COVID-19 continues to be a double-edged sword for Life Sciences companies, highlighting areas of improvement to maintain business agility, while showcasing the surprising speed with which organizations can move. Last year’s trends on the cusp of widespread adoption have been pushed to the forefront for 2021, aimed at building resiliency and driving continuous change and innovation.
A theme woven throughout this year’s predictions is the ongoing quest for data and platform interoperability and patient centricity—both of which are accelerated priorities. Organizations need to be able to take data from any source and deploy it effectively within operations, improving the robustness of data insights. By leveraging data platform interoperability, and gathering information from people, systems and devices, organizations gain a complete view and understanding of patients, shared securely within the Life Sciences ecosystem.
This year we’ve seen first-hand the speed and innovation that interoperable platforms, data insight and collaboration can deliver. For example, the FDA made it possible for organizations to share peer-reviewed papers and publications within a single repository. Even more remarkable, within six weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak, the genotype was isolated and clinical trials for vaccines began, demonstrating the power of cross-industry collaboration.
In 2021, organizations are focused on how to better collect, synthesize, analyze, and use information to improve supply chain visibility, accelerate virtual clinical trials and leverage AI and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), with cloud acting as the enabler. Here are three pressing priorities for the year ahead:
Countering historic supply chain disruptions
Life Sciences is no stranger to challenges with forecasting and manufacturing supply, plagued throughout 2020 with ongoing drug shortages (more than 115 reported as of December 14, 2020). Now the industry is faced with billions of vaccines to be distributed globally—never before attempted at this speed or scale.
This requires real-time visibility to effectively trace and track worldwide distribution, particularly within developing markets. Interoperable data platforms will play a key role in capturing the data needed to create a connected supply chain, combined with an increased reliance on AI and IoT (Internet of Things) to deliver a critical chain of custody with insight into the condition of drugs in transit.
Companies will increase the resolution of data collected using IoT and analytics and adopt interoperable data platforms across production and supply chain processes to enable new levels of trust and cooperation along the Life Sciences value chain.
Reimagining clinical trials
COVID-19 disrupted nearly every aspect of the clinical trial ecosystem, with 67% of healthcare experts planning to use decentralized clinical trials in the near future as a result. This shift is critical as there remain significant unmet market needs—for example, of an estimated 7,000 diseases, only five percent have U.S. FDA-approved treatments.
Regardless of where and how clinical trials are conducted, obtaining real-world evidence and data remains the holy grail. To continue to drive pipeline and R&D, organizations need data platforms that integrate internally and externally to provide a 360-view of the patient, data and evidence, and support collaboration among trial stakeholders. An example of platform and data interoperability in action is FDA MyStudies, an open source, digital platform to gather real-world data for research.
The move towards patient-centric clinical trials will accelerate as companies deploy digital technologies—especially AI and analytics—to improve the recruitment and operation of clinical trials and enable patients to securely take part remotely.
Increased reliance on AI and IoMT
With the accelerated move to telehealth and remote monitoring as a result of the pandemic, applying advanced analytics to the data generated from connected medical devices provides critical insights and empowers better decision-making—a key part of deriving value from the IoMT.
The global AI in the healthcare market grew from $4.9 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $45.2 billion by 2026, driven in large part by the need to expedite COVID-19 vaccine and drug development. To reap the benefits of AI, organizations must treat data as a business asset, requiring an interoperable data platform to make sense of vast amounts of data from diverse sources and turn it into actionable insight.
AI technology allied to IoT platforms will play a key role in improving clinical trials, honing patient recruitment by crawling patient records to identify the most suitable candidates. These technologies will help boost patient retention with individual-level targeted insights, enabling physicians to better monitor and enforce recommended treatment protocols.
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