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susangaler
Advisor
Advisor
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Buoyed by the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines, the life sciences industry is on track for a succession of upheavals already transforming patient care, business models, and market dynamics. In fact, it’s impossible to separate the transformational threads between personalized medicine, groundbreaking therapeutic innovations, and a churning ecosystem of players, some traditional and others to be named later. Here’s a sampling of the latest life sciences trends with the greatest import for business and patients.


With the advent of personalized medicine, market watchers see organizations interacting in new ways, maybe with unanticipated partners – all for the best of patient care.


Intelligent digital platforms emerge

Like every industry, life sciences depends on the secure exchange of data between numerous groups across a value chain that stretches from raw ingredient sourcing to research and development, commercial launch, and product distribution. Connected, quality information on intelligent digital platforms is expected to support cost-efficient, sustainable medicine and therapies.

IDC analysts predicted that by the end of 2024, transparency improvements driven by drug serialization and traceability mandates will translate into 20% reduction in revenue leakage at life science companies worldwide. They said by the next year, 50% of life science organizations will adopt intelligent tech platforms to embrace sustainability-by-design strategies and track value chain emissions across sites, processes, and products. By 2025, IDC experts predicted 60% of life science firms will use health data platforms for physician engagement and patient journey processes, 65% to support regulatory submissions, and 35% to support value-based pricing.

As everyone discovered during the pandemic, speed to market is imperative. No doubt that’s why Gartner researchers predicted the growth of RNA products will lead half of the top 25 pharmaceutical companies to double clinical supply chain investments by 2025. By the following year, IDC analysts expected investments in integrated supply chain management will help 50% of global life science manufacturers increase revenue by avoiding stockouts of active ingredients and supplies.

“Digitalization provides organizations with the agility to meet post-pandemic norms including specialty treatments for targeted populations and individuals, as well as remote care,” said Mandar Paralkar, head of life sciences industry at SAP. “For example, companies need data alignment between manufacturing and regulations to ramp up supply chains quickly so they can safely meet market demands. SAP S/4HANA Cloud captures detailed information by product attribute, allowing companies to map accurate documentation to country-specific regulations for faster approvals.”

Disruptive partnerships reshape life sciences ecosystem

With the advent of personalized medicine, market watchers see organizations interacting in new ways, maybe with unanticipated partners – all for the best of patient care.

Gartner analysts expected a “push towards digital trials with decentralized and virtual capabilities…laying the groundwork for improved accessibility of trial services, either at a patient's home or other localities.” Translation, clinical research drug trials are coming to your local pharmacy. Even better, this shift could fuel diversity and inclusion. By 2026, Gartner researchers predicted over 60% of retail pharmacies will conduct clinical research, helping to support life science trial diversity requirements.

As for those new partners, Gartner researchers said startups that “may or may not be defined as traditional healthcare players” will disrupt life sciences ecosystems. They predicted by 2026, a “blockbuster” therapy will bypass incumbent pharmaceutical manufacturers — and force them to partner on a digital disruptor’s terms.

This is probably why Forrester analysts warned against providers viewing their ecosystem relationships as purely transactional. They advised ecosystem stakeholders including pharmaceuticals, healthcare providers, regulators, and insurers, to proactively engage in technical and organizational collaboration and knowledge sharing.

“There’s a convergence between advancements in drug development and delivery, devices, and patient care that’s altering how biopharma companies collaborate with the entire ecosystem,” Paralkar. “Initially, value chains have ensured traceability for product quality. We see this expanding to a larger business network of life sciences industry partners working together for cost-effective operational excellence and innovations leading to improved patient outcomes and eventually, stronger profits.”

Advanced technologies for patient-centric drug development

Data-driven, AI-based drug development is behind many of the latest life sciences innovations. Case in point are “in silico” methodologies that use computer-based simulation to help pharmaceutical companies speed up potential drug discovery. In one Gartner survey, 51% of clients said they were increasing investments in “AI/machine learning”, which are foundational to silico simulation. IDC analysts predicted that by 2026, drug discovery will reach an inflection point where in silico strategies overtake traditional bench-based research at major pharmaceutical companies. In that same year, IDC researchers expected the adoption of AI-based drug design by the life science industry to grow by 65%, fueled by a focus on precision medicine and a fast-growing ecosystem of innovative tech start-ups.

Which brings us full circle to the deeply entwined relationship between personalized medicine, technology innovations, and evolving partnerships. Yes, the pandemic crashed into the world with a huge wave of change, but if these predictions are any kind of guide, there’s much more  life sciences innovation to come.

Follow me @smgaler

This blog also appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.

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