Executive Director âÂ Marketing, Sales & Alliances
SAS Institute (India) Pvt Ltd
Established in 1997 as aÂ wholly owned subsidiaryÂ of SAS Institute Inc., SASÂ India offers superiorÂ software and solutions forÂ analytics across variousÂ industry verticals.
In conversation with DivyaÂ Chawla from eHEALTH, Â Ashit Panjwani, ExecutiveÂ Director â Marketing, SalesÂ & Alliances, SAS InstituteÂ (India) Pvt Ltd, sharesÂ insights into the businessÂ of health and life sciencesÂ vertical of SAS .
What are your views on the health IT market in India vis-avisÂ the global market?
The health IT market in India is reflecting a good growth rate and the growth trendsÂ of India and the western countries are almost comparable. Some of the challenges thatthe health and life sciences industry face include pricing, pipeline Â pressures, date ofÂ expiry, and soaring drug development costs, among others. Also, intellectual propertyÂ rights pose as a major challenge for these organisations. As a result of these challenges,Â these organisations have been key adapters of information technology to overcomeÂ these challenges. So these are really exciting times for health IT vendors, especially SASÂ as most of the healthcare organisations within the top 500 fortune companies workÂ with us. These healthcare organisations see tremendous amount of value involved in theÂ solutions we offer. There is a great opportunity in this market for the kind of solutionsÂ that we offer, especially for business analytics and we are seeing some excellent growthÂ rates.
Please provide an overview of SAS and its presence in theÂ healthcare vertical in India. Do you feel growth in theÂ healthcare vertical is as dynamic as in other verticals?
SAS is the number one privately held company and the leader in the field of businessÂ analytics. We serve more than 45,000 customers, worldwide. In India, we have beenÂ present for the last 10 years and play a leadership role in the field Â of analytics, here asÂ well and account for more than 50 percent of market share in this area.Â Health and life sciences is one of our key verticals and we have been working withÂ major customers in this area, both globally as well as in India. We Â cater to various Â verticals or sectors within the life sciences sector including pharma, clinical researchÂ organisations and health insurance providers, among others. SAS has been extremelyÂ excited to work in this market and the kind of Â response that we have got from thisÂ market is extremely encouraging. In terms of analytics and data management, every Â Â ertical has different drivers for adopting our solutions. For instance, banking andÂ finance vertical may have risk- anagement as a motivating driver. As far as healthÂ and life sciences space is concerned, it has a number of motivating factors for adopting Â our solutions. First is that with our solutions, these organisations are able to drasticallyreduce the drug launch time. Secondly whatever submissions they make through usÂ are all FDA compliant. Also, the kind ofanalytics Â we have, helps organisations derive great amount of insights with theÂ huge clinical data that is generated.Â Please tell us aboutÂ the solutions you offerÂ for the health and lifeÂ sciences space.
The health and life sciences industryÂ faces key challenges and one of them isÂ the time taken by a drug manufacturer,Â right from the clinical trials phase toÂ the time it is launched in the market.Â The reason why this process is soÂ time consuming is because the resultÂ analysis involves huge amount of data management and analytics. To beÂ able to compress this time cycle, theÂ data management process must beÂ highly efficient, as data managementÂ takes more than 65 percent of the trialÂ time. By compressing this cycle, drugÂ manufacturers can launch their productÂ sooner in the market sooner, whichÂ results in a quantifiable advantage forÂ them.
The second challenge is how toÂ automate the entire drug discoveryÂ process, which can be addressed throughÂ our solutions. The third area is physicianÂ targetting, which is another challengeÂ faced by the organisations. SAS formsÂ a channel for FDA submissions, which Â considerably reduces the time taken forÂ organisations to launch their products.Â We Â lso support various complianceÂ standards like CDISCâClinical DataInterchange Standards Consortium,which is a standard for clinical dataÂ management.
Do you have plans toÂ venture into the hospitalsÂ and diagnostics space, asÂ well?Â
We certainly have plans to extendÂ our solutions beyond the life sciencesÂ and the clinical research verticals. OneÂ of the key areas is health insurance,Â which is extremely interesting and weÂ are planning to get into this segment forÂ sure.Â Please enlist some of yourÂ major clients in India.
We work with a number of customersÂ in India such as Clinigene, Novo Nordisk,Â Novartis, Wyeth, GSK Pharma, Ranbaxy,Â QED Pharma, and several others. WeÂ work with both global clients as well asÂ Indian clinical research organisations.Â The level of IT penetration in healthcareÂ in India is still catching up.Â Please share your viewsÂ on the scope of growth ofÂ solutions like PheedIT inÂ India.Â PheedIT solution is a flagshipÂ product for clinical data management. ITÂ penetration in healthcare in India is low,Â however, IT penetration within the clinicalÂ part of an organisation is extremely crucialÂ because there is no other alternative forÂ managing data. With IT, the entire processÂ of data management and analysis is goingÂ to be extremely time consuming. SAS isÂ already an able organisation that createsÂ data in FDA format, which reduces theÂ cycle time. Time is extremely important while launching a product in the market,Â as Â other drug manufacturers might be Â Â anning to launch a similar product inÂ the market. The advantage that SAS offersÂ is that it not only helps organisations indata management, but it also does highendÂ analytics, which is an integral part ofÂ launching a drug in the market.
Please share yourÂ experiences on the recentÂ deployment of PheedIT atÂ Clinigene.
Clinigene is a very valued customer ofÂ SAS and they use our solution PheedITÂ for complete end-to-end clinical dataÂ management. When a drug goes throughÂ various processes of a trial cycle, a hugeÂ amount of data is generate, which needsÂ to be analysed and this is the kind ofÂ challenge that Clinigene was facing and byÂ deploying PheedIT, they have been able to Â vercome this challenge to a huge extent.Â Other challenges that Clinigene was facingÂ were patient recruitment and motivatingpatients to come back for clinical trials,Â how to manage data and how to use these Â results for deciding the launch cycle. WithÂ PheedIT, Clinigene not only reduced theÂ trial time, but also overcome variousÂ other challenges attached to launchingÂ drugs in the market.
âWe plan to keep the right focus with customersÂ and offer the kind of analytics that can benefitÂ our customers. We want to help our clients in their journey towards embracing our solutions.â
What is the approximateÂ investment required toÂ adopt your solutions?
The amount of investment dependsÂ upon what exactly the organisationÂ wants, the stage at which they are andÂ what exactly they want to do. Our teamÂ works with these organisations to analyseÂ the amount of work required. We work Â with both aspirational organisationsÂ and organisations that have establishedÂ themselves. So there is a value proposition Â of an emerging organisation and anÂ established organisations.
What strategies do youÂ follow to maintain yourÂ footprint in the health ITÂ space?
Our focus has always been on theÂ customer and we will continue to do that.Â This approach, we believe, will itself takeÂ care of the competition.Â what are the major Â opportunities and growthÂ prospects do you see in theÂ Indian market?
A great opportunity is generatingÂ an enterprise-wide solution for healthÂ and life science customers. AnotherÂ opportunity that we see is in the area of Â drug development and how our solutionsÂ get deployed for drug developmentÂ processes. Third area is clinical dataÂ integration as a lot of data gets generatedÂ during various processes and how this Â data can be integrated for analysis.
What are the majorÂ challenges in the field?Â
We have been fortunate enough toÂ not encounter any major challenges.Â But some of the basic problem faced isÂ the culture of the organisation, whichÂ is extremely important. Converting aÂ manual process to an automated processÂ is difficult and requires some amount of Â cultural change. Secondly, maintainingÂ the quality of data is a challenge andÂ thirdly, the source in which the data existsÂ may pose some difficulties, but all theseÂ can be overcome.
What is the importance ofÂ regulatory standards in this space?
There are various global regulatoryÂ bodies and all the pharma companiesÂ are following the standards laid by theseÂ bodies. There is FDA and CDISCâwhichÂ looks into the technological aspect andÂ ensures that the clinical data providedÂ is in the right format. These bodies onÂ the whole ensure that the data providedÂ is accurate enough to be used for drugÂ development. Best part about SAS isÂ that whatever we do is compliant with Â the standards laid by all these regulatoryÂ bodies.
What are your plans forÂ future growth?
We plan to keep the right focus withÂ customers and offer the kind of analyticsÂ that can benefit our customers. We wantÂ to help our clients in their journey towardsÂ embracing our solutions.