The digitization challenges Frank Roth, CIO of the Klosterfrau Healthcare Group, at various points. On the one hand, he must answer the question of how a traditional company with 192 years of history can be repositioned in times of digital change. On the other hand, as IT manager of a pharmaceutical company, he must also keep an eye on the regulatory requirements for all digital initiatives. Frank Roth will report on his experiences in this area of tension on 12 September at solutions.hamburg. In an interview he gives first insights into his work.
mgm: Mr. Roth, at solutions.hamburg 2018 you will give a lecture on the question "How can tradition and digitisation be combined? Can you briefly introduce yourself and your position within the Klosterfrau Healthcare Group?
Frank Roth: I am responsible for IT in the Klosterfrau Group. The company was founded in 1826 - so we have 192 years of company history on our back. We are an innovative and modern company. Tradition does not mean being conservative and excluding the themes of modernity and innovation. Well-known brands of our group of companies include the Klosterfrau Melissengeist, which many will probably know, neo-angin, Nasic and taxofit. We also include the Maria Galland Group with its high-quality cosmetics and the Sweeteners with the ASSUGRIN brand.
mgm: How would you describe the current state of digitization in the pharmaceutical industry?
Frank Roth: Digitization is of course making its way into all industries. In the pharmaceutical industry, however, it is more subdued and less noticeable due to the regulated environment. Nevertheless, the health care market is also showing the first changes towards digitalisation. One example can be observed in the health insurance field: Due to the lack of doctors in rural areas, it is now possible to carry out online visits to doctors. The value chain of those involved thus takes up the topic more strongly than in the past. For us, this means that we also have to deal much more intensively with digitization internally. Our focus is on our processes, workflows and working methods, because these are the prerequisite for coming up with ideas and digitization approaches in our business.
mgm: What challenges will the pharmaceutical industry in general and Klosterfrau in particular face in the coming years?
Frank Roth: I believe that we as the pharmaceutical industry must pursue the topic of digitization in all directions. It can be seen, for example, that companies from the technology sector are currently entering the field that do not actually come from the pharmaceutical industry. An example is Google Lens, with which one can record measured values for diabetics by means of a lens. One can imagine what is possible in terms of medical care and studies with these measurement series and all the data collected in high quality. These fields are interesting for us, but we are also confronted with the fact that niche players who do not come from the pharmaceutical industry are entering this field.
In addition, there are other interesting fields of application. One is a patch with a sensor that is very interesting for Parkinson's patients and for which application scenarios already exist in this field. The patch measures the patient's rash and can therefore dose the active ingredient very precisely. At the same time, the measured values can be transmitted to the doctor. In this way an individual therapy is much more intensive and mature possible. The quality of healthcare can therefore benefit enormously from digitisation.
mgm: Will pharmaceutical companies have to be masters in handling data and digital technologies in the future?
Frank Roth: Information is the oil of the future, as the saying goes. Big data will certainly play a role. Based on the example of the patch and the sensor, one can imagine the potential of research and development. There are already first attempts, which are mostly forced in America - for example the Apple Research Kit. By carrying out clinical studies digitally, they can be carried out with a much wider spread - i.e. a higher number of patients. Data collection and recording is also much more convenient for the patient. This leads to a greater amount of representative data - and this goes hand in hand with better quality and development of medicine.
In addition, today we have many more opportunities to generate customer information in both B2B and B2C environments. This helps us to get to know customer needs better and to get the so-called 360-degree view of the customer. These are initiatives that we also pursue internally. In this respect, I believe that information and the ability to draw the right conclusions from the information and to generate digital approaches will be central in the future. It will be important for us to analyse how we can supplement our products with digital services to such an extent that we create added value for the patient in addition to the actual product, also with regard to the regulation of the industry.
mgm: Will the role of Klosterfrau-IT change as a result of digitisation?
Frank Roth: Yes, the role has already changed for us as IT in any case. Because it is part of our core business, we entered the field much earlier. For example, in 2015, when we wanted to open a branch in Poland, we already fully equipped the office as a cloud office. In this way, we have made our first major entry into the cloud.
We see our role as a business enabler. Although we also have a data center and our own operations, the crucial question is: How can we enable the business? For our employees, this naturally means a different understanding of their tasks. If, for example, we go into the cloud, the task changes. Operational and administrative tasks are eliminated to a greater extent. This means that we can become much more involved in advising on processes and solutions. The demand on us has thus increased a bit, because we have to think much more business-oriented and support the pairing of business & IT from the technical side. This has increased the demands, but the tasks have not become less interesting.
We benefit greatly from the early entry into the possible fields. Since we have driven these strategies and concepts forward with great participation from our team leaders and employees, change is not an obstacle.
mgm: How do you involve your employees in this process and what role does change management play?
Frank Roth: As mentioned earlier, we took IT with us relatively early on the journey by including it in the questioning of how we have to position ourselves where and also asking for input. We have many different initiatives across the group: from cloud entry to facilitating mobile working and collaboration, which has led to new tools, to streamlining and digitizing processes and procedures to make them more meaningful and beneficial to our business. To give a few examples: We have started to completely migrate our telephony solution to a Unified Communication Solution that includes not only the telephone, but also chatting, video telephony and the ability to hold meetings - from anywhere in the world, including the home office. This technology naturally brings with it a new way of working in which change is very important. Because digitization means: we change working methods, we change processes, we introduce new applications. Change management is therefore extremely important for such major changes as unified communication or other projects such as our ERP consolidation or the Talent Suite in the HR area.
mgm: You will be at solutions.hamburg on 12 September and will also be giving a lecture there. What do you personally hope to gain from this visit?
Frank Roth: I am looking forward to exchanging ideas with colleagues from other industries and hope to generate some valuable impulses and learnings from their experiences. Furthermore, I think it would be nice to be able to include one or the other colleague in my network in order to also find opportunities for exchange beyond the event. solutions.hamburg is an excellent platform for this.