While the COVID-19 pandemic has surely rocked the world and surprised many, what has remained even more surprising is the speed with which vaccine and pharmaceutical technology companies have mobilized in order to develop an effective means of treatment. In most, if not all, cases, developing a vaccine takes several years- and that’s to develop a prototype that needs to be rigorously tested. Yet, here we are, just over half a year into 2020’s pandemic and there are already vaccines such as Moderna’s that are in the middle of their phase 3 clinical trials.

Of course, it’s not as though the medical space is barreling through testing and developing the vaccine without care for safety and efficacy. The same amount of care and rigorous iterations are being implemented to ensure this treatment will be an effective one. 

So what has changed? What has caused the R&D process to become so streamlined? How is pharmaceutical technology and medical hardware transforming the drug research and development process?

The Big Players in Pharmaceutical Technology

A lot of the same technology being used to empower the pharmaceutical space is the same hardware and software being used to revolutionize both acute and long term patient care. Below are a few we’ve seen readily embraced as 2020 proves again and again to be a transformative year for the entire healthcare space. 

Data Gathering Hardware

Data is the fuel by which we ideate, test, and refine pharmaceuticals. That said, the more sophisticated our abilities to gather patient data, the more of that data we have to refine and temper our research and development processes. 

Thankfully, there has been no shortage of innovation in methods of patient data recording, especially in a mid-pandemic world that has been forced to adapt to remote patient monitoring. 

Wearables, vital/symptom tracking tech, and the hardware needed to gather data drawn from them such as medical grade all in one computers have continued to revolutionize the way we gather patient data ranging from prior health issues and current medications to symptoms, vitals, mental health and more. All of this data plays an invaluable part in developing the drugs, medications, and vaccines that are used to treat and cure these patients and others like them, making data gathering hardware just as viable a piece of pharmaceutical tech as it is a piece of care tech.   

Clinical Collaboration and Population Health

Care facilities have been enhancing their clinical collaboration systems for quite some time. By speaking to other facilities and combining their experiences in treating the same patient populations, more data can be consolidated and used to improve care.

The exact same thing can be done for drug research and development. By using these same innovations and attaining a better understanding of an entire patient group, pharmaceutical companies can observe which ailments and conditions are the most common across a given population. Not only does this help target ailments to treat when creating new drugs, it also gives developers more insight into the conditions patients have that could impede the efficacy of said drug, allowing them the ability to create drugs and treatments that will bypass these potential roadblocks.  

AI and Digital Twins

With access to all of the data mentioned earlier, pharmaceutical companies can create fake, digital patients (digital twins) and see how their drugs would work on these “test patients” without risking a real human’s health. This makes testing exponentially quicker and also allows facilities to try out many more iterations of a drug or treatment without fear of failure. 

Using AI and machine learning, a drug developer’s systems can immediately infer what kind of reactions patients will have to their drug based on silos of reference data that are available due to the data gathering hardware we mentioned earlier. 

Of course, AI is nowhere near where it needs to be to provide 100% accurate predictions, so any and all observations made by it need to be validated and confirmed by the pharmaceutical team. Nevertheless, having these innovations on hand allows developers to spend significantly less on test iterations of their drugs by giving them a virtual patient to experiment on. 


Telehealth and the myriad of HIPAA compliant messaging solutions that have come along as a result have made reporting and interacting with test patients notably simpler for developers. Being able to communicate over messaging apps or video calls helps pharmaceutical companies gather more data quicker. Additionally, due to the increased convenience of remote communication, more are enticed to enroll in clinical trials, giving developers more data with which they can refine their treatments.

How Do These Benefit Drug Research and Development?

A few of the benefits these pieces of tech provide are rather self explanatory, but others are more potent and transformative to the industry as a whole. 

Faster R&D

Data is being gathered and reported much more efficiently now that telehealth and remote monitoring strategies have entered the mainstream of healthcare. Not only does this mean pharmaceutical developers are receiving their data quicker, it also means further iterations of different drugs and products can be developed faster. With data gathering hardware providing much quicker feedback on how patients are reacting to test drugs, developers are able to adjust and make changes to their products quicker as well, speeding up the process as a whole without compromising safety and efficacy. 

More Effective R&D

In addition to data being brought in quicker, more data is also being gathered, allowing for more effective drugs that meet patient needs. We’re no longer just receiving data on individual patients, clinical collaboration and population health infrastructures are giving teams much more comprehensive data on things like socioeconomic factors, community diseases, and more. This has allowed for pharmaceuticals to create drugs that help address certain ailments and conditions while also planning ahead for any efficacy issues due to pre-existing conditions that are common across patient groups and populations. Being able to predict and plan for these variables means teams can create drugs that are effective in less attempts than before. 

More Cost Efficient R&D

Research and development costs quite a bit of money. Resources, test facilities, clinical trials, volunteers all chip away at a company’s available finances, making cost-saving initiatives invaluable to R&D. Like we mentioned earlier, digital twin tech allows for research and development to be conducted on fake patients using digital test drugs that don’t require real materials that cost money. Because of the abundance of data available thanks to new pharmaceutical technology, several iterations of a drug can be tested before any real money need be invested in them. 

More Specialized Drug Production

According to Bozidar Jovicevic, VP of Global Head of Digital Medicines at Sanofi in a recent interview, “Technology has the ability to transform a legacy classical pharma organization into a technologically powered one. It has also shifted the focus of the industry from primary care drugs to highly specialized drugs, which is imminent in today’s time and age.”

Herein lies the most important development to come out of new pharmaceutical technology. Data is allowing teams to not only develop drugs faster and more efficiently, but it’s also allowing them to create drugs that are more desperately needed. The healthcare sector as a whole is receiving a much clearer look at their patients and their individual and shared needs. This has naturally resulted in more customized care in facilities as well as more tailored drug development by pharmaceutical companies. This availability of tech and data is enticing the pharmaceutical space to invest in more specialized drugs as opposed to generic, stable ones that simply keep the industry afloat, and it’s these kinds of drugs that are going to make the greatest impact.  

Pharmaceutical Technology is Doing More than Optimizing

Pharmaceutical companies are constantly walking a tightrope of optimizing drug research and development without compromising the safety of their products and the patients who will be partaking in them. As such, pharmaceutical technology that actually stands to make a difference and that is actually worth investing in will be the solutions that optimize while also enhancing access to actionable data such as socioeconomic factors, and population statistics. For more information on hardware that can help gather and consolidate that data, contact an expert from Cybernet’s team today.