We live in a world of technological wonders. Everyday, innovation brings amazing new possibilities, along with chances to improve health and quality of life for more people than ever before.
Progress, however, inevitably comes with costs, often heavy. For every technological breakthrough, there are thousands of near-misses, half-measures, and utter failures. Nowhere are the costs of innovation more apparent than in pursuit of new frontiers in life sciences.
To help us navigate this ever changing industry landscape, Deloitte has highlighted several of the biggest issues facing the life sciences industry in its 2018 Global and US Life Sciences Outlook. Here are our thoughts on the findings.
1 Change is a good thing
Desktop computers led to laptops. Cell phones led to smartphones. Each technological milestone lights the path to the next milestone. Even in the last decade, the life sciences industry has experienced disruptive innovations in data science, genomics, and immunotherapy.
Moving forward, successful organizations in life sciences will embrace cutting-edge technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence, while scientists and administrators must prepare for a constantly shifting landscape.
2 Less hierarchy, more autonomy
Top-down decision hierarchies will become less and less effective in the near future. Avoiding collaboration in favor of a strategy set by a single executive decision maker will become increasingly anachronistic. Companies must embrace new, hyperflexible communication paradigms and use them to cultivate new ideas. The organizations that do so will enjoy unprecedented gains in efficiency and impact.
The life sciences organization of the future will rely on highly-skilled teams with more autonomy than ever before. These teams pool talent and resources from across the globe, relying on integrated digital communication and paperless workflows to collaborate anytime, anywhere, using a range of devices. They automate processes whenever possible and integrate essential human skills with technology to improve execution.
3 Quality compliance
Technological innovation will force organizations to deal with additional cybersecurity regulations in addition to the traditionally arduous regulations implicit to life sciences. Regulatory bodies must continuously modify policies to keep pace with the new technological capabilities of their respective industries and organizations. Life sciences organizations must not only find more efficient methods of meeting existing compliance standards, but also actively prepare to comply with new regulations that could be imposed at any minute.
Future leaders in life sciences won’t simply endure these new regulations. Instead, they will build compliance directly into updated core workflows. Investments in technology that smooth out and speed up cumbersome compliance tasks will increase dramatically, and such unifying measures will benefit life sciences organizations as well as the regulators responsible for monitoring them.
4 Growth through partnerships
Success is not a one-person mission. Technology has always benefitted asset-based partnerships, but that won’t be enough in the future. Organizations and team members will continue to find new, unexpected ways to communicate and collaborate. Management will expand beyond siloed research, manufacturing, and sales teams to include members from academic, development, and data analysis teams.
Strong, cross-functional partnerships will help life sciences organizations grow without buckling under the weight of new regulation and fierce competition. Partners will assist with integrating technology into workflows, maintaining absolute compliance in the face of increased regulatory scrutiny, and forecasting responsible investments of time and resources. The most successful partnerships will not only improve the overall culture of an organization but also reduce operational and distribution costs.
5 Focus on patient trust in pharma
Relationships between pharmaceutical companies and patients remains the most important factor in building a successful future. Researchers, doctors, and caretakers must all pay careful attention to the emotional impact of technological advancement on participants in clinical trials as well as the eventual targeted patient population. Poor digital literacy and low levels of scientific experience can actually reduce quality of care, leading to unfortunate (and unnecessary) friction.
Organizations that create strong associations between technological innovation and stakeholder experience will be more successful than the previous myopic, tech-first strategy. Emerging blockchain-based technology and 3D printing in pharma are bellwethers of an age of dramatically increased trust, engagement, and service delivery.
6 Data integrity
Storing and sharing data on paper wastes massive amounts of time and money. Automated transactions and storage is a boon to efficiency, integrity, and availability. The risks, costs, and stagnation associated with physical, paper-based processes will become extinct as new technology continues to displace outdated workflows.
Successful life sciences organizations of tomorrow will demand access to real-world data in real time. They will understand that the construction of cross-functional relationships based on highly available, completely trustworthy data increases both knowledge and effectiveness.
7 Culture of ethics
Innovators must adapt to an age where real life is indistinguishable from screens, devices, and data. Ethics should permeate the development of medical devices and the operation of health systems from the outset. Mitigating cybersecurity risk and eliminating privacy leaks requires not only technological expertise, but a culture of responsibility and integrity.
The life sciences industry is riddled with changes. Innovation and technological advancements will not only continue, but accelerate over the coming months and years. By embracing new technologies, strategies, and mindsets, companies can thrive while providing critical improvements for humankind.