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An industry-first for AstraZeneca

Using technology to free up scientists’ time

Take rising price pressures and ever closer scrutiny of drug safety and efficacy, and you get pharmaceutical companies being forced to rethink how they operate.

Part of this is being creative in the way they optimise their processes. One such innovation is Robotic Process Automation (RPA), which uses software ‘robots’ to automate business processes.

We partnered with AstraZeneca to deliver a major productivity boost for its patient safety teams through an industry-first RPA solution – and in doing so set a precedent for increased automation across the whole industry.

Safety first

Each year, pharmaceutical companies receive hundreds of thousands of what are called ‘Adverse Event’ (AE) reports relating to their medicines (an AE is simply any untoward effect, sign or symptom associated with the use of a pharmaceutical product, which may or may not be related to the administered product). Following up with healthcare professionals to understand such reported events is a legal requirement, and a critical part of what pharma companies do to help regulators monitor the safety and efficacy of medicines. For AstraZeneca, in common with the pharmaceutical industry as a whole, this process was largely manual with lots of associated paperwork, including letters and emails to patients and physicians.

Our team advised AstraZeneca to consider RPA. The technology really comes into its own with routine, repetitive processes like this, mimicking what humans would do by following simple rules to make decisions. The benefits can be spectacular – RPA solutions typically save huge amounts of time, improve accuracy and allow staff to focus on activities that deliver greater value to customers. The twist in this case was that, as a regulatory compliance process, any RPA solution for automating AE follow-up would need to undergo full validation before deployment – something for which there was no industry precedent.

Rise of the robots boosts productivity (and job satisfaction)

Not only did the combined client/Deloitte team deliver this fully validated, industry-first RPA solution successfully for AstraZeneca – we did it in just six weeks.

“Deloitte worked with us and embraced our entrepreneurial mindset, we co-invested in the proof of concept, worked as one project team and we were willing to embrace new technology.”

Robin Kamath, AstraZeneca IT Capability Lead, Europe

In doing so, we delivered 20 times greater productivity, without increasing costs, compromising quality, or jeopardising compliance. The solution has also improved job satisfaction (who wouldn’t love having less admin to do!) and improved response rates from healthcare professionals.

By redefining what is possible, we have set a precedent for increased automation in the industry, allowing pharmaceutical companies to liberate highly-skilled scientists from administrative tasks to focus on pushing the boundaries of science to deliver life-changing medicines to patients who need them.

We’re now working with AstraZeneca to expand the solution into its international markets.

Make an impact for clients, people and society

We couldn’t put it any better than Nigel Soanes, Medical Information & Pharmacovigilance Director for AstraZeneca in Europe: “Through this project, we have been able to simplify, standardise and automate a regulatory process sitting at the heart of our licence to operate. Successful delivery would not have been possible without Deloitte's support. It has given patient safety teams more time to focus on brand-supporting activities, it will offset some of the future resource demand we are expecting in coming years, and it will expand the knowledge base for our marketed drugs, benefiting our people, our company and society as a whole.”

The project also received the "Highly Commended" prize in the Digital & Technology category at the Management Consultancies Association’s 2018 awards.

Contact

Katy Barrass

Assistant Public Relations Manager

+44 (0)20 7007 7916

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