AstraZeneca well placed to use Medtech to expand in Chinese healthcare market, says GlobalData

The Chinese Internet giants will develop smart health services, AI-assisted screening and diagnosis tools for the British pharma giant


New Delhi: AstraZeneca is well positioned to use artificial intelligence (AI), robots and apps (Medtech) to expand its market share, and transform diagnosis and disease management in the world’s second largest pharma market—China, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.

The company’s CEO Pascal Soriot has recently announced plans to use Medtech in China, which has the highest incidences of several chronic diseases in the world, such as cancer and diabetes. They are expected to increase as a result of the westernized lifestyle and the rapidly aging population.

Recognizing the importance of the rapid development of biotechnology in addressing challenges faced by the country’s healthcare system, the government aligned biotech development with the pharmaceutical sector under its 13th Five-Year Plan (2015–2020), the ‘Healthy China 2030 Plan’ and the ‘Made in China 2025’ plan.

According to a recent survey ‘Digital Transformations and Emerging Technologies in the Healthcare Industry – H2 2018’ by GlobalData, AI, APIs, and the Internet of Things (IoT)—including smart apps and devices—are the three most popular emerging technologies that healthcare organizations are looking to invest into in the near future.

Several independent companies are seeking to break into the healthcare industry by offering their ever-expanding and improving devices and services to aid patient data collection and aggregation, screening and diagnosis, and personalized medication decision-making.

However, implementation of these fast-evolving technologies in healthcare is not easy. According to the survey, insufficient funding and lack of specific skills and talents are the most critical barriers that hinder digital transformation within healthcare organizations.

Edit Kovalcsik, Managing Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Although digital transformation holds promise to build a more efficient and cost-effective healthcare system, its adaptation in healthcare is slowed by concerns such as patient data protection, regulatory issues, cybersecurity, and even work overload on the already low supply of trained experts if innovative devices and services are used incorrectly.”

AstraZeneca established its initial presence in China in 1993. The country was AstraZeneca’s second largest market in 2017, according to AstraZeneca’s Annual Report. Earlier this year, the company announced partnerships with Alibaba and Tencent to provide a broader health service in China than simply selling drugs. The Chinese Internet giants will develop smart health services, AI-assisted screening and diagnosis tools for the British pharma giant.

Kovalcsik concludes: “Investing in Medtech underlines AstraZeneca’s commitment to remain a leading pharma player in China. Effective management of chronic diseases will drive the Chinese pharma industry in the coming years, in which the use of smart app-, AI-, and robotics-assisted diagnosis and patient care will be critical components to overcome current issues of insufficient supply of doctors to meet growing demand, potentially facilitating China’s journey to become the world’s largest pharmaceutical market.”