How does your company manage important lab data? Data management is an important but difficult task for Pharma companies who still follow manual processes. In some Laboratories, researchers and analysts fill complete details in paper notebooks. Such redundant and repetitive work involves a lot of time and effort from the researchers and analysts.

Further, in paper-based labs, the gold mine of data simply becomes useless when there is no person available to interpret it.  The root of the problem is overdependence on people. Moreover, manual procedures may lead to risk of data loss, data integrity issues, data recovery hassles, data security issues, and many more. In short, it becomes a tricky situation. Human presence is required for analysis, but at the same time, issues occur because of human involvement.

Tools for Automation and Digitalization

The data in the lab can be easily maintained and stored using electronic tools such as Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) or Electronic worksheet (EWS), Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS), data repositories, etc. ELN collects and electronically saves information documented during the research or sample analysis process. It adds value by digitalizing the manual STPs.

There are many other tools that act as repositories of raw data. What Pharma companies need is robust systems such as LIMS which deals with sample logging, sample tracking, sample analysis, data collection, instrument integration, report generation, etc. It is easier to store, fetch, process, and discard data on computer than paper.

Apart from Quality Control in the lab, many tools are available for Quality Management and Manufacturing. These tools increase efficiency and ensure that regulatory compliance needs are consistently met.

At the beginning of the digital revolution for Pharma, many Pharma companies began to understand the need for laboratory automation. Mainly, it is required to reap benefits of efficiency and accuracy of the lab solutions and hence digitalizing laboratories became part of the wish list for them. However, research shows that digitalization in Pharma sector did not happen at the speed expected. There are many reasons for which reluctancy to adopt change, increased costs of digitalizing in initial phase, etc are predominant. The Covid-19 situation acted as an alarm for many companies who realized the urgency of removing people-dependent processes.

Digitalization – An Urgent Requirement

With social distancing, lockdowns, reduced transportation facilities and many such issues becoming part of life today, Pharma companies have now realised that paperless lab is an urgent requirement. To survive in today’s situation with minimum to no human presence, Pharma companies are bent for laboratory automation.

Robust LIMS systems that can help analysts have complete control over lab data, improve their efficiency, and increase their productivity is the requirement. Pharma companies are now looking for transforming their labs into smart labs where technology like AI and automation are used. The transition from manual processes to digital is an investment but it is worth every penny in the long run.

According to McKinsey, “For businesses, the consequences have been profound. Many have learned how to operate remotely—at a high level and at far greater speed. These practices could well stick, making for better management and more flexible workforces.” Taking a cue from the current situation, Pharma companies need to speed up their process of transformation into digital labs at the earliest.

What is in Store in Future

Every industry, including Pharma, was thrust into a difficult situation by the sudden onslaught of the spread of Covid-19. Person dependent companies had to close business overnight. Some companies have seen the light of the day and are pacing fast towards the Next Normal whereas some are still grappling in the darkness. It is time for the complete Pharma to revamp their thought process, rethink their business strategies, and make way for a solid digital foundation and paperless lab to face any kind of threat in future. A paperless lab will make all this possible. And more.

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