NTT DATA Business Solutions
Frans Nieuweboer | October 27, 2021

What’s Next? – Trends and Innovations in the Life Sciences Industry

Hand using tablet in life sciences lab

(3 min read)

New innovations, increased access to data and changing global trends are transforming the life sciences industry. This transformation has been propelled further by the COVID-19 pandemic, which demanded accelerated research practices, unlikely collaborations and the development of new platforms and technologies. Increasing digitisation and access to industry 4.0 technologies are reshaping the way we work in general, whether it be smart factories, improved means of treatment delivery or updated record keeping systems. Customised treatments and precision medicines are becoming a priority, marking a shift away from ‘blockbuster’ drugs.

To stay at the forefront of the industry, life sciences companies need to actively anticipate these new challenges, possibilities and approaches.

Key Trends and Innovations

Increasing regulations and security needs: As the life sciences landscape changes, so do the rules governing international trade and practice. For example, with focus shifting towards more patient-specific treatments, companies will need to develop new systems to ensure data protection, anonymity and patient access to information. Likewise, technological advancements have enabled increased data collection and made medical devices more prevalent; this opens up greater opportunity for hacking and cyber threats, requiring diligence when it comes to cyber security. Greater demand for security also creates pressure for greater transparency in all practices – from business to clinical operations. In turn, systems of record have growing importance and ePedigree/serialization requirements are becoming more detailed and specific.

Reconsidering the pharmaceutical pipeline: In an increasingly complex marketplace, the development of new ‘blockbuster drugs’ is growing more costly and time consuming. Facing issues like the patent cliff – when revenues drop off suddenly because drugs come out of patent – and the rise of generics and other low-cost rivals, companies are reconsidering developmental practices. Many major pharma companies are more motivated to buy-in on new formulations to reduce potential risk, while others are establishing highly specialised in-house units to focus on specific areas. Some are turning to merger and acquisition as a strategy, and others are paring down their business model to focus on research and patent management.

New approaches to solution development: The Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised the importance of exploring new approaches to solution development, as the mRNA-based vaccines would not have been possible without employing new technologies and manufacturing models. This also represents a general trend toward more precision and personalized medicines, which has impacted existing business models. Companies are turning to new options, such as ‘cure as service’ and drug and device partnerships for targeted treatments. It’s likely there will be increased collaboration between different companies and industry sectors to bring together specialised knowledge and expertise.

Interconnectivity and data-driven decision making: As life sciences companies incorporate more digital technologies, devices and smart factories, the resulting interconnectivity they create across tools and sites around the world enable them to collect and analyse vast quantities of data. This holistic overview – from real-time production insights to individual patient data from paired devices – will have a greater impact on future decision making, allowing companies to understand supply chain performance, support new approaches to drug development, identify market segments and implement regulatory infrastructures. In short, big data and analysis will continue to drive actionable insights and allow companies to work more effectively.

What This Means in Practice

Broadening scopes: Many companies will likely expand their business model to cover more of the total care landscape. This could mean pairing drugs and devices for more holistic treatments, developing technologies to enable more individualised and targeted treatments or acquiring new capabilities to meet changing market needs. There will be a shift away from old practices and business models and towards new partnerships and collaborations.

New approaches to research and innovation: As innovation is driven forward by the growing complexity of diseases themselves, it’s becoming clear that specialised groups and engineers are better positioned to make important breakthroughs and drive value than corporations. Larger life sciences companies may choose to either innovate or manufacture, instead of trying to do both. Furthermore, production and distribution of new breakthrough treatments may be done best through non-traditional alliances with multiple partners in different individual markets, rather than centralised manufacturing.

Embracing digitisation and industry 4.0: Digitisation and industry 4.0 technologies have transformed manufacturing and business practices across industries. Although it may be a challenging cultural shift, it is important that life sciences companies embrace these changes to remain as effective as possible in an increasingly complex landscape. The ability to gather, analyse, share and leverage big data will have a major impact on everything from predictive quality management to systems of record.

It’s clear that the life sciences industry is facing an ongoing transformation that will continue to influence how companies operate and make decisions for years to come.

Whitepaper - 5 Trends in the Life Sciences Industry

To learn more about trends and strategies for the future, download our detailed white paper ‘5 Trends in the Life Sciences Industry’ or visit our our Life Sciences Industry website.

Whitepaper: 5 Trends in the Life Sciences Industry

More about Life Sciences