Technology in health and life sciences has long been an influential factor in the efficacies of treatment and research. For example, recent years have seen the adoption of gene editing technologies and the clinical testing of stem cell transplants in an attempt to cure HIV in certain patients. We owe these exciting breakthroughs to collaborations between health professionals and the tech sector. But there are perhaps even more important and wide-reaching technological possibilities for the healthcare sector— focussing not only on research, but on access.
In 2019, Babylon by TELUS Health launched in Canada with an offer consumers couldn’t refuse: free appointments with a doctor, on your phone. For many common afflictions which require a doctor’s visit, your on-screen General Practitioner could prescribe and ship medications directly to your home. All of this was free of charge under Canada’s publicly funded health care system.1
Babylon and its competitors, such as Maple, and their psychologically-focussed companions such as BetterHelp, are demonstrating the future of medicine in real time. The invention of these applications, and their governmental endorsements, mean people who did not have access to a doctor before can seek treatment.
It’s for these promising and meaningful possibilities that companies should be orienting their strategic recruitment to facilitate further collaboration between the biotech and life sciences sector with consumer technology. The internet and various apps have made it possible to deliver health-related products to market with low-overhead, high volume, high quality and high revenue results. Zeroing in on the changing tides in treatment delivery could be an exceptionally wise investment. Biotech companies should emphasize employee skills in three key areas to maximize return in this new era of medicine.
Create New Value in Biotech and Life Sciences
With biotech’s growing ability to meet consumers and patients in the comfort of their own homes, a new treasure trove of value is created: high quality, up-to-date data. Biotech and life sciences have never had access to more specific, real time data than they do today and companies in the sector should be focussing on how to harness this information to create meaningful, effective work. But without the right people, data means very little: “Cultivating human strengths—for probing data, curating information, and asking the right questions— can help humans work with technology to think exponentially,” notes Deloitte in their 2020 Global life sciences outlook.2
Forge New Partnerships
R&D funds should not be restricted to biotech—they should also be allocated to investigate new delivery methods and possible AI applications to create new value and better grow a company’s reach and efficiency in manipulating data. By dedicating labour to investigate technologies which already exist but that may have different applications, companies can save time and money. Forging partnerships outside of the biotech industry, looking instead to big data management firms or companies that excel in user experience or the integration of artificial intelligence into human-machine learning, could yield dramatic results.
“With the right protections in place for intellectual property, medtech companies should be open to explore possible collaborations with technology companies, in turn developing more consumer-friendly devices,” shares Deloitte.2
This was the case for Arkopharma, who collaborated with Genpact to increase its sales, increase customer satisfaction through greater efficiencies during communicative stages, and keep overhead down. The central aspects of Genpact’s intervention concerned the digitization of business processes and the centralization of customer data, ensuring easy access for customer service reps to best manage product delivery.3
“Competition for AI talent will likely be fierce, and biopharma companies should not let traditional thinking and legacy cultures put them at a disadvantage,” writes Deloitte. “Emerging technologies could also positively drive change throughout each stage of the supply chain—leading to enhanced value to patients.”2
Focus on Customizable Products
With the influx of data made available by new delivery technologies, the next step is devoting labour and machine power to creating customizable products and personalized delivery. Prototyping these products within the commercial market could allow smaller producers to take portions of the market share from big pharma.2 This is because big pharma remains unwieldy and bloated as an industry; top-heavy companies are less able to quickly pivot to provide specifically tailored care to patients. Smaller companies are more agile; they can focus on delivering precisely what a patient needs and, due to lower overhead, often for a lower price.
This pivot is simple, with the right leadership: patient data is more accessible than ever.
“In a future with interoperable and real-time data, the greatest returns will likely accrue to organizations that successfully mine data to deliver personalized solutions and meet consumer demands,” predicts Deloitte.2
For all of these reasons, forging new relationships to create innovative products and product delivery protocols, along with expertise on data management and intellectual property protection should be key concerns in new hires at the executive level in biotech and life sciences.