The life science sector has always been a fast-paced, vital, world-changing area to work in; and never has that been made more clear in such a short period of time than in the last couple of years.
With revolutionary developments, fast turnarounds of new procedures in research, development and testing, and monumental hurdles to overcome - the changes in life sciences have been rapid and enduring at every level. So the big question is: what's coming next?
2022 is already a very different year than the rest of the decade so far, and the needs of companies working in life sciences are hard to pin down. But as experts in consulting for these companies, we can already see a few trends in the pipeline that hint at what to expect in this changing field.
Here's what to keep an eye on in life sciences through 2022.
Digital Health Transformation
Throughout 2022 we can expect to see public and private healthcare organisations continue to adopt more digital practices.
Many pharmaceutical companies within the life sciences industry see the benefits of a digital transformation. For example, electronic data capture continues to replace outdated paper-based methods. Additionally, there has been an increase in telemedicine tools and device connectivity, improving real-time data management, collection, and analysis efficiency.
In 2020, digital health companies raised $14.1 billion in venture capital funding, according to non-profit digital health company Rock Health. This was a 72% increase from 2018 and the largest sum achieved since 2011. So, the digital transformation within life sciences is nothing new. However, it has been accelerated by the pandemic and will become more prevalent over the coming years.
If you’re working in the sector and haven’t yet embraced digitalisation, you’re at risk of being left behind by the competition who can deliver the same services more quickly and accurately.
AI and Automation
A recent survey revealed that 83% of life sciences respondents were using some form of artificial intelligence and automation in R&D. Tying in with the digital transformation and life science technology trends, 2022 will see a rise in AI and automation. This growth will significantly affect areas such as commercialisation, manufacturing and quality.
Emerging technology in AI and machine learning benefits areas such as clinical trials, cybersecurity, and drug development. The latter is expected to grow at a rate of 38% by 2025. Additionally, intelligent machinery and computer systems will make decision-making, speech recognition, and visual perception tasks more efficient.
What does this mean for you? Once again, it’s all about efficiency. Adding AI and automation solutions into your operations can seem challenging and even disruptive, but the long term solutions of the added efficiency and time-saving will save you considerable money while helping you achieve your business goals - whether that’s by improving the speed and quality of your manufacturing or helping you overcome the competition.
Innovations in Medical Devices
Within the current decade, it’s predicted that 50 billion medical devices will be integrated into clinical systems. 2022 will see these ever-evolving innovative devices help deliver therapeutic support, monitor post-surgery recovery, and support patients' overall wellness.
Minimally invasive devices to treat depression, chronic pain, eye health, and other conditions are on the rise. Wearable medical devices, such as wearable biosensors and heart and blood pressure monitors, will also continue to be more widely accessible, with the market projected to reach $195 billion by 2027.
Real-time cloud-based data-tracking systems that wirelessly connect with these devices are helping both the end-user manage their wellness, and the developers understand more about the needs, uses and benefits of their products - leading to greater understandings of the public’s health and improvements in future product development. Overall, the innovation in medical devices will create more efficient and seamless ways of monitoring healthcare.
Continued Growth in R&D
Without a doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the innovation within R&D, especially in the pharmaceutical market. As a result, greater amounts of investment will go towards research and development within the life sciences in 2022 and beyond.
Pharmaceutical companies will hone their attention on the importance of medications. They will refine their current practices to ensure their research and development delivers their intended value. In addition, an increased focus will be put on efficiency and effectiveness. This means the discovery of medication to improve the quality of life in a more meaningful way will improve.
The RNA Revolution
RNA (mRNA) proved pivotal in developing the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. As a result, the once-obscure and complex molecule cemented itself as a critical innovator within biotech and pharma. With global growth in mRNA therapeutics expected to rise from $46.7 billion in 2021 to $101.3 billion by 2026, the RNA revolution will continue to embed itself in the long term future of the life sciences sector in 2022.
First discovered in 1961, RNA has been used in Covid vaccines to help combat the pandemic with great success. In addition, RNA has demonstrated it is a scalable, versatile and adaptable molecule. This is echoed by the fact mRNA formulas can be produced in days and clinically manufactured in weeks.
Due to its groundbreaking success, we can expect to see the continued development of RNA within life sciences. Moreover, future RNA-therapies won't just help counter Covid; it has the potential to treat other illnesses and genetic-based diseases.
Decentralised Clinical Trials
A common trend within the trends already discussed is the importance and focus on digital in 2022. Clinical trials will become more decentralised as the life sciences sector harnesses the potential of new digital technologies.
Clinical trials will become more accessible for patients due to the flexibility of decentralisation. Practices will reach more people and may even carry out trials remotely. In turn, this will enable more diversity within clinical trials.
With decentralisation, those within life sciences must uphold transparency and security from the data gathered. In addition, patients must be able to trust the generated insights and know-how to use them. As a result, we will likely see more efficient data capture sources and solutions develop and come to fruition.
Another trend we'll see in 2022, sped up by the pandemic, is a focus on patient-centred support. Patients will take a more active role in their health. Additionally, individuals within life sciences will deliver a more end-to-end digital experience for patients.
Remote patient monitoring has become the norm in the current climate. Zoom appointments have replaced face-to-face referrals, and people are becoming more accustomed to self-testing for illnesses. We will see more of this in 2022 as the industry embraces digitalised patient care.
As a result, hospitalisations could be reduced, and patients will have the opportunity to receive higher levels of education and engagement with their healthcare. This gradual transition can ultimately benefit both the patients and those in life sciences.
The opportunity for businesses here is to find more ways to interact remotely with the public - through greater use of technologies such as embedded software in wearables or by providing more access to different forms of healthcare data.
Finally, staying with the remote theme, remote working will also be a trend for 2022.
The life sciences sector has accepted work within the industry can be done effectively in a remote setting.
Life science companies now offer or are expected to provide some form of hybrid working for their employees. Again, the pandemic has been the main contributing factor to normalising this way of working. This is all part of the digital overhaul shaping the landscape of the sector's future.
At CMC, our life science consultants are experts in the massive range of specialisms that can be encompassed by this wide-ranging sector. By working with global businesses transforming the industry, we can stay on top of the latest developments in 2022 and use this knowledge to support your business.
New research, new developments, new technologies and new regulations change a business's drives and goals within this sector all the time - often mid-project. So flexibility and dependence on the expertise of people who can lead a new project is key. That’s why we deliver an end-to-end service with fast turnarounds to help you cross the line and deliver the products, services and transformational developments you work with on time and on budget.
Get in touch today and discover how our team of specialist life science experts can help your business achieve your goals.