Many businesses were affected by the unexpected epidemic, although some top experts showed a substantial impact of COVID-19 in the life sciences sector. The life sciences are undergoing unheard-of changes due to the explosion in digital solutions, modifications to pharmaceutical processes, and rapid innovation. According to Mahmood, these pandemic-driven changes sparked seven positive developments in the life sciences that would influence the pharmaceutical business, medical technology providers, healthcare systems, and the healthcare industry:
- Creating alliances.
- Quickening the digitizing process.
- Cutting the time for vaccine development.
- Increasing the utilization of actual data.
- Securing data when scaling cloud platforms.
- Enhancing the supply chain
- Paying attention to health equity
The life sciences sector has faced an once-in-a-lifetime challenge in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has shattered digital boundaries, expedited medication research, and altered the medical technology and pharmaceutical industries irrevocably, according to Sadiqa Mahmood, general manager and senior vice president of life sciences business at Health Catalyst.
Seven Life Sciences Trends Influenced by Pandemics
Mahmood claims that the unexpected pandemic has tremendously influenced all aspects of the healthcare business, particularly in the life sciences sector, due to the need to produce and disseminate a COVID-19 vaccine quickly.
Mahmood offers seven broad life sciences themes that the coronavirus pandemic sparked, notwithstanding the vaccine’s critical role in the COVID-19 epidemic’s recovery:
Instead of the standard 10-year procedure, traditional life science industry rivals (such as Pfizer, Sanofi, Janssen, etc.), who typically keep knowledge from one another, collaborated to develop, test, and distribute a vaccine in less than a year. These pharmaceutical firms were crucial in the development of life-saving drugs as well as in the manufacture of ventilators and other medical devices.
Mahmood claims that pharmaceutical firms are testing their pre-pandemic procedures, looking for chances to improve efficiency, and developing creative collaborations due to successful partnerships.
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Quickening the digitization
The pharmaceutical and medical technology companies had to change their conventional in-person, onsite clinical trial method to a remote, decentralized one due to COVID-19, which hastened the digital revolution of those businesses.
Regulators, physicians, and patients were also compelled to use remote monitoring technologies, such as telemedicine, wearables, sensors, and computerized clinical outcome evaluations due to the pandemic’s increased digitalization. Due to the pandemic’s restrictions on in-person encounters, physicians could increase patient engagement and gather more healthcare data by utilizing these monitoring tools.
Cutting the time it takes to develop vaccines
The pandemic sped up the process of developing, reviewing, and releasing drugs and vaccines to the market. Rapid scientific guidance, faster market authorizations, and the compassionate use of certain medications are just a few of the expedited measures for emergency usage that regulatory agencies like the European Medicines Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have implemented.
Mahmood believes that adopting digital technology (Trend #2) along with the success of the COVID-19 vaccine will most likely lead regulatory agencies to adopt these quicker processes for approving future vaccines and medications rather than going back to the more time-consuming pre-pandemic drug approval procedures.
Increasing Real-World Data Use
Mahmood continues by stating that the pandemic increased the use of real-world data (RWD) gathered outside clinical studies. Pharmaceutical and medical technology businesses used real-world data to guide medication development and usage due to increased access to RWD. The life sciences sector was obliged to destroy data silos, mine RWD produced from dispersed resources, and eventually promote interoperability among many data sources by the pandemic-driven need to access and exchange data. For research on uncommon diseases, the additional real-world data has been of enormous use when patient numbers are small.
Scaling Cloud Platforms and Data Security
The subsequent trend—rapidly developing secure cloud platforms to connect cloud ecosystems worldwide—was sparked by the rise in data exchange through interoperability. For instance, businesses that depended on cloud platforms with simple data sharing features expanded the scope of their cloud solutions to support cloud computing from more data sources. Mahmood asserts that enterprises that had previously avoided extending their cloud platforms were now forced to join to access the crucial data required comprehending and surviving the epidemic.
But as more systems use rapidly expanded cloud platforms to share RWD, the possibility of data breaches has increased, particularly for systems that have bypassed appropriate security controls to reduce delays during the quick process. Organizations should ensure they are adhering to best practices, such as encryption and limiting access points and always looking for ways to safeguard their data, to reduce the chance of a data breach or theft.
Streamlining Supply Chain Operations
Early in the pandemic, a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical equipment (such as ventilators) highlighted how dependent the healthcare industry is on international trade and production. Organizations brought production back home to the United States and discovered innovative methods to think outside the box to reduce these foreign dependencies. For instance, producers in the United States had to figure out how to store vaccinations that needed particular conditions and delivery methods.
Due to the epidemic, supply chain operations increasingly embrace technology, data, and innovation. For instance, decision-makers now track real-time PPE and vaccination distribution inventory using data and automated technologies. Providers can match projected demand, spot supply constraints, and discover backup sources to deal with shortages thanks to innovative, better systems.
Considering health equity
Organizations have intensified efforts to recruit patients for clinical trials and provide patient care that is equitable in terms of race and gender. The development of medications, vaccines, medical equipment, and other products by the life sciences sector is made possible using data that reflects various racial and ethnic groups more appropriately.
COVID-19 Activates Seven Trends in the Life Sciences toward a Digital Future
The life sciences sector saw a short-term transition due to the pandemic, but Mahmood predicts that the sector will see accelerated digital development in the long run. The seven data-driven life sciences trends will continue to push pharmaceutical, medical technology and other businesses on a patient-first, data-centric path.
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