My friend Fard Johnmar, founder and president of Enspektos, recently identified a few issues facing the drug industry as it tries keep up with digital innovation in the health field:

  1. Pharmaceutical executives are flooded with digital health opportunities: Many startups and established companies are coming to drug firms with a range of innovations, from mobile health solutions to smart pills. 
  2. Executives and leaders at these firms are having trouble triaging these innovations to determine which ones will meet key organizational, business and health goals.  
  3. Companies are working hard to drive digital health innovation from within: A number of firms have created internal innovation groups that are responsible for locating, developing and supporting the integration of digital health technologies into their operations. There is a special need for this work in developing countries like Brazil and China.
[Read: Can Pharma “Triage” All the Digital Innovation Ideas Coming Through Its Doors?]

Let’s take a look at some innovations “flooding” the drug industry and how the industry is managing that flood.

In my mind, the first drug company to attempt to identify and support digital innovations that might benefit healthcare in general and its bottom line in particular was Bayer Pharma AG in Germany. In 2013, Bayer started its Grants4Apps® program, which offers financial support to innovative healthcare startups and developer teams all around the globe! I presented presented at one of the first Grants4Apps meetings in June 2013 (see “Bayer Pharma Meets Pharmaguy Meets Healthcare App Startups“) and in 2015 the Bayer Grants4Apps® team received the 6th Annual Pharmaguy SoMobile Pioneer Award (see embedded scoop below)!

Since then, many other pharma companies have joined the “Pharma Digital Health Accelerator Club” as I like to call it. Here are a few members I have come across: