Hype or hope? New e-book tackles artificial intelligence in pharma and healthcare

Intouch and Digital Health Coalition's new e-book examines how AI can work for the pharma industry. (Intouch Solutions)

Pharma companies want to know what all the hype's about when it comes to artificial intelligence.

Intouch Solutions and Digital Health Coalition have been asked that question often, so the two teamed up to write a book about AI. The e-book will be released in stages, eventually with five chapters—the first has just been released—and as a digital document that will evolve and change as the technology does the same.

It also might spark some interest. Because while some pharma and healthcare clients are interested and experimenting with artificial intelligence applications, others think it’s still far off, said Wendy Blackburn, Intouch executive vice president. However, as she noted, it’s already here.

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“One of the things we’re trying to do is tell people they’re already working in artificial intelligence whether they know it or not—every time they search on Google, every time they use Amazon, every time they use home assistant devices. Artificial intelligence already surrounds everything we do,” she said. “And there’s a whole lot of potential to make our lives and our jobs better.”

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The first chapter explores what AI is and how the industry got to this point with the proliferation of data and the ability to store and process it. It also discusses privacy, a particular concern in healthcare. Some people in the industry use privacy as a reason not to use AI, pointing to regulations and restrictions particular to healthcare, Blackburn said. Still, she thinks AI can help even with those limitations; it's possible to do predictive modeling with lookalike models without having to use real patient data.

Installments of the e-book will be released every four to six weeks and will include interactive elements such as videos, polls and surveys, Blackburn said. Future chapters will look at why AI matters and who and what are the players and tools. They'll also include "an ask the experts" section and a look ahead to the next five years.

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“As marketers have more data available to target the most relevant audience, the shared benefit is that pharmaceutical companies and brands will be able to better target their messaging to the right customer audience, at the right time, with the right channel mix," Ozgun Demir, director of digital strategy at Novartis Oncology and an Intouch client, said in an emailed statement.

“There’s a broader theme here of modern marketing," Blackburn agreed. "It’s helping pharma marketers use technology to help market better and market smarter to their audiences. To the point that even the consumers and healthcare providers don’t even feel they’re being marketed to because we’re serving up exactly the content or the ad or whatever it is they’re looking for when they’re looking for it.”

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