Life Sciences at Ordina, from compliance to innovation: meet the expert.

Bart Briers

A pharmaceutical company that wants to use data to speed up its research processes. A biotech player that wants help in validating its systems. A hospital that wants to investigate the potential of software robots. Ordina’s life sciences business unit offers each of them a customised solution. Bart Briers has been in charge of the department since October 2017. What challenges do players in the pharmaceutical, biotech and other medical sectors face? And what makes Ordina the ideal partner to offer them support?

“Compliance is one of the biggest challenges for pharmaceutical and biotech companies,” Bart starts off. “They have to fulfil highly complex rules and compliance regulations. These may be technical product requirements as well as regulations governing market access and concerning the use of big data and medical data. In addition, they have to adhere to good manufacturing and distribution practices throughout the entire chain, which also includes IT development. All companies in the sector struggle with achieving the right balance between compliance and innovation.”

Complex rules and regulations

Bart Briers came face to face with these challenges for the first time in 2004: “I was an IT consultant working with a former employer when a colleague suggested that we delve into compliance for pharmaceutical companies. She was a software tester at a pharmaceutical company and came up against lots of legislation that had to be met.” Bart immersed himself in the complex world of regulations and validation governing pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Expanding the range of solutions

Before he knew it, Bart was one of the founders of the life sciences compliance unit. Later he became a member of the board of directors and supervised the start-up of a health solutions branch. After 21 years he changed course and took a job at Ordina. His ambition: to broaden the Ordina range of life sciences solutions. “We know the sector, we have experts in legislation and regulations and we’re ace at IT. That’s the perfect cocktail for supporting pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the challenges they face. And that involves more than just compliance,” he explains.

The clock’s ticking

“Life sciences is a fast-growing and dynamic sector. But the market is extremely competitive,” Bart continues. “Pharmaceutical companies have been riding on the success of blockbuster medicines for years. Today they have to come up with new drugs for niche markets. That means a lot of market research and pharmaceutical research in order to find and develop the drugs that will put them on the map. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking relentlessly: staying head of the competition is a real race against time. With budgets that are also shrinking and the bar for quality bar getting higher.”

The power of data and technology

Bart believes in using the power of technology to meet those challenges: “Trusted IT solutions such as ERP systems or other packages can help pharmaceutical and biotech companies work more efficiently and save costs. However, new developments such as the Internet of Things (IoT) or Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) can also offer real added value. In addition to this, I see a huge number of opportunities in big data. The sector is sitting on a mountain of data: from research data and clinical data (from doctors, labs, hospitals) to blogs or posts on social media. That data can provide valuable insights that advance research into or marketing of new products.”

From analysis and advice through to implementation

Since Bart came on board, Ordina has acquired a great number of new customers from the life sciences sector. So what’s his secret formula? “We speak the same language as the pharmaceutical and biotech companies. In our business unit, IT professionals work together with data scientists and pharmacists, bio-engineers and other experts who know the industry inside out. This means that we understand the needs and can work alongside customers to develop applications and then provide validation. We also work very closely with other specialists within Ordina, such as security, privacy or robotic process automation experts. This level of expertise and service makes us really unique in the market.”

The threat of disruption

Are pharmaceutical and biotech companies ready for far-reaching digitisation? Bart: “The sector has long been rather conservative. But that’s changing fast. Members of this sector today realise that players like Microsoft and Google have vast amounts of valuable data from their specific fields, which they can use to come up with innovative services or business models. Amazon Business has shelved its plans to distribute medicines for the time being but may well come out with a disruptive model in the future. The threat of these disruptors is really making itself felt. In recent months we’ve received a lot of demands for innovative solutions. For example, for tracking drugs via the Internet of Things (IoT), or for tracking fake drugs. We get great satisfaction out of translating these challenges into specific applications. These are really incredibly exciting times!”

Would you like to know how the life sciences business unit can also help you? Get in touch with Bart.