When There’s Nowhere to Turn

Sep 27, 2016

Providing Value though Technology in a Rare Disease World

George Llado, SVP and Chief Information Officer of Alexion, cringes when he hears people use the term IT in relation to his role.  “IT sounds like a back-room engine providing fuel and keeping things running, but it doesn’t suggest deep value.”  Llado takes the information side of his title incredibly seriously. “I focus on using information to advance outcomes and value across our entire business, increase productivity, drive revenue, and ultimately save lives.” 

Llado’s passion for orchestrating value through information has found a fitting home at Alexion, a global biopharmaceutical company devoted to discovering, developing and delivering life-transforming therapies for patients with devastating and rare diseases.

The illnesses that Alexion focuses on are so rare, most doctors don’t even hear about them in medical school, and patients typically face a long road to diagnosis.  Llado, who spent 25 years in large pharma, contrasts the mission of his previous world with that of Alexion.  “Large pharma companies make great products, employ a strong marketing machine, and engage patients who KNOW and are AWARE of their disease state.  They appeal to a mass audience.” For Alexion, the mission is much more complex, as the diseases are historically poorly understood and have few, if any, effective treatment options.  There’s no one to follow.

That’s where Llado comes in.  “Using data and sophisticated technology to detect trends and signals can potentially help us better understand the patient experience of living with one of the four diseases our medicines treat.  This is my number one mission.”  His enormous challenge – and opportunity – is to harness digital channels and close partners to enable a better understanding of these diseases and the needs of patients suffering from them.

Protecting Product Comes Next

If serving patients with rare and devastating diseases is mission number one for Llado, then protecting the products that Alexion is working so hard to develop and get into the hands of those patients comes close behind.  Llado’s team has partnered with TraceLink to tackle the upcoming transition to a serialized world.  Like any other pharma company investing heavily in drug development, Alexion is highly motivated to keep a tight rein over its supply chain, and Llado knows that serialization will help. 

He also believes in the cloud as the key to greater integration and coagulation among information, technology, and progress.  TraceLink employs cloud architecture, and Llado has fast-tracked Alexion’s own move to the cloud.  He knows that many pharma companies map out a two- to three-year migration plan, but he’s challenged his team to do it in six months, understanding the business value. 

At the end of the day, it’s all part of the race to serve people with devastating diseases that are often overlooked and have a long lead time to diagnosis.  “I’d like to think that my team integrates and orchestrates information across our company to bridge the gap from disease onset to getting an accurate diagnosis to starting treatment,” Llado concludes.  “Much different than a traditional CIO role, but I welcome the challenge.” 

George Llado is one of the keynote speakers at NEXUS ’16 in Boston from October 19 – 20, discussing why “every dose matters” and how serialization and track and trace are fundamental components in patient safety. Register here for NEXUS ’16, taking place at the Revere Hotel in Boston to collaborate with pharmaceutical and industry life science leaders discussing the impact of global traceability in the supply chain. 

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