The Opportunities of Intelligent Enterprise Search: Harnessing Invisible Content in the Healthcare Industry

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Medicine doctor and stethoscope in hand touching icon medical network connection with modern virtual screen interface, medical technology network concept

By Jeff Evernham, VP Product Strategy at Sinequa

Google may have taken over search for the world wide web but building a search tool for modern enterprises is an even more difficult task – and what business can invest as much energy into search as Google? In the health and life sciences industry, where content is often unstructured, incorrectly tagged and scattered throughout the business in data silos, a successful search solution must be highly refined, because mishandling a nuance can mean the difference between success or failure. Most of the solutions in place for these organisations do not reach this standard, despite big investments and specialised systems. Intelligent search offers a viable and trustworthy solution for health and life sciences organisations to meet this standard, providing an unparalleled opportunity to harness content, improve competitive advantage and enable organisations to become truly information-driven.

In this final article of the three-part series, I will explore the potential of intelligent search to improve efficiency and accelerate innovation within health and life sciences organisations.

What is intelligent search?

Intelligent search is a major jump beyond the abilities of traditional search engines, which are generally limited to keyword matching. It uses natural language understanding and deep learning to spot relationships and patterns within unstructured text to understand the user’s intent. Then it delivers results that are relevant and meaningful, including related information and supplementary material: information in context. When referring to intelligent search in the Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines 2019, Gartner said that “in contrast to search engines that provide links to original source materials such as documents and videos, insight engines can also provide contextual information about the fact or entity in question.” 

The far-reaching benefits of intelligent search

Providing enterprises with one unified solution to access internal and external information has several benefits. It can increase employee productivity, operational efficiency, and innovation, resulting in the development of sustainable competitive advantage. Let’s take a closer look at three outcomes when employees can easily get the information they need. 

  • An efficient workforce

Intelligent search is a one-stop solution for improving efficiency. As highlighted in my previous articles, searching for information is a barrier to productivity and a huge waste of employee time. In the health and life sciences industry, employees need to be able to quickly surface a research report, a clinical trial result, or find the most knowledgeable person on a topic. Intelligent search can locate those documents and offer context and associated information. It accelerates access to insights and helps employees to make informed decisions as required by the nature of research. 

Reducing the search time for information frees up employees to do their job more effectively. Streamlining operations in this way magnifies productivity and helps improve job satisfaction – reducing staff turnover in the long term. Implementing a search tool that combines different sources and formats of information in one place is the first step to overcoming the common challenge of data silos, promoting cost savings and, ultimately, greater profitability.

  • Augmented innovation

The drug development process for health and life sciences organisations is complex and involves a multitude of intricate steps. Each stage involves the use and analysis of information, which can pose challenges to researchers if they are unable to find or analyse all aspects of the compound and its effects. By automatically looking across many siloed data sources with a single application, intelligent search enhances human capabilities and supports researchers with a full picture of information, organised and analysed and in context, enabling them to unlock new insights. 

  • Reduced risk

What is the cost of not having a full picture of a drug’s safety profile, because some information is hidden away in a hard-to-access system? What is the cost of not having a comprehensive view of clinical trial results because they’re scattered across multiple datasets? What opportunities are missed if a critical comment in a lab notebook or doctor’s note goes unnoticed? These are risks that health and life sciences companies face every day, exacerbated by the inefficiencies of relying on outdated tools. Intelligent search minimizes these risks by ensuring that this information is available to who needs it when it’s needed, whether that’s a research team looking at adverse events or a clinical team responding to a regulatory request for information.

The future of search in healthcare

It’s clear that leveraging your information and augmenting the user experience can build upon the current capabilities of health and life sciences organisations to ensure a pipeline of successful, life-saving innovations, but what else should we expect from intelligent search?

  • Search-based applications

Similar to search apps we use every day, health and life sciences organisations have unique needs, many that can be met with applications powered by search. The potential for search-based applications in healthcare is unlimited, as organisations can use the capabilities of intelligent search to create personalised apps that can maximise the potential of any area of the business. 

  • Searching video and audio using transcription

In line with the growth of audio and video content – webinars, recorded Zoom meetings, keynote speeches – health and life sciences organisations need access to this information too. Intelligent search platforms can mine transcripts of this content so that knowledge is never lost.

  • Conversational UI

Intelligent AI assistants like Alexa and Siri are becoming more and more popular every year. Such assistants may seem quaint for the needs of a researcher, but the ability to ask questions in natural language and get back answers on difficult and complex subjects is right around the corner. Question-answering abilities will soon be integrated into intelligent search so that healthcare professionals can answer complex queries, even with their hands full.

  • Personalised experiences

As previously mentioned, today’s intelligent search learns your behaviour to provide better search results for individuals while gaining proficiency over time. Intelligent search tools understand you as a user – your context, your work, and your previous actions – leading to richer insights and more precise information extraction. 

Final thoughts

As I have explored throughout this series, health and life science companies depend on information to power innovation, time-to-market, competitiveness, and efficiency. But it’s difficult to harness textual data: there’s too much of it, it’s disparate, siloed, poorly organized, and always growing. Technology can help, but until recently it was impossible to bring a Google-like experience to the enterprise. The power of intelligent search to surface the right information at the right time and provide both a holistic view and the salient details can help you to realize the full value of your data and bring new levels of performance.

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