ELITE 2018 Digital Crusader Ryad Ali of Novartis

Ryad Ali

Head of Medical Digital Strategy


Pioneering Digital-Pharma Firsts

One of Ryad Ali’s long-term goals is to help take disruptive technologies to a global scale, in order to help ensure these new kinds of technologies are aiding a greater number of patients. And if there is anyone who can do it, it might just be Ryad, who has been on the forefront of many digital innovations in pharma.

For instance, Ryad helped Novartis to become one of the first pharma companies to create a medical information system with an iPad sales representative app that would allow healthcare professionals to connect with the company’s medical information staff over video in order to answer medical questions. Yes, FaceTime is standard today, but Ryad achieved this back in 2010, and keep in mind these video chats had to be pharma compliant. At the time, Cisco—the makers of WebEx technology, which they used to help make this happen—said this wasn’t even possible. Instead of sending someone a meeting invite, this required a meeting to be able to happen at any time.

Ryad and his team were also responsible for the first Twitter handle focused specifically on oncology clinical trials. That was also harder than it sounds. Twitter is a global platform, but these clinical trials were solely U.S.-based, so Ryad and the team had to seek many global approvals to ensure compliance.

More recently, Ryad and his team have been working on a project dedicated to improving clinical trial recruitment and trial feasibility. To do so, they are applying newer big data techniques and integrating it into EMR systems to make it easier to determine if a patient is a fit for a particular clinical trial design.

Currently, Ryad is leading other global initiatives. He is working with IBM Watson to explore development of a cognitive solution that uses real-world data and advanced analytical techniques with the aim to provide better insights on the expected outcomes of breast cancer treatment options. And he is working with large imaging companies such as Phillips, on new technology to help diagnose cancer earlier. In other words, wherever digital and pharma meet, Ryad is most likely standing right at the intersection.


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