course, because it’s home to 18 of the world’s top 20 pharma companies, directly employs over 50,000 people and has the largest cluster of medical device companies in Europe. “For a small country, we punch well beyond our weight,” says Tim Cotter, Head of Life Sciences, Business Consulting Grant Thornton.

Ireland is home to 18 of the world's top 20 pharmaceutical companies.

The difference now is that the pharmaceutical industry is rapidly moving towards patient centricity as a business model - a change that has been dictated by the healthcare payer and the patient, who are looking for a more concentrated focus on value and more positive outcomes. “There has been what is termed a ‘value versus volume’ revolution,” says Elaine Daly, Partner, Head of Business Consulting, Grant Thornton.
“Previously, the emphasis in the industry was simply on the production of drugs. Now it has to consider the whole of the patient’s health. This means that companies need to focus on early intervention and integrated care. They have to be more connected in terms of the way they design and develop products, such as apps which can make an individual’s health information easier to access and promote self-monitoring. Organisations now have to be more agile in responding to changing market conditions and patient demands - whether that’s at research stage or at a development stage - to make sure they are fulfilling patient needs at all times.”

Cultural shift

To do this effectively, pharma companies need to make a complete cultural shift in terms of their structure. “At an operation level, they have to assess how they attract the right talent and the right leadership in order to motivate their salesforce and embed this new patient-focussed emphasis into their organisational culture,” says Daly. “This means having people on board who can understand the patients’ needs from a drug perspective and also from a non-drugs perspective.” On a strategic level, it’s important to put systems in place to manage change and implement the required strategy to ensure your organisation can succeed in its shift toward patient centricity.

"Pharmas need people on board who understand patients' needs from a drug perspective and from a non-drugs perspective"

“This is a hyper-competitive industry,” says Cotter. “Any company that doesn’t embrace changing trends and changing models is going to get left behind.” Grant Thornton are ideally positioned to assist organisations in the Life Sciences sector to cope with such changes as they possess international expertise which can be leveraged to the national market across a broad range of service lines to shape a new culture including changing business models and structures and adopting new approaches to patient centered leadership and service delivery.

This isn’t going to switch any time soon, either. “In the next three to five years, the industry trend will continue further towards patient-centred outcomes,” says Cotter. “I also think we’ll see significant development in the area of connected solutions and value add wraparound services for patients, particularly in terms of medical devices and tracking applications through the use of mobile technology such as smart phones and tablets. This means patients are going to become more involved in remedies and solutions regarding their own healthcare, in conjunction with their healthcare provider. It’s a very exciting time.”

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