The first half of 2020 surely wasn’t the easiest one for the whole spectrum of Healthcare and Life Science industries. They faced numerous challenges caused by the outbreak of Covid-19. MedTech companies experienced a great disproportion in the demand for supplies that required a fast scaling up of the manufacturing of important medical products (such as ventilators and PPE) on one hand, and a decreased production of the ones related to elective procedures on the other. Research and drug development businesses encountered the high expectations for the development of new drugs and vaccines to treat the virus while reducing lab capacity, implementing remote work policies and pausing site clinical trials for the safety of patients and clinical staff. As being highly-regulated and traditionally experiencing difficulties in the adoption of new solutions, the healthcare sector as a whole faced the necessity of being more flexible and adjusting faster to the quickly-changing conditions of the global emergency.
But while the whole situation with the Coronavirus is in itself a devastating humanitarian crisis, it also gives a number of opportunities for the MedTech, BioTech and drug research and development sectors to grow, innovate and reshape the healthcare delivery systems across the world. So, here are a few trends that have made or are about to make an important impact in the sector, driving reforms and digital transformation.
Modelling & simulation solutions
Developing computational models for simulating and visualizing biological and medical processes (in silico) is not something new. Computer science in the fields of medicine and biology has been emerging for over 20 years. Companies such as Chemical Computing Group, Certara and Simulations Plus, for example, have been developing solutions for visualizing chemical reactions and biological systems, identifying risk groups, designing and simulating clinical trials with the highest success probability. Such solutions have made a huge impact on the research and development processes, allowing faster regulatory approvals and minimizing costs.
But the global crisis accelerated even bigger growth and innovation in the sector. Modelling and simulation software have massively supported the global research on the virus, the development of new drugs and vaccine for treating it, and the possible effects of already known drugs. Furthermore, with the dramatically disrupted on-site clinical trials, the digital simulations provide opportunities for overcoming the restrictions related to social distancing and at the same time reduce the cost and speed up the processes of drug development. And while there are still some regulatory and technology limitations for these types of trials to be completely replacing the current in vivo clinical trials, they are advancing with a faster pace than ever and are expected to have a huge impact in the near future.
Driven by the increase in research and development activities in the field, the market of computational biology and medicine is expected to reach 11.306 billion dollars by 2025. And it definitely would be interesting to observe how the sector would evolve and grow.
Virtual (remote) care
The remote health care is not a direct result of the current crisis. It has been around for quite some time but has been facing a number of challenges such as regulatory and security hurdles, lack of digital infrastructure and low adoption and acceptance rates among doctors and patients.
The challenges and limitations placed by the global pandemic (the need of social distancing, limited bed capacity, etc.) have caused an increased usage of digital solutions for medical consultations and monitoring by health care workers and a high acceptance among patients. Using the momentum of the crisis, the sector has made a significant progress. A lot of new solutions have been developed and launched to better suit the needs of medical specialists and the people they treat. Some progress has also been made in terms of the legislation constraints. In the US for example, interstate licensing was allowed, supporting, at least temporarily, the adoption of virtual health care.
For all the disruption Covid-19 caused, it also unlocked the real potential of the digital health sector. A shift in the way of how medical examinations and monitoring are conducted would probably be a lasting consequence of the global lockdown. And most probably the sector would see an exponential growth in the following years.
Digital transformation in healthcare organizations
Organizations from any field could significantly benefit from the opportunities provided by the digitalization. Some sectors such as banking, retail and communications have been taking advantage of digital transformation for over a decade. But for healthcare organizations, which are usually part of complex national health systems and are subject to a lot of governmental regulations, the digital transformation has been a sluggish and low-priority process. A 2019 Deloitte report identifies factors such as disproportion and lack of digital maturity of hospitals and primary care centres, limited investments in IT architecture, complexity of the infrastructure and skills needed to implement and adopt new digital solutions and practices, as some of the main obstacles preventing the digital transformation of the sector.
But it seems the global health crisis caused by Covid-19, gave the required push for healthcare institutions and organizations to extend and improve their digital capabilities in terms of internal processes, patients care management, regulatory compliance, etc.
One great example of how quickly a given technology could be utilized is the implementation of the digital infrastructure required for the NHS Nightingale temporary hospital at the Excel Centre in London. An EHR (electronic health record) platform was implemented in a matter of days to help healthcare professionals access and record relevant information for Covid-19 patients.
Another high-speed project, Questers had the pleasure to contribute to, is the digital PPE management tool developed by FutureGov. The solution helped North East London authorities efficiently manage PPE stock in the area, saving time and ensuring the availability of emergency supplies wherever and whenever they were needed.
All of the above examples are clear evidence of the rapid progress the Coronavirus emergency accelerated in the Life Science, MedTech and Healthcare sectors. Precisely, the advancement in these fields showed that there is a capacity for digital transformation and optimization of the health care systems across the globe and that technology could indeed support and further improve human lives.
Technology, MedTechIs your business driving innovation in the MedTech, Healthcare and Life Science sectors? Do you experience the increased demand for your services and the need to grow your development capabilities while staying cost-effective? Do not hesitate to reach out to us. We have helped a number of companies from various sectors expand their R&D divisions and improve their productivity.