Guest Column | November 13, 2017

An Industry On The Brink Of Radical Reinvention

By Brags Srinivasan Managing Director of Technology, Accenture Life Sciences

An Industry On The Brink Of Radical Reinvention

2017 has been an exciting time for the life sciences industry -- today’s increasingly tech-savvy world means that digital health capabilities are becoming a regular component of everyday life. Patients and consumers are embracing increasingly active roles in the management of their health and wellness, and companies are taking giant steps to tap into tech-enabled personal empowerment. It’s clear that the industry we know today will be radically different in years to come.

Accenture’s 2017 Technology Vision for Life Sciences examines how major technology trends are shaping the industry and provides recommendations for life sciences companies on how best to take advantage. Across the five trends we uncovered, the unifying theme was how technology is empowering patients and consumers, while driving business results:

  • AI is the new UI – AI (artificial intelligence) promises to empower individuals and improve customer interactions, but life sciences companies must push their capabilities and applications further.
  • Ecosystem Power Plays - The life sciences industry is aligning on standards that support platform-based ecosystems, accelerating innovation and the shift to value-based models.
  • Workforce Marketplace - New flexible workforce solutions, including on-demand labor platforms, will be key to unlocking innovation and organizational changes.
  • Design for Humans - Life sciences companies must bring patients into the heart of design and delivery to achieve business and health outcomes.
  • The Uncharted - Life sciences companies and regulators will need to collaborate more closely to ensure new innovations are not held back by a lagging regulatory environment.

Artificial intelligence at our fingertips

Products and solutions are becoming more relevant, sophisticated, and powerful than ever before. A key example is AI, which is playing an increasingly prominent role in the healthcare and life sciences industries, expanding from a backend capability to a frontend asset and making patient and consumer interactions simpler and smarter. In fact, 74 percent of the life sciences executives we surveyed for this research expect AI to transform the industry.

AI holds the potential to reinvent and enable individual empowerment and improve health. Already, diagnostic capabilities underpinned by this technology are advancing rapidly. In R&D, AI could help to increase the efficacy of clinical trials and patient recruitment. While we’ve yet to reach the point where AI can take responsibility for the full diagnosis-to-treatment cycle, life sciences companies and regulators are looking to collaborate more closely to open the door to new innovations that are often held back in today’s regulatory environment.

Embracing the ecosystem

By allowing for greater collaboration and co-creation among industry players, platform-based business models will significantly accelerate the development and delivery of new, innovative products and solutions. These ecosystems are evolving in three primary ways:

  • Organizations working together and drawing on shared data sources to drive innovation.
  • Patient services platforms enabling companies to shift from volume- to value-based business models.
  • Companies integrating internet of Things into platforms, removing human error and enabling better overall patient outcomes and care.

With the emergence of intelligent platforms and integrated services, companies can unlock much-needed organizational changes that will allow them to thrive in an evolving digital environment.

Technology for the people, by the people

Although technology offers limitless opportunities for innovation, it is critical that healthcare and life sciences leaders maintain a human-centric approach. In today’s digital economy, this is a business imperative. If companies want to generate returns that go beyond the bottom-line, they must design technology solutions that put patients and consumers firmly in control of their own health. At the same time, industry leaders must take care to protect the privacy of consumer and patient data.

While patient-centricity is not a new concept, it’s gaining importance. Our research shows that 78 percent of executives agree that creating technology capabilities that align to human behaviour will be a competitive differentiator. A similar number, 73 percent, believe that achieving a true customer focus will allow them to transition from providers to partners.

At the core of each of our five trends is the changing relationship between people and technology. By taking advantage of these trends, companies will not only generate better outcomes for patients and their business, they will help to create a more human world.