Life Sciences Innovations: Trends To Watch In 2018

Michelle Schooff

Healthcare providers, payers, and producers are urgently exploring ways to innovate, adapt, and collaborate across the digital health sciences network. Their goal is to reduce costs, improve patient safety and care quality, and gain market share. Which breakthrough technologies should your organization consider to achieve these goals?

In a recent Coffee Break with Game Changers radio show, we had the opportunity to hear from three life sciences industry leaders: Chris Whalley, industry compliance lead, Amazon Web Services Partner Network; Jack Schmidt, director, life science industry practice, Deloitte; and Rajagopalan (Raj) Subramanyam, senior director, life sciences, SAP.

Our panel of industry experts discussed how connected health, personalized medicine, health wearables, artificial intelligence, and machine learning can help life sciences businesses achieve a healthy prognosis.

Apple has been making some noteworthy moves in the healthcare industry,” Jack Schmidt noted. “Most recently, they’ve announced some new capabilities for their Apple watch around medical electronic health records (EHRs).  This is powerful information. If you can carry your medical information with you, it should improve the quality of care you receive. It should also improve the efficiency of the healthcare system. And most importantly, it can help keep patients healthy by using wellness apps.”

In a life sciences world where healthcare organizations are “digitizing humans,” companies are taking advantage of sequencing genomic information through DNA. Companies such as Ancestry.com are generating interest in ancestry to access genetic information through a simple, easy-to-use kit.

Schmidt added, “Most humans aren’t digitized today, but perhaps in a few years, every child born will be digitized the minute they enter the world and across their entire lifespan.”

Chris Whalley said, “A great deal of creativity and imagination is coming out of unexpected places in life sciences. When you’re applying old-world regulations and standards to new technologies and techniques, there is a lot of ingenuity and interpretation that needs to happen.”

As personalized medicine increasingly moves from the theoretical to the practical, life sciences companies are focusing on operationalizing the associated processes to manufacture, distribute, and administer treatments. The vein-to-vein nature of personalized medicine is forcing companies to reimagine business models to account for cold chain tracking, production variables, and capacity planning.

How can we make it easier for patients and healthcare providers to understand this complex landscape so that patients can benefit from information that changes every day?

Artificial intelligence (AI) in life sciences is impacting the way pharmaceuticals and medical devices are discovered, manufactured, distributed, and consumed, enabling greater personalization across the industry.

The power of AI lies in the mountains of data generated through R&D, which enables researchers and healthcare professionals to better understand biological information and develop more targeted therapies.  This, in turn, will enable a more targeted approach, increasing clinical success and mitigating risks.

Imagine you are diagnosed with a disease—how do you find a clinical trial?

According to Schmidt, “Using AI and machine learning (ML), patient data can be analyzed to detect factors that impact clinical trials; i.e., age, gender, co-morbidity traits, and tier treatments.  These factors narrow down the ability to participate in the clinical trial.  This can make it quicker and easier as a patient or a caregiver to access information that can make a difference.”

Today, patients must advocate for their own healthcare, as it is nearly impossible for healthcare providers to keep up with vast amounts of information on a patient-by-patient basis. That’s where these breakthrough technologies can make a difference.

“Technologies like telemedicine and mobile technology are absolutely changing how patients and clinical researchers interact and find each other,” Whalley noted. “Using more algorithms to do the matching instead of humans having to read thousands and thousands of pages will positively impact care.”

Rajagopalan (Raj) Subramanyam added, “There is a great deal of benefit all around—not only to the clinical trial patients, but also to life science companies—once products become mainstream. If you get a product to market faster, there could be at least one patient [who] needs that product to survive. And that’s the benefit that these companies bring.”

Life science companies embody a higher purpose when it comes to helping people recover from illness.

As for the future, Schmidt said, “Data is the new currency of life sciences innovation. From sequencing the genome, to precision in personalized medicine, to using technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to speed diagnostics…it’s truly revolutionary.”

Subramanyam expects to see changes in manufacturing, especially with automation and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. “With the proliferation of sensors, once instead of purchasing five sensors for $10, you can buy 300 sensors for a dollar and put those into machines. The components themselves will tell you when they need attention for a minimal investment.”

More life sciences companies are now exploring IoT to drive business value through product quality, operational efficiency, supply chain management and serialization regulatory requirements. What are you waiting for?

For more on emerging technology in the life sciences industry, see How To Drive Blockchain Technology Value In Life Sciences.


Michelle Schooff

About Michelle Schooff

Michelle Schooff is a global marketing director in the life sciences and wholesale distribution industries for SAP. She is responsible for the marketing strategy, messaging and positioning for SAP solutions in the global marketplace. With over 20 years experience in technology and marketing, Michelle builds strategic marketing plans that drive growth, innovation and revenue.