Five Life Sciences trends in 2018

And why you’ll need EIM

It’s that time again when we all take to our crystal ball to predict what’s going to happen in the year ahead. I’m going to cheat a little by covering not what might happen, but what’s already happening that will have even greater impact in 2018. So, this blog looks at five 5 major Life Sciences trends that are going to seriously affect how you manage the data and information within your organization.

The Life Sciences sector has, in the past, been accused of being slow to change. It’s my opinion that this is no longer a viable option for most Life Sciences companies. Demand is growing while profits are dropping. There is a need for faster and more cost-effective innovation. Then there’s the threat from Big Tech just around the corner. In fact, Accenture’s 2017 survey found that almost three quarters of Life Sciences executives think their company is about to enter digital industries that have yet to be defined. That’s reflected in my five trends.

Where to start? In the first part of this year, I plan to cover a couple of the new EU regulations that will impact the Life Sciences industry over the next 12 months, so let’s start there.

The explosion of EU regulations

When analysts describe legislation as ‘a complex change program – a paradigm shift even – after which nothing will look quite the same’, you know something big is coming. But, that’s what EY said about the EU Medical Device Regulation.

If that was the only EU legislation Life Sciences companies had to address, it would be challenging enough. The EU thought you’d like a bit more to deal with over the next 12 to 24 months. So, you also have the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in May 2018. Then there’s the Clinical Trial Regulation, the Falsified Medicines Directive and the implementation of ISO IDMP standards – all before 2021.

These aren’t small regulatory amendments but sweeping changes that could fundamental change how companies do business – and will certainly mean everyone has to look at how they manage and process information.

A greater focus on ‘Digital Health’

Forbes has suggested using something like the – now defunct – Google Glasses to record information during a consultation rather than the doctor writing it down manually. While one of the more ‘interesting’ ideas for an application of Digital Health, there’s little doubt that it will increase in importance rapidly during 2018.

Even the FDA is making Digital Health a focus in the 21st Century Cures Act. With the widespread adoption of wearables and literally thousands of healthcare apps available, it’s clear that people are happy to adopt Digital Health. Life Sciences companies need to work out how they can make the best use of the vast amounts of data that is being created.

Pharmerging: the case for business agility

Pharmerging nations – developing countries where the use of drugs is growing rapidly – is an area of focus for new business development. With growth in the US, Europe and Japan pretty near flat, pharmerging nations are forecasted to grow by almost 13%. Fortune has suggested pharmerging markets will account for nearly 50% of absolute growth in drug spending in 2018.

While the growth potential is there, pharmerging markets also suffer from more non-brand products, lower prices and less profitability. Life Sciences companies will need to look at innovative ways – such as partnerships and supply chain efficiencies – to allow them to fully and cost-effectively exploit market opportunities.

Clinical IntelligencePartnerships: collaborate to innovate

To thrive in an increasingly competitive market, Life Sciences companies are working together to share skills and expertise to reduce development times and costs of new product and service innovations.

For example, the relationship between pharma sponsors and contract research organizations (CROs) is becoming increasingly strategic.

The success of the relationship is built on information sharing, collaboration and transparency. To achieve this, Life Sciences companies are integrating their core business functionalities with third parties and their technology platforms. An IMS Health study found that 90% of life sciences executives believe adopting a platform-based business model is critical to the success of their business.

Mergers continue apace

Although the value of Life Science M&A deals fell in the third quarter of 2017, the amount of deals remains high. This is likely to continue as companies address regulatory and economic pressures through the efficiencies, economies of scale and strategic alignment offered by mergers and acquisitions.

Some areas of Life Sciences are seeing growth in M&A activity such as Healthcare where US hospital and health system providers are consolidating to focus on target markets. Key is the ability to quickly integrate systems and processes to realize the full value for the M&A investment.

Why you’re going to need EIM

Taking the EU regulation alone, the bulk of the new legislation surrounds how companies manage and process information. There has never been a greater need for full, centralized control of all the data and content within your organization. Over the next 12 to 24 months, if you haven’t implemented a technical infrastructure capable of very advanced enterprise information management, it is extremely difficult to see how you can operate effectively.

EIM platforms have evolved to address the key pain points that all enterprises are facing when developing their information management strategies. Even if you think that your current information management arrangements are good, you need to reassess to ensure you have an EIM platform that delivers:

  • Central management and control of all data and content within the organization
  • The ability to handle and exploit structured and unstructured data wherever it resides
  • Seamless access to structured and unstructured data to enable effective digital business processes and workflows
  • An omnichannel experience for both customers, partners and employees
  • Closer, more effective relationships with customers, suppliers and other trading partners
  • Enhanced data security and data sovereignty for all corporate data.
  • Consistent and continuous compliance with global regulations, industry standards and customer mandates

Just as Life Sciences executives are beginning to recognize the full extent of the digital nature of their business so the trends I’ve highlighted demonstrate the need to take a new approach to information management.

So, I’m going to finish my blog with one prediction: 2018 will be the year that the EIM platform takes center stage in Life Sciences.

Jaleel Shujath

Jaleel is an Industry Strategist in Life Sciences for OpenText, based near Washington DC.

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