The life science industry has had meaningful growth and change, especially over the past few years. What should you expect in 2022? What are the upcoming Life Sicences trends that will play significant roles in transforming the future of the industry? The pharmaceutical and med-tech industries have adapted and innovated and are expected to undergo a sea of change in the years to come.
What are the Life Sciences trends
1. Artificial intelligence (AI)
Applied artificial intelligence (AI) offers a myriad of opportunities that could shift the paradigms of the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Artificial intelligence uses learned machine intelligence to make predictions and execute learned actions. It is commonly used in many industries, including pharma, biotech, and healthcare. Pharmaceutical companies use AI technologies to streamline the drug discovery process, accelerate the research and development of drugs, create more affordable drugs and therapies, and, most remarkably, reduce costs. Additionally, AI can help pharmaceutical companies increase productivity, improve efficiency, and quickly produce life-saving drugs. Biotech companies have implemented AI technologies that have applications for the research and development of drugs and diagnostics, such as technologies that can identify biomarkers. Also, diagnostic devices use AI algorithms for image classification, which helps physicians diagnose diseases, such as cancer. Other applications of AI in biotech include phenotype screening and microbiome analysis.
Artificial intelligence in healthcare was valued at $10.4 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.4% from 2022 to 2030. A significant factor of the growth belongs to medical technologies, such as diagnostics and robotic-assisted surgery. Advanced computing and connectivity can be effectively integrated into healthcare and life science products so that those who are able to accomplish these tasks will have great opportunity.
If you implement or plan to implement AI technologies, consider the risks of cybersecurity for the medical device industry. You should make sure that you work with partners who understand and are proactively prepared for the cybersecurity requirements of today’s medical device industry.
2. Digitalization to catalyze change in health
People use health technologies in their comfort of home, which opens new doors for virtual healthcare. Virtual health devices can vary from basic wearable technologies to specialized health technologies that are CE certified.
Telemedicine and telehealth
The journey accelerated after the pandemic. Most people avoid seeing a physician if their illness is not urgent. This is especially true for the elderly and people with acute or chronic diseases; they need to see a physician more frequently. So, telemedicine allows us to be consulted by physicians without taking contamination risks. The physician can use sensors to track vital signs, health records, and other personal information and diagnose their patients through remote patient monitoring (RPM). A connected or manual device allows patients to track vitals online from home, and the data is added to a central database (ie, the EMR).
Hybrid models offer more consumer-facing solutions, including face-to-face medicine and telemedicine. Finding the best way to use telemedicine presents challenges, but more virtual options are likely to appear. As telemedicine, virtual healthcare, and devices can store personal health data, keep in mind the risks and requirements of cybersecurity when producing and marketing such tools. Furthermore, this data is sensitive, so it can only be read by specialized, educated people.
Wearable technology devices are marketed to and used by physicians to monitor patient health and track changes, such as fluctuations in blood pressure, heart rate, etc. Furthermore, these devices have special features, such as oxygen sensors, or detect diseases, such as coronavirus, a day before symptoms appear. You may have heard of the term "Internet of Things (IoT)," which has been increasingly used in recent years. Correlatively, "Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)" has been increasing used in the healthcare industry. IoMT allows us to monitor and track health remotely. As these devices are used for medical purposes, manufacturers should consider the use of software as a medical device (SaMD) and the feasibility and security of having IoMT. The FDA's and EU MDR’s recognition of these devices and technologies as "medical" demonstrates the upward trend for the industry.
Interest in “beyond-the-pill” treatment approaches
There is increasing interest in wearable technologies, digital pills, and even gamification for disease prevention and treatment. For instance, VR is a promising tool for distracting a person facing chronic pain. Meanwhile, personalized treatments will be increasingly preferred, and companies will receive greater momentum for developing digitally driven treatment solutions.
The healthcare industry had to find a solution for making their products available to patients. Pharmacies have evolved through pandemics, owing to many reasons. E-pharmacies are vital for patients who continuously need life-saving drugs. Tech-driven pharmacy delivery is making e-pharmacies advocates for chronic disease management. They can work nonstop to provide every kind of medicine and healthcare at any time. For those reasons, there will be an upward trend in the number of e-pharmacies around the world.
Sometimes, you don't even notice that you are using cloud technology. It is used in many industries and provides a protected and cost-efficient environment for leveraging analytics. Life science companies rely on the security and centralized accessibility of the cloud. The cloud maintains thousands of records, and companies can access them from anywhere at any time. In the life sciences, physicians can use it to collect sensitive big data from hospitals or clinical trials and evaluate analytics.
Cloud-based management systems
Digital processes have been used for a long time, and their use will increase in 2022. Paper-based processes are transformed to digital processes to increase operational efficiency. Digital processes are especially useful for driving regulatory compliance, as they allow pharmaceutical companies to accurately monitor and maintain data. Life science companies value this transformation to digital, as it provides cross-departmental data transparency.
Life science industries, such as pharma, medical device, and biotech, improve their processes to increase productivity, increase efficiency, and comply with regulations and requirements. Industries with fast-changing environments need to digitalize their operations. Digital training is a simple-but-crucial step.
Digital management tasks, such as online training, documentation, and e-signatures, make operations faster, trackable, foolproof, and secure. Digital management systems, especially online training modules, are cost efficient. They can be accessed from anywhere at any time and be personalized to each user. Digital management technologies will continue to grow in 2022.
3. Research and development
Data science in drug discovery and development
In 2021, data science became a major tool for drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry. Data scientists need tools that can quickly and easily plug into existing workflows without having to implement enterprise solutions. That way, companies won't miss opportunities while waiting for the development of enterprise solutions.
Increased focus on research and development
To fulfill the needs of patients, life science companies are reevaluating their approach to research and development. Pharmaceutical companies use innovative technologies, such as machine learning and open-source software, and crowdsourcing, innovation centers, and public-private partnerships to reduce the massive cost of research and development.
Smart technology has advanced drug development and research. Traditionally, drug development and research fronted challenges by obtaining enough participants for clinical trials, which can take years to do so. Technology has given drug manufacturers more control over clinical trials. Now, they can lower costs by recruiting fewer in-person participants. Digitalization of clinical trials allows biotech companies to integrate genetics with biometrics to determine underlying causes of conditions. Machine learning offers tremendous possibilities for drug research and diagnosing and treating patients.
4. Personalized medicine
Historically, drugs and medicine have been developed and marketed on a “one-size-fits-all” logic, and clinical trials were used to establish the most beneficial formulation for the largest community. Currently, modern genomics allows us to tailor formulation to an individual based on their DNA. By knowing the role that DNA plays in our health and body's ability to fight disease, we can predict where illness will occur, accurately diagnose diseases, and develop customized treatments. Personalized medicine reduces time and costs by identifying medical issues at their source: the patient's molecular and genetic profile. By analyzing a patient's genetics, medical professionals can identify risks. Also, personalized medicine uses data collected from clinical trials, which enables physicians to create custom therapies and treatment regimens for each patient.
Precision medicine has the potential to solve issues by using patient information to refine drug development. For example, biomarkers are used to identify tumors and develop tumor-specific drugs. This precision medicine aims to solve the issue with the highest level of effectiveness and positive outcome for the patient. The manufacturing of precision medicine has challenges that require smaller, more specialized facilities. Despite these challenges, precision medicine has an upward trend in the pharmaceutical industry.
5. Supply chain strategy
Contract manufacturers experienced hardships during the pandemic, such as travel restrictions, transport delays, decreased production, and transport capacity limitations. Because of these hardships, freight prices are drastically increased. To absorb these setbacks, manufacturers need to develop stronger and more resilient supply chain strategies. Supply chain resilience has become one of the top selection criteria for original equipment manufacturers. A resilient supply chain and contract manufacturer can confidently handle changing demands.
The bottom line
As the digital industry evolves and leads the way in innovation, the life science industry continues to provide new opportunities. Innovations made today will have a major effect on the medicine of the future. The pandemic accelerated rapid change in innovation in the life science industry, and that velocity will likely be maintained in 2022. Companies who adopt innovation and switch to digital for their products and operations (from discovery to clinical trials to treatment approaches) will survive in such a competitive market.