6 Mistakes Pharma Companies Make When Adopting New Technology

6 Mistakes Pharma Companies Make When Adopting New Technology

Pharma CEO reaches for outdated technology solution

In previous tech-related posts, we’ve discussed how pharma and other companies focused on clinical research are slow to adopt new technology. While we are finally starting to see a shift in attitude towards innovation in our space, there are some common pitfalls that can hinder adoption.

We’d like to see the pharmaceutical industry take full advantage of the benefits that modern tech advancements have to offer. If more companies can manage to avoid these 6 common mistakes, then we  should see a real renaissance within our space over the next few years!

1) Testing New Technology on a Small Dataset

It might seem efficient to run a quick, isolated test with a new technological solution. However, that’s not the best way to evaluate its capabilities. Far too many pharmaceutical companies give new technologies a whirl during a trial that isn’t representative of the majority of their trials. For example, they might test a study that is:

  • Phase I or IIa
  • United States only
  • Single site only
  • Not integrated with the current core data management processes

Dismissing or affirming the new technology’s worth on the basis of a tiny or atypical study is a mistake, and could result in the continued use of a tech solution that isn’t right for you or in discontinuing a groundbreaking solution that’s been falsely deemed ineffective.

Instead, the pilot trial (including the team running it and other technologies used) should be representative of your company’s next pivotal study. This will also hopefully make that buy-in from the next study team easier.

2) Not Willing to Take Risks with New Technology

This industry may be all about discovering new cures, but sometimes we collectively lack the willingness to take new operating risks. Taking calculated scientific risks is in our job description, but the pharma and research sphere is also famous for it’s slow adopter status.

Letting our thirst for medical advancements break down some of our “creature of habit” tendencies may very well bring those advancements to market faster. Though it can be tempting to stick to past procedures rather than face the growing pains of a new technology, it can cost us extra time and money in the long run.

Reversing our aversion to operating risks could improve our procedures and consequently:

  • The results of these studies
  • What those results cost
  • How quickly we attained these goals

Remember, with little risk comes little reward.

3) Waiting for Others to Take the Lead

This is another way in which the best intentions can set your company back. Being a fast follower rather than a first mover can only get you so far– and sometimes it doesn’t get you anywhere.

When we look to other pharma companies for our next move, the danger is that they’re also looking at other companies and consequently no one ever makes a move. Believe it or not, there are several examples of cases within pharma where almost a decade has passed without anyone stepping up to lead. Though it can be intimidating to make a novel technological move first, the results might be well worth it.

4) Thinking Slow but Steady Still Wins the Race

The famous cliche that “slow but steady wins the race” might not be your friend when it comes to pharma.

While it’s ill-advised to jump recklessly into any new technology, there are certainly times that moving too slowly is tantamount to not moving at all. After all, there is no award for arriving at the finish line in twelfth place. Finding ways to efficiently lay foundations for new technologies and then put those technologies to use in a swift and productive manner is a hugely beneficial practice. That way, when the inevitable next technology rolls around, you’ll be ready to do it all over again.

5) Not Protecting Their Data

You may have protective measures in place for your existing technologies, but don’t neglect to make sure your new ones are airtight. Data security is often taken for granted by businesses which have never lost significant resources to a security breach.

Here are a few tips for making sure your data is secure:

  • Check where your data is hosted. Good providers should be able to:
    • Offer a range of jurisdictions
    • Let you choose the jurisdiction in which your data is stored
    • Talk you through the pros and cons of each
    • Let you know what laws surround each jurisdiction
  • Vet the encryption used by your vendors
  • Align your security with your business goals
    • Your security team should not be making decisions without considering how it affects the bigger picture
  • The inverse is also true; security measures should be kept in mind when making any business decision
  • Make sure your employees never:
    • Email unencrypted data
    • Store unencrypted data on cell phones
    • Take sensitive data home on their laptops or phones
    • Reuse passwords
    • Share passwords

Keep in mind that your company’s data is only as secure as its weakest link, whether that link comes in the form of an individual or of a shiny new technology. Any technology you introduce into your company should be as secure as it is promising.

6) Enabling Too Many Traffic Cops

Some pharma companies might have too many traffic cops and not enough racers in their teams. While regulation is the name of the game, it can also inhibit innovation quite effectively.

Since regulatory departments obviously play a crucial role in these company, it makes finding ways to nurture innovation all the more important within a pharmaceutical organization. At the end of the day, everyone in your company shares the common goal of moving forward.


Utilizing a new technology is often something that can put your company ahead of the curve. Technological solutions can help a pharmaceutical company improve everything from their efficiency to their patient centricity. They can cut costs and speed up various processes. In fact, as you likely realized, some of these tech-related mistakes involved not adopting a given technology fast enough. When you avoid these six common mistakes and implement a new technology the right way, it can take your pharma company to new heights.

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Welcome to Clinical Research Trends, a new blog dedicated to providing breaking news on clinical trial recruitment, patient engagement, new technology and noteworthy trends. With this blog, we are working to provide clinical research organizations, sponsors and leading service providers with critical news and industry updates on a regular basis. If you want to learn more about the latest trends in clinical trial recruitment and drug development, you’ve come to the right place.

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