Ten Trends Affecting Pharma, Medtech, Robotics, Medical Devices

Digital business is blurring the boundaries between a traditional “Life Sciences” (e.g., pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device), a traditional “healthcare” (e.g., payer, provider), and a “consumer” company (e.g., retailer, wellness). Here, we highlight industry trends on these intersections that bring opportunity, as well as challenges when creating and launching technology solutions.

Trend #1:
Life Sciences’ Growth Trajectory Before Pandemic

The global Life Sciences industry has grown faster than ever in the past decade, even before the pandemic. This has only accelerated since 2020 with a record $70B of private and public capital invested in Life Sciences-related companies in North America. That’s a 93 percent increase over a record year in 2018 with $36B invested. Biopharma and medtech organizations are looking for new ways to create value and tap into today’s wealth of data.

Trend #2:
Accelerate Digital Business

According to the 2019 Gartner CIO Survey, 30 percent of top-performing organizations list digital as a priority, yet only 18 percent of Life Sciences CIOs say it’s theirs. While Life Sciences are behind other industries in the evolution of digital business models and channels, they are looking to pick up the pace, particularly post-pandemic.

In addition to market competition and the blurring of lines among industry segments, Life Sciences companies are formulating their responses to four pressures:

  • How to use analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) to uncover insights that support the development of new treatments and services
  • Engaging consumers who are holding more power as Life Sciences segments reach out directly
  • Seismic mergers impacting the healthcare landscape
  • The looming presence of digital giants like Amazon, Google, and Apple to disrupt healthcare

Consumerism and personalization drive deeper change within Life Sciences and beyond payer/providers/systems into sub-sectors like pharma and medtech. Consider these two quotes that illustrate this trend.

“By combining devices, drugs, and technology, we can deliver solutions that adapt to each person’s unique needs in managing their diabetes while also providing compelling advancements for both physicians and payers.”

“As a disruptor, Life Sciences organizations drive technology innovations into healthcare, as well as being impacted by them. Some now charge premium prices for innovative products that cure disease, extend life, improve quality of life, or fundamentally change the way doctors treat illness.”

The pace of Innovation is causing CIOs to take more risks and invest in emerging technologies. Investors expect a level of risk to Innovation, which drives the discovery and development of new products and complementary services.

Data-driven technologies create volumes of value-laden information, automation is taking the burden out of mundane tasks, and the evolution of work in Life Sciences is engaging employees in new ways. Biopharma and medtech companies are looking at how they can find more meaningful insights that could improve healthcare in new or novels ways while creating greater value.

Supporting customer-centric engagement and creating more personalized products and service offerings is a significant focus. In the pharmaceutical industry, companies want to “go beyond the pill” and have greater importance in patients’ health and wellbeing. This means companies are looking to understand engagement points throughout and even before treatments. As the industry becomes more focused on patient outcomes and experiences, there will be new opportunities to drive value throughout the product lifecycle, including physician engagement, R&D, and regulatory functions.

For medical device manufacturers, personalization is also a priority. Physicians are using surgical tools and training aids that are customized for patient use cases. Health monitoring and in-home diagnostic equipment, for example, feature more connected services, education, and dashboards meant to improve the individual experience.

A pre-pandemic survey of medtech executives highlighted the importance of digital health solutions, which averaged 10 percent of revenue, and was expected to increase to 50 percent by 2023. Many of these growth opportunities will be new areas within the patient journey, as well as newer areas like connected or integrated devices and disease prevention.

Medtech companies are focusing on increased efficiencies achieved through solutions like intelligent automation, machine learning, additive manufacturing, and augmented reality. While a new crop of AI startups are redefining how new drugs are being developed, medical device companies are expanding device connectivity that holds promise for value-based services.

Trend #8
Robotics Field Exploding

Since 2015, robotics technology has experienced significant advances, leading to double-digit growth in surgical robotics as an example. By 2025, the number of global MIRS procedures will more than double to 2 million, while the market is predicted to grow from $5.5B to over $24B

The pandemic is also causing a surge in robotics use within hospitals as medical services were restricted. Robots, like virtual care, offered an efficient, cost-effective method to provide safe and socially distanced preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative care. 

The increased demand for “smart” medical devices and related technologies also increases cybersecurity risks. The European Union has prepared by creating the Cybersecurity Act, requiring manufacturers to set IT security measures for medical devices and protect against unauthorized access. The FDA holds manufacturers primarily responsible for managing cybersecurity risk in their products. The data security and privacy imperative are increasing as more patients have greater choice and demand more connectivity.

Trend #10:
Addressing Increasing Supply Chain Challenges

The pandemic revealed many supply chain challenges for Life Sciences. But, even before COVID-19, global supply chains had become strained with changes to trade agreements, changes in manufacturing plant locations, and other geopolitical forces. Today, Life Sciences organizations are forging mutual partnerships between device manufacturers and part manufacturers to bring greater flexibility and control oversupply. 

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