Throughout 2018, novel technologies and science were tested and harnessed faster than ever, said Leigh Householder, executive vice president, insights and innovation, Syneos Health. “New digital interventions are accelerating and enhancing research with more and better data,” she told us.
In parallel, global regulatory criteria are evolving and accelerating the availability of new insights, and subsequently leading to an increasing number of novel treatments, such as mutation-derived targeted gene therapies, said Householder.
However, this “profusion of information” also is heightening the industry’s focus on health care providers (HCPs), who are reporting higher levels of professional burnout and mental health challenges.
“In some ways, this isn’t new,” Householder noted. “It’s a uniquely stressful profession in some inescapable ways. But many physicians point to the heightened influx of information—and the difficulty of keeping up—as adding new dimensions to their unease and even impacting the level of care they provide.”
The “rewired health care practitioner” is among the top trends outlined in Syneos Health’s recently released 2019 trends forecast.
Other trends include “radical” internal re-organization, which could be perhaps the greatest challenge in the year ahead, Householder said, one driven by “a basic economic need to flex the cost structure,” according to the report.
“The internal change we can expect from industry leaders is about a lot more than just flexing cost structure,” she explained. “Rather, leading-edge life sciences companies are looking outward to build fundamentally new spreads of talent.”
Householder noted that while the industry is still seeing many brands forge new external partnerships – which she said have been materializing for years – the internal, structural innovations “represent a newer trend with fewer examples to model.”
Also this year, Householder said patient centricity will “make a comeback in brand-new ways” driven by the intersection of data and science, which is enabling health care systems to support consumers on a more personal level. These systems are creating maps of the patient journey that are more reflective of real-world patient experiences, “aiming, ultimately, to own a highly specific patient population, rather than a broader category,” she added.
Householder explained, “This will fundamentally reshape many patients’ experiences of health care, especially as health care leaders make new forays into consumers’ own digital ecosystems.”
An important new trend also gaining traction is more frequent and detailed conversations about the cost of care. However, Householder said, “it has so many moving parts that it’s developing comparatively gradually.”
“These conversations are critical, and they’re perhaps the most important ingredient of real change on this front,” she added. “In addition to continued dialogue, more concerted exploration of the possibilities inherent in electronic health records—which can showcase the complete array of costs underlying a treatment regimen—will facilitate this trend’s growth.”