SAS plays a leadership role in business analytics

Ashit Panjwani
utive Director Marketing, Sales & Alliances
SAS Institute (India) Pvt Ltd

Established in 1997 as awholly owned subsidiaryof SAS Institute Inc., SASIndia offers superiorsoftware and solutions foranalytics across variousindustry verticals.

In conversation with DivyaChawla from eHEALTH, Ashit Panjwani, utiveDirector Marketing, Sales& Alliances, SAS Institute(India) Pvt Ltd, sharesinsights into the businessof health and life sciencesvertical of SAS .

What are your views on the health IT market in India vis-avisthe global market?

The health IT market in India is reflecting a good growth rate and the growth trendsof India and the western countries are almost comparable. Some of the challenges thatthe health and life sciences industry face include pricing, pipeline pressures, date ofexpiry, and soaring drug development costs, among others. Also, intellectual propertyrights pose as a major challenge for these organisations. As a result of these challenges,these organisations have been key adapters of information technology to overcomethese challenges. So these are really exciting times for health IT vendors, especially SASas most of the healthcare organisations within the top 500 fortune companies workwith us. These healthcare organisations see tremendous amount of value involved in thesolutions we offer. There is a great opportunity in this market for the kind of solutionsthat we offer, especially for business analytics and we are seeing some excellent growthrates.

Please provide an overview of SAS and its presence in thehealthcare vertical in India. Do you feel growth in thehealthcare vertical is as dynamic as in other verticals?

SAS is the number one privately held company and the leader in the field of businessanalytics. We serve more than 45,000 customers, worldwide. In India, we have beenpresent for the last 10 years and play a leadership role in the field of analytics, here aswell and account for more than 50 percent of market share in this area.Health and life sciences is one of our key verticals and we have been working withmajor customers in this area, both globally as well as in India. We cater to various verticals or sectors within the life sciences sector including pharma, clinical researchorganisations and health insurance providers, among others. SAS has been extremelyexcited to work in this market and the kind of response that we have got from thismarket is extremely encouraging. In terms of analytics and data management, every ertical has different drivers for adopting our solutions. For instance, banking andfinance vertical may have risk- anagement as a motivating driver. As far as healthand life sciences space is concerned, it has a number of motivating factors for adopting our solutions. First is that with our solutions, these organisations are able to drasticallyreduce the drug launch time. Secondly whatever submissions they make through usare all FDA compliant. Also, the kind ofanalytics we have, helps organisations derive great amount of insights with thehuge clinical data that is generated.Please tell us aboutthe solutions you offerfor the health and lifesciences space.

The health and life sciences industryfaces key challenges and one of them isthe time taken by a drug manufacturer,right from the clinical trials phase tothe time it is launched in the market.The reason why this process is sotime consuming is because the resultanalysis involves huge amount of data management and analytics. To beable to compress this time cycle, thedata management process must behighly efficient, as data managementtakes more than 65 percent of the trialtime. By compressing this cycle, drugmanufacturers can launch their productsooner in the market sooner, whichresults in a quantifiable advantage forthem.

The second challenge is how toautomate the entire drug discoveryprocess, which can be addressed throughour solutions. The third area is physiciantargetting, which is another challengefaced by the organisations. SAS formsa channel for FDA submissions, which considerably reduces the time taken fororganisations to launch their products.We lso support various compliancestandards like CDISC—Clinical DataInterchange Standards Consortium,which is a standard for clinical datamanagement.

Do you have plans toventure into the hospitalsand diagnostics space, aswell?

We certainly have plans to extendour solutions beyond the life sciencesand the clinical research verticals. Oneof the key areas is health insurance,which is extremely interesting and weare planning to get into this segment forsure.Please enlist some of yourmajor clients in India.

We work with a number of customersin India such as Clinigene, Novo Nordisk,Novartis, Wyeth, GSK Pharma, Ranbaxy,QED Pharma, and several others. Wework with both global clients as well asIndian clinical research organisations.The level of IT penetration in healthcarein India is still catching up.Please share your viewson the scope of growth ofsolutions like PheedIT inIndia.PheedIT solution is a flagshipproduct for clinical data management. ITpenetration in healthcare in India is low,however, IT penetration within the clinicalpart of an organisation is extremely crucialbecause there is no other alternative formanaging data. With IT, the entire processof data management and analysis is goingto be extremely time consuming. SAS isalready an able organisation that createsdata in FDA format, which reduces thecycle time. Time is extremely important while launching a product in the market,as other drug manufacturers might be anning to launch a similar product inthe market. The advantage that SAS offersis that it not only helps organisations indata management, but it also does highendanalytics, which is an integral part oflaunching a drug in the market.

Please share yourexperiences on the recentdeployment of PheedIT atClinigene.

Clinigene is a very valued customer ofSAS and they use our solution PheedITfor complete end-to-end clinical datamanagement. When a drug goes throughvarious processes of a trial cycle, a hugeamount of data is generate, which needsto be analysed and this is the kind ofchallenge that Clinigene was facing and bydeploying PheedIT, they have been able to vercome this challenge to a huge extent.Other challenges that Clinigene was facingwere patient recruitment and motivatingpatients to come back for clinical trials,how to manage data and how to use these results for deciding the launch cycle. WithPheedIT, Clinigene not only reduced thetrial time, but also overcome variousother challenges attached to launchingdrugs in the market.

We plan to keep the right focus with customersand offer the kind of analytics that can benefitour customers. We want to help our clients in their journey towards embracing our solutions.

What is the approximateinvestment required toadopt your solutions?

The amount of investment dependsupon what exactly the organisationwants, the stage at which they are andwhat exactly they want to do. Our teamworks with these organisations to analysethe amount of work required. We work with both aspirational organisationsand organisations that have establishedthemselves. So there is a value proposition of an emerging organisation and anestablished organisations.

What strategies do youfollow to maintain yourfootprint in the health ITspace?

Our focus has always been on thecustomer and we will continue to do that.This approach, we believe, will itself takecare of the competition.what are the major opportunities and growthprospects do you see in theIndian market?

A great opportunity is generatingan enterprise-wide solution for healthand life science customers. Anotheropportunity that we see is in the area of drug development and how our solutionsget deployed for drug developmentprocesses. Third area is clinical dataintegration as a lot of data gets generatedduring various processes and how this data can be integrated for analysis.

What are the majorchallenges in the field?

We have been fortunate enough tonot encounter any major challenges.But some of the basic problem faced isthe culture of the organisation, whichis extremely important. Converting amanual process to an automated processis difficult and requires some amount of cultural change. Secondly, maintainingthe quality of data is a challenge andthirdly, the source in which the data existsmay pose some difficulties, but all thesecan be overcome.

What is the importance ofregulatory standards in this space?

There are various global regulatorybodies and all the pharma companiesare following the standards laid by thesebodies. There is FDA and CDISC—whichlooks into the technological aspect andensures that the clinical data providedis in the right format. These bodies onthe whole ensure that the data providedis accurate enough to be used for drugdevelopment. Best part about SAS isthat whatever we do is compliant with the standards laid by all these regulatorybodies.

What are your plans forfuture growth?

We plan to keep the right focus withcustomers and offer the kind of analyticsthat can benefit our customers. We wantto help our clients in their journey towardsembracing our solutions.

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