This article originally appeared in Bio-IT World
Content and data in the biopharmaceutical industry are complex and growing at an exponential rate. Terabytes from research and development, testing, lab reports, and patients reside in sources such as databases, emails, scientific publications, and medical records. Information that could be crucial to research can be found in emails, videos, recorded patient interviews, and social media.
Extracting usable information from what’s available represents a tremendous opportunity, but the sheer volume presents a challenge as well. Add to that challenge the size of biopharmaceutical companies, with tens of thousands of R&D experts often distributed around the world, and the plethora of regulations that the industry must adhere to—and it’s difficult to see how anyone could bring all of that content and data together to make sense of it.
Information instrumental to developing the next blockbuster drug might be hidden anywhere, buried in a multitude of silos throughout the organization.
Companies that leverage automation to sift through all their content and data, in all its complexity and volume, to find relevant information have an edge in researching and developing new drugs and conducting clinical trials.
This is simply not a task that can be tackled by humans alone—there is just too much to go through. And common keyword searches are not enough, as they won’t tell you that a paper is relevant if the search terms don’t appear in it, or if a video has the answer unless the keywords are in the metadata of the video.
Today, companies can get help from insight engines, which leverage a combination of sophisticated indexing, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing for linguistic and semantic analyses to identify what a text is about, look for synonyms and extract related concepts. Gartner notes that insight engines, “enable richer indexes, more complex queries, elaborated relevancy methods, and multiple touchpoints for the delivery of data (for machines) and information (for people).” A proper insight engine does this at speed, across languages, and in all kinds of media.
For biopharmaceuticals, this is particularly powerful, allowing them to correlate and share research in all forms over widely distributed research teams. Here are several ways biopharma companies can use insight engines to accelerate their research.
Find A Network Of Experts
Many companies struggle to create the best teams for new projects because expertise is hidden in large, geographically-distributed organizations with multiple divisions. A drug repositioning project might require a range of experts on related drugs, molecules, and their mechanisms of action, medical experts, geneticists, and biochemists. Identifying those experts within a vast organization can be challenging. But insight engines can analyze thousands of documents and other digital artifacts to see who has experience with relevant projects.
The technology can go further, identifying which experts’ work is connected. If they appear together in a document, interact within a forum, or even communicate significantly via email, an insight engine can see that connection and deduce that the work is related. Companies can then create an “expert graph” of people whose work intersects to build future teams.
This technique can extend beyond the borders of the company, helping to identify the most promising collaboration partners outside the company in a given field, based on publicly available data, such as trial reports, patent filings and reports from previous collaboration projects.
Generate R&D News Alerts
Biopharma companies can also use insight engines to watch for new developments in drug research and stay on top of the latest trends. These news alerts can go beyond typical media sources to include scientific publications, clinical trial reports, and patent filings.
This capability can be used on SharePoint, Documentum, or other sources within a large company to surface relevant information. An insight engine ensures the right information gets to the right people in the right context, and in a timely way.
Optimize Clinical Trials
Clinical trials that stretch over many years generate millions of datasets for every drug and study provide a treasure trove of data. Biostatisticians can ensure they get a comprehensive list of patients having certain diseases within trials on a drug, something nearly impossible with traditional methods.
They can also search and analyze across many drugs and studies, across content and data silos. Over time, this allows biopharmaceutical companies’ growing number of clinical trials to become a valuable asset that can be easily leveraged across a growing number of use cases.
All of these uses can lead to biopharma companies developing new drugs more quickly and getting them to market faster—necessary as these companies face tremendous pressure to innovate quickly and develop new promising drugs as patents for older drugs expire. With insight engines, they can make every part of the journey more efficient, from research, to clinical trials, to regulatory processes, presenting incredible opportunities for everyone in this field.