Pharmacy and AI


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

Every year, the firm states, 'pharmaceutical companies receive hundreds of thousands of what are called 'Adverse Event' (AE) reports relating to their to their medicines. An AE is 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 professions to understand their reported events is a legal requirement and as Deloitte explains ' for AstraZeneca, this was associated with lots of paperwork, including letters and emails to patients and physicians. The solution was to used Robotic Process Automation which uses software 'robots' to automate business processes.'

The firm worked with the pharmaceutical company to achieve this in just six weeks, delivering 20 times greater productivity, without increasing costs, compromising quality or jeopardising compliance. There were even improved response rates from healthcare professionals.

By redefining what is possible, Deloitte, says it has set a precedent for increased automation in the industry 'allowing 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.'

Since 2017, Deloitte has been exploring how artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics could put doctors back on the front line away from administration. One case involved the gastroenterology department of Edinburgh's Western General Hospital which receives up to 40 electronic GP referrals a day, each one assessed by a consultant. Deloitte took 22,000 letters sent over a five year period and created a dictionary of the most frequently used words and phrases and when these terms appeared regularly in referrals, it pointed to a patient needing a specific type of care.

The model, Deloitte states, has been able to identify with 96 per cent accuracy, for instance, when the referral was classified as suspected cancer, suggesting a huge future for AI in the NHS. The team is also looking at whether it could be used to reduce long waits for routine appointments and match, more closely, resource and patient need.


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