RPA in the Pharmaceutical Industry | Ideas2IT

RPA in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Latest Trends and Applications

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Organizations in the pharmaceutical sector often rely on RPA implementation to combat challenges from supply chain bottlenecks, workforce optimization, data interoperability, and maintaining regulatory compliance. 

With spending on robotic process automation (RPA) software worldwide more than tripling from $520 million in 2017 to $1.89 billion in 2021, it’s evident that the future of the pharmaceutical industry will be poised on the advantages stemming from robotic process automation.  

To learn more about the widespread applications of RPA, this article covers:

  • What is Robotic Process Automation?
  • Wide Scale Applications of RPA in Pharma Industry
  • Benefits of Robotic Process Automation in Pharmaceutical Industry

What is Robotic Process Automation?

Robotic process automation (RPA) software and tools interface with computer applications to carry out calculations, execute decisions, and automate repetitive, rule-based tasks. 

Using pre-programmed software bots to automate specific tasks, the applications of robotic process automation extend beyond workflow efficiencies to the autonomous execution of front and back-office tasks. 

With around 45% of the front and back-office jobs capable of being automated, organizations operating in the pharmaceutical industry are uniquely positioned for substantial employee cost mitigations and improved effectiveness.

RPA in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Latest Trends and Applications
Credit: Derek Finch

Robotic Process Automation in the Pharmaceutical Industry

As organizations positioned in the healthcare, life sciences, and pharmaceutical industry continue to grow, so does the complexity and volume of their manual tasks. 

In an effort to ease increasing demands, robotic process automation is often leveraged in combination with cloud migrations to foster scalability. While operating in a cloud-based environment can improve an organization’s agility and efficiency, incompatibility between legacy systems and cloud-powered solutions can hinder performance. 

One such way that RPA overcomes these hindrances would be by automating the storage and transfer of data across various systems – all without the need for additional programming interfaces. 

Additional applications of robotic process automation in the pharmaceutical industry are many. They include clinical trial management, supply chain and inventory management, sales forecasting, rebate and chargeback processing, supplier onboarding, regulatory compliance, and more.

Clinical Trial Management

From automating patient matching to improving the efficacy of repetitive tasks, RPA implementation extends beyond clinical trial management to also include Randomized Clinical Trials (RCT) and trial master role management. 

Furthermore, the time spent on processing pharmacovigilance (PV) cases can be reduced by as much as 45%, leading to potential multi-million dollar savings annually. 

Supply Chain and Inventory Management

Robotic process automation enables the automation of complex routine processes that can lead to improved efficiency, reduced operating costs, and improved accuracy. Among some of the areas with multi-step processes that can be automated include: 

  • Invoice management
  • Inventory management
  • Purchase order management 
  • Refund and return processing 
  • Supply and demand strategizing

In addition, for pharmaceutical companies operating within the United States, RPA can aid in the process of building an interoperable system to identify, monitor, and trace specific prescription drugs across distribution chains that comply with The Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) and the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA). 

Drug Sales Forecasting 

Drug forecasting methods are often ineffective as there is insufficient historical data pertaining to some drugs. This is due to many of those drugs being replaced by analogs or updated to strengthen pharmacological effects or eliminate side effects. 

With machine learning and RPA, a forecasting model could be tailored to consider such variables and work through an algorithm.

Robotic Process Automation in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Credit: Hal Gatewood

Rebate and Chargeback Processing

Duplicate rebates, chargeback abuse, and the misuse of copay benefits cost pharmaceutical companiesmore than $11 billion in bottom-line revenue

To improve transparency and accuracy, robotic process automation can be used to automate how data from multiple sources are collected, stored, and accessible. Additional benefits of RPA include: 

  • Cross-compatibility across different interfaces
  • Mitigated data collection and processing errors
  • The automation of manual tasks in rebate validation and payment processing

For additional information, view our guide on
 RPA in Healthcare – Need of the Hour.

Supplier Onboarding

Following the pandemic, there are multiple disruptions in supply chain distribution. When combined with how 80% of active pharmaceutical ingredients for drugs sold in the US are produced overseas, the importance of supplier onboarding becomes more prevalent. 

With robotic process automation, however, pharmaceutical companies can expedite supplier onboarding processes across multiple phases, such as:

  • Supplier research: RPA can search and list potential candidates on predetermined conditions.
  • Approval and invite: RPA software can create and send invites to approved candidates.
  • Supplier enrollment: Completing pass and fail assessments, updating statuses, and reviewing supplier-provided data.
  • Supplier and finance activation: Following manual or automated activation, robotic process automation can create a vendor master in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and send relevant data to other systems.

Achieving and MaintainingRegulatory Compliance

Many of the processes used in compliance are manual, such as gathering documents, verifying that those documents comply with regulatory standards, and ensuring they’re detailed in a regulatory submission. With RPA implementation, pharma companies can: 

  • Improve quality control
  • Enhance audit readiness
  • Integrate legacy systems with new software
  • Gather, centralize, and store data quicker and more accurately

Additional Applications of RPA in Pharmaceutical Industry

Robotic process automation is perfect for the automation of traditionally manual, rules-based processes and operations. Additional areas of business process automation that can be improved by RPA include: 

Human Resources (HR)

  • Time record validation
  • Travel and expense oversight
  • Employees master data management

Tax, Financial, and Administrative

  • Tax reporting
  • Accounts payable
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Payment processing

Interested in learning more? Check out these blogs:
RPA in Pharmaceutical Industry
Credit: Louis Reed

Top Benefits of RPA in the Pharma Industry

The future of pharmaceuticals is predicated on the benefits of RPA. With the applications of robotic process automation in the pharma industry growing, the myriad of benefits stemming from RPA extends to include: 

  • Execution time: The automation of repetitive, time-consuming tasks such as data entry. 
  • Error-free data: Ensures consistency, eliminates human error, and automates manual tasks with improved transparency across multiple interfaces. 
  • Turnaround times: Improve process efficiencies across multiple departments through autonomy with improved agility to maximize ROI.
  • Precision marketing: Render real-time tailored knowledge to customers for improved marketing efforts. 
  • Real-time reporting: Gain access to complex medical information quickly, easily, and efficiently.
  • Amplify sales force operations: Improve sales reps and digital workforce effectiveness by recording sales activities and processes and retrieving accurate and timely sales data whenever needed. 

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Custom RPA Solutions for Pharmaceutical Companies

Robotic process automation in the pharmaceutical industry will continue to influence the infrastructure, autonomy, and effectiveness of pharmaceutical companies. It will also serve as the critical stepping stone to competitive advantage in the years to follow. 

From improving patient experience, streamlining organizational agility, to aiding in the achievement and maintenance of regulatory compliance, the digitalization and automation of RPA empower pharma organizations with the tools they need to succeed. 

By combining the versatility of RPA with Ideas2IT’s decade-plus of experience of pioneering the industry’s leading custom software solutions, you can ensure your organization has the technical infrastructure, tools, and expertise required to come out on top and maximize ROI. 
To discover more intel regarding the advancements that RPA can deliver to your organization, we invite you to connect with one of our RPA specialists today to learn more.