Is it time for pharma to move beyond single system visibility?

Tracelink discusses how companies can benefit from an end-to-end data-driven point of view

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Pharma IQ

The pharma industry stands on the verge of incredible breakthroughs when it comes to managing its supply chain.

Global track and trace regulations, the near ubiquity of the Internet, and advancements in Software as a Service (SaaS) applications have created a perfect storm scenario where the potential of digital platforms can be fully realized.

The industry is now striving towards the creation of end-to-end value networks that use serialized data and processes to improve visibility and transparency across the supply chain.


Moving on from compliance

Serialization is now business as usual across the key pharma markets, so now companies at every stage of the supply chain are thinking about how they can find value in serialized data and the new channels of communication they have with partners.

Visibility across the supply chain is one of the foundational pillars of future supply chain value.  To date, visibility has been limited to immediate up and downstream partners through point to point connections.  This is where a platform based on a network of connected partners can be a real game-changer. By connecting to and exchanging information in the context of a single network platform, data and communication silos are ultimately broken down, creating transparency and end-to-end visibility that leads to incredible opportunities that can drive value.


Network vs. Systems Visibility

As part of the shift in mindset from compliance to value, supply chain leaders must also think more broadly about their role, how they manage their own processes, and how they engage with supply partners. One of the ways this manifests is in the shift from relying only on the systems that help automate individual company and location-specific processes to taking an end-to-end point of view through the vantage point of the network.

There is still significant value in the systems, processes and operations that ensure a product is manufactured, packed, serialized and distributed properly. But it is the integration of all the data generated by these systems across the network in a single place where the exponential value kicks in.

TraceLink created a network of supply chain partners initially to help businesses comply with serialization regulations.  The focus now is enabling businesses to mine the full potential from that existing and connected network. We are creating a platform that will allow customers to take advantage of existing capabilities, such as seamless B2B data exchange, and to create new tools that leverage the network relationships they have already established.

The network becomes a richer and more comprehensive “digital twin” of the supply chain.  All of the product, company, and process information that is available on the network can be used to automate use cases beyond compliance that are either not automated at all today or are automated in a siloed fashion. Thinking simplistically, businesses can monitor stock levels throughout their entire supply chain and map supply and demand forecasts against previous rates. One of the most obvious and important use cases is improving drug recalls – when a market authorization holder (MAH) knows exactly where all its stock is in real-time, it can direct its communications efficiently over the network rather than blanketing entire supply chains through outdated channels like fax and email.

The challenge becomes one of unlocking this value by allowing users to integrate and create other tools that can both mine and add new data into the network. Additional data points include temperature data, logistics information, data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices, customer information, weather data, etc.  All of these things can impact how products reach patients, and how quickly inevitable problems can be resolved. The more data available to the network, the closer we get to a truly holistic picture of the supply chain.

Ultimately, the industry’s goal is to enable people and businesses to do more together and this means creating a large, scalable platform that connects businesses, people, and processes together.


Creating value destroys silos

For years, the pharmaceutical industry has been linear, operating in silos. As transformation continues to happen, these barriers will crash down, as companies across the supply chain want to work together to solve critical industry challenges. A network platform can help to break down these walls and can help to facilitate real-time collaboration and improve supply chain processes, beyond the previous one or two upstream or downstream touch points that currently exist.

A perfect use case for a network point of view is personalized therapies such as biologics.  Manufacturers need to understand and monitor in real-time how these products travel through the supply chain, for the entire “vein-to-vein” cycle. Stringent adherence to temperature-controlled storage and distribution requirements is critical as these drugs are highly sensitive and expensive, leaving absolutely no room for error. Product quality must be perfect to ensure efficacy for the end patient and invariably the treatment is life-saving, creating even more pressure for the supply chain.

With a digital network platform, the industry will have the ability to take the next step in collaborating together.  Companies will be able to share and analyze data, and create new processes that deliver business value, while protecting the global drug supply chain and keeping patients safe. With a digital network platform, the industry has the power to move from a linear, ingredient-driven mindset that limits visibility to a patient-driven supply chain that improves efficiencies and ensures the integrity and safety of medicines around the world.