Data, Digitization, and Industry Disruption

welocalize July 2, 2019
Highlights and key takeaways from DIA 2019 Annual Meeting

The life sciences industry is opening up to new ideas, technologies, and collaboration initiatives. AI, big data, and digitization all help pave the way to drug development and meeting the needs of the patient. At DIA 2019, thought leaders from around the world gathered to share insights on innovation in healthcare, clinical research, and drug and device development. Overwhelmingly, the key sentiment was “the future is now.” According to Barbara Kunz, Global Chief Executive of the Drug Information Association, drug development is evolving quicker than some might expect from a historically slow-to-change industry.

“We are in the era of dramatic transformational change in health, both in product development but also at the system level with the way those products are regulated, the way those products are being discovered and developed, the integration of patients into their healthcare, and the value frameworks on the market access side of healthcare,” states Kunz in an interview with BIOPHARMA DIVE.

DIA 2019 conference session
Photo courtesy of DIA Annual Meeting 2019

Building on that message of transformational change, here are three standout themes from DIA 2019:


Throughout the conference, there was a lot of discussion, sessions, and exhibits focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Is AI and ML happening in the drug development process or are these merely buzzwords? According to Kunz, it’s happening, but the industry is just beginning to see the results.

“What you’re finding is that people are now experimenting with various opportunities and we have some early results where AI is being used for, say, label expansions. You’re finding these technologies are no longer this big scary thing people can’t think about conceptually. People now are getting it and are starting to work collaboratively with some of the new or big technology companies.”



Data was central to the theme of DIA 2019: its uses, who owns it, and how it will disrupt the life sciences industry.

“We are facing a deluge of data—from electronic health records, claims data, fitness trackers, and other mobile technologies. Everyone—industry, regulators, patients, hope these real world data hold the key to better and safer therapies getting in the hands of patients,” stated Sudip Parikh, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of DIA Americas, in an interview with Outsourcing-Pharma.

Always a key theme: speed to market. The general consensus was that big data will impact and transform the industry, helping to recoup R&D investment by bringing drugs to patients faster.

“Anything you can do to make all the processes inherent or more efficient — and to use data to get the outcomes more quickly — that’s going to totally disrupt the system. You’ll see the end-to-end players really experimenting across the system,” added Kunz.


Another big theme at DIA again this year is focusing on the patient: increased patient engagement and patient centricity. According to a study of 17 regulatory agencies, disease organizations, and private sector companies conducted by DIA and Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD), all have embraced patient centricity, and they are all developing additional frameworks and resources.

DIA-Tufts CSDD Study of 17 organizations focuses on patients at the center of research
DIA-Tufts CSDD Study of 17 organizations focuses on patients at the center of research

The results of the study revealed that the most widely adopted (implemented and piloted) initiatives are, in order: Patient advisory boards; professional panels; and lay-language clinical trial results summaries. Top planned initiatives are: eConsent; adaptive trial designs and adaptive licensing; and establishing patient communities (during and after clinical trials).

New this year, DIA 2019 officially declared the event as “Patient Included”. Patients and patient partners with experience or interest in furthering the impact of their involvement in medical product development were featured as speakers, panelists, and discussants throughout the program.


What is the most successful way pharmaceutical companies connect with their consumers? Through digital marketing. People want to be significantly more informed about their medications and obtain that information themselves straight from pharmaceutical companies. Some of the best ways to offer this to individuals are through digital marketing strategies, including social media and multilingual chatbots.

Digital marketing strategies can keep patients more directly connected with companies and transform healthcare and clinical research to more closely mirror other company-to-consumer processes.


More than anything, the key takeaway from DIA 2019 is that the industry is opening up to new ideas, technologies, and collaboration initiatives. AI, big data, and digitization all help pave the way to drug development and meeting the needs of the patient.


Big Data: Learn how our data annotation services properly label, tag, categorize, classify, and analyze unstructured multilingual data that trains ML applications, ensuring accurate results.

Lay Summaries: Information and recommendations from our team to assist medical writers with health literacy for better patient comprehension.

Multilingual Patient Outreach: Four ways content marketers can have greater success with their outreach and engagement via multilingual digital content.

See you at DIA 2020!

WLS booth at DIA 2019
Pictured: Welocalize Life Sciences team members, DIA 2019 in San Diego