Point of View

Life sciences third-party service providers, support your clients by driving meaningful change—“business as usual” isn’t enough

March 9, 2020

As digitization sweeps every industry in the new age of hyper-convenient, customer-centric models, the healthcare and life science communities must prepare to follow suit. The life sciences industry is hurtling toward a hyperconnected future state that requires a patient-centric collaborative ecosystem across healthcare, life sciences, and the public sector. The industry has to transform while simultaneously managing pricing pressures, low R&D returns, and changing product mix (a rise of biologics, personalized medicine, and med-tech). Emerging technologies across the Triple-A Trifecta (automation, analytics, and AI) along with IoT, blockchain, AR/VR, and 3D printing have captivated the C-suites to get to the promised land. But the roadmap to get there continues to be hazy.


The life sciences industry is dealing with intense margin pressure and significant risk at the same time


Across the board, there is pressure on profitability. Increasing prices is hardly an option anymore as the political and social rhetoric around already high pharma pricing (especially in the US) has intensified. While favorable new regulations such as the 21st Century Cures Law are facilitating faster seed-to-market for breakthrough drugs, the overall research and development (R&D) returns are decreasing. A recent EvaluatePharma report forecasts a CAGR of 3.1% for R&D spending into 2024, which is lower than the 2010–2017 CAGR of 3.6%. Patent expirations and the rise of biosimilars are also putting pressure on R&D. At the same time, the product mix has also changed dramatically with the rise of biologics, personalized medicine, and MedTech.  Consequently, most of the investment dollars are pushed toward mega acquisitions, leaving little to no money for other investments.




Chart by Biopharmadive



The survival of life sciences depends on staying at the edge of technological innovation


Rapid advancements in technological fields are paving the way for the life sciences industry to manage the myriad pressures they face while getting them future-ready. The Triple-A Trifecta is helping drive business transformation, develop new therapies, and address productivity challenges across R&D, clinical trials, supply chain, and operations. Savvy enterprise leaders want to harness these innovations for their best use as quickly as possible to keep up. However, along with these technological advances, there is also the added concern of managing security risks, including new strengthening threats from cyber sources. Horizon 3 technologies like blockchain, IoT, AR/VR, 3D printing, and even quantum computing are starting to find use cases in life sciences. The new in-demand talent areas are data scientists, statisticians, and technologists, to the point where some are calling it a “war for talent” in these sectors.


Third-party service providers and large SIs (system integrators) are also pivoting to this new reality. For instance, TCS is augmenting its strong domain expertise and large-scale IT services with IP-focused and platform-based offerings. It has launched several digital platforms for life sciences, including Decision Fabric (to democratize analytics), Life Science Advanced Drug Development (ADD) platform, Connected Clinical Trials (CCT) platform, and Cognitive Commercial Intelligence Platform, along with nine innovation labs to conduct proofs of concept (POCs) and showcase digital solutions.


Increasing consumerization mandates a OneOffice approach


The rising global consumerization requires life sciences to invest in multiple channels . According to a recent study from Deloitte, personalized medicine is expected to achieve an 11% CAGR for the period of 2017–2024, nearly double the expected growth in overall prescription drug sales (pegged at 6.4%). More life sciences firms today are building digital assistants, interactive bots to deliver personalized patient experience and support. Meet Ella (from Accenture), an AI-driven virtual care assistant. Soon Ella and its lookalikes will become a standard offering from biopharma and med devices to stay connected with their patients.


The mega life sciences firms continue to struggle with internal silos across value chains. But this siloed front-, middle-, and back-office culture with its lack of organizational alignment across IT and business cannot create the consumer experience that is required today. Life sciences firms need a OneOffice format that unites data and talent across internal silos.


Emerging technologies can support the delivery of a OneOffice approach. Take Accenture’s INTIENT platform, for instance. It vastly improves the continuity and flow of data across life sciences enterprises, supporting the delivery of ground-breaking treatments for patients. However, technology alone cannot create the OneOffice experience; it requires a fundamental shift in organizational mindset and culture. In one of our recent G2000 surveys, nearly every healthcare and life sciences firm agrees with the OneOffice concept, but hardly anyone has achieved it!


A hyperconnected life sciences ecosystem is emerging


Along with the OneOffice (internal transformation to create a consumer-centric organization), life sciences firms also need to invest in building a smart external ecosystem through partnerships with payers, providers, technology providers, and clinical collaborations. The consumer has to deal with so many different stakeholders, and especially in the US, it’s highly fragmented. An ecosystem needs to evolve, where the patient needs to have a seamless experience between the payer and the provider, and the life sciences and the government. But bringing people together in the healthcare and life sciences industry has been hard where incentives are misaligned, trust is lacking, and sharing culture is mostly missing. Emerging technologies such as blockchain can become the fundamental underlying technology in the future to drive such ecosystems and bring different entities together with the shared purpose of better serving the needs of the end customer (or the patient). Cognizant’s investments into its vision of the “Fused Enterprise” for life sciences is aligned with this concept of the hyperconnected enterprise.


The Bottom Line: The role of third-party service providers in the life sciences industry is no longer just supporting “business-as-usual.”


Providers must assist their clients in driving “meaningful change.” Worry less about the size and scale of your service provider’s life sciences practice, and evaluate their ability to partner with you bringing the latest technological innovations, a OneOffice experience, and a hyperconnected future state vision. Please read our latest Top 10 Life Sciences Service Providers Report to find out which service providers can meet these aspirational goals.




Sign in to view or download this research.


Lost your password?


Insight. Inspiration. Impact.

Register now for immediate access of HFS' research, data and forward looking trends.

Get Started