Last week, members of the Infinitus team attended Asembia’s AXS24 Summit, the annual conference that brings together leaders from across the pharmaceutical landscape to discuss the industry’s biggest trends, issues, and developments.

Every Asembia summit is a chance to learn – and not only from speakers who take the stage – and this year’s conference was no exception. While it’s impossible for one team to attend every presentation or visit every booth, here are five themes that stood out from the sessions we saw, client conversations we had, and discussions that occurred at our booth in the exhibition hall.

1. Doing more with less

There’s increasing pressure on pharmaceutical companies, hubs, and specialty pharmacies to enhance efficiency and achieve more with fewer resources (see more in our recent report). This industry-wide mandate stems largely from the need to reduce healthcare costs while maintaining or improving service quality; although the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was mentioned in plenty of conversations too. In response, stakeholders are looking for innovative solutions that can help them best serve patients while spending less in the process.

Discussions at the summit revealed how financial pressures are reshaping business strategies across the board. For instance, pharma hubs that traditionally relied solely on human workers are now considering how AI can be integrated into their operational frameworks to cope with financial constraints imposed upon them by their pharmaceutical customers. Others were actively seeking ways to differentiate themselves through value-added services while managing costs.

2. Concern over who will foot the bill from IRA changes

We heard two points of view at the conference related to changes on the horizon from the IRA. On one hand, giving Medicare the ability to negotiate prices on prescription drugs is a major positive – more patients should be able to afford life-saving medications. Today, Medicare cannot negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies, leading to potentially higher costs for beneficiaries. There’s also currently no cap on out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Part D, which can lead to high financial burdens for patients with chronic conditions.

On the other hand, every healthcare company is a revenue-generating business and needs to return a profit to its stakeholders. If insurers need to cover more of Medicare beneficiaries’ drug costs, those losses need to be recouped somehow, possibly leading to tightening spend in other areas, or causing a rise in patient premiums or loss of coverage due to new plan designs. Today the average Medicare beneficiary has access to 43 Medicare Advantage plans, and while there aren’t caps on out-of-pocket costs, premiums might be lower for some plans. The IRA changes could reduce patient choices in plan design and network access going forward. 

3.  More AI education is needed

There’s a need for AI education within the pharma ecosystem. This demand stems from the growing necessity to adopt AI technologies to improve efficiency and manage costs in light of increasing economic pressures within the healthcare industry as outlined above – and to be in a position to do so as soon as possible. 

There was a major emphasis on patient outcomes at this year’s summit. We believe AI can be effective at helping improve medication access and adherence, but there’s still lack of trust surrounding the technology, which could hinder its adoption and optimal utilization. By facilitating a stronger understanding of AI through dedicated educational efforts, pharma leaders could ensure that integration translates into real-world benefits such as increased access to medicine, enhanced patient care, and organizational efficiency.

4. Prior authorization is still a problem

Despite numerous attempts to streamline it, prior authorization continues to be a significant bottleneck. The prior auth process is still largely manual, time-consuming, and fraught with delays. This inefficiency not only affects the operational workflows of pharmacies and healthcare providers, but also impacts patient care by delaying access to necessary medications. 

The inefficiencies and complexities of prior authorization processes represent an urgent area for improvement. Conversations we had highlighted the industry’s need for more innovative solutions that leverage technology to simplify and expedite the prior auth process. The drive to refine this process also presents a substantial opportunity for tech companies and startups to provide solutions that could significantly impact the healthcare delivery landscape.

5. Phone calls and faxes are also still a problem

There is still a reliance on phone calls and faxes for data exchange within the healthcare system. This dependency on old technologies not only hampers efficiency but also contributes to delays and errors in patient care delivery – an immediate black mark on the patient experience. As healthcare continues to evolve at a rapid pace, the contrast between the cutting-edge treatments being developed and the antiquated methods of administrative communication is stark. Infinitus aims to change that.

We had plenty of conversations at our booth about the need for modernizing data transfer processes in healthcare to improve the speed and accuracy of information flows, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes and streamlined operations. Those we spoke to were keen on adopting solutions that can free up resources and reduce human error, allowing them to focus more on patient care rather than administrative tasks. If this sounds like something you’d like to achieve as well, check out a demo or reach out to us today.