The life sciences and healthcare industries have been engaged in a digital transformation in recent years. But the change of recent times doesn’t mark the end of the story. So, how is 2018 looking to be shaping up? Here are five trend predictions for 2018 and beyond:
1. AI will continue to feature more heavily
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been making waves in numerous industries (most notably in telecoms, financial services and marketing), and it would appear that the life sciences industry is no exception. It’s now expanding from back end capability to a far more sophisticated role: it’s transforming patience diagnosis and making clinical trials cheaper and faster, and it has the potential to transform regulatory information and submissions management. 2018 won’t be the year we see AI taking responsibility for the end-to-end diagnosis-to-treatment cycles, but it’s certainly driving improved service offerings with every passing 12 months. Expect to see more practical examples of how AI can be used this year.
2. More investment in nuclear medicine and precision medicine
“While it is difficult to make sweeping generalisations, I anticipate continuing development in the nuclear medicine and precision medicine arena,” observed Rob Johnson of Alacrita Consulting. “With the launch of Netspot last year and Novartis buying AAA for nearly $4 billion, we can anticipate a continuing development in this space with protein receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) and the corresponding theranostics” he added.
Precision medicine, and biomarkers in particular, are currently seeing substantial growth. According to the BioTech Pharma Summit, the biomarkers market is projected to reach $53 billion by 2021 from $27 billion in 2016. This is the result of numerous factors, including increasing diagnostic applications of biomarkers, increasing number of CROs, the high prevalence of cancer, and new initiatives for biomarker research.
3. Biologic drugs will create new opportunities for patient care
Currently, 6 out of the 10 top medicines prescribed in UK hospitals are biological products used to treat a range of conditions, including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. But we’ll begin to see biosimilars and off-patent biological medicines being produced at significantly lower costs than their originator products, enabling the NHS to achieve savings of up to £300 million a year by 2021. Provided there is coordination between patients, prescribers, providers and commissioners, these new biologic drugs will create new opportunities for patient care, saving hundreds of millions of pounds while retaining access to critical medicines.
4. The ‘Big Four’ will continue to disrupt the industry
As DOTmed has noted, the presence of Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft in the healthcare industry is a trend to watch in 2018 and beyond. Not only are they collaborating via venture funding and research, but these giants seem to have their eye on one area in particular: data. Data storage (and imaging data in particular) is something to watch, with improvements offering the potential to allow images to be mined, and for subtle findings and nuances to be identified that are not always picked up by the human eye.
5. Consumers and patients will take more control over their health data
The General Data Protection Regulations (coming into effect on May 25th 2018) will see significant changes in the way the life sciences and healthcare industries control and process data. Genetic data and biometric data are expressly referenced as ‘sensitive personal data’, requiring life science and healthcare professionals to comply with stringent requirements placed upon them by the GDPR. As a result, significant changes regarding accountability, privacy, enhanced rights and consent are on the horizon, which could pose considerable challenges to the life sciences and healthcare industries. These challenges are not insurmountable, but there will be a change of process, as well as a major cultural shift too. Not only will the GDPR rules impact life science and health care entities based in the EU, but anyone who processes the data of EU citizens, meaning that the regulation will have widereaching impact on the industry as a whole.
Those are just a handful of predictions for the life sciences and healthcare industry in 2018 and beyond. Perhaps this year will mark the tipping point for an adoption of AI and other digital technology; but the use, control and processing of data will certainly undergo significant change in comparison to previous years.