A life sciences and health care perspective: Tech Trends 2018

Technology trends transforming the future of life sciences and health care

From “doing digital” to “being digital,” that’s where the life sciences and health care industry needs to go. To help your business navigate digital disruption, this series provides a life sciences and health care perspective on Deloitte's 2018 Tech Trends report. From blockchain to digital reality to the no-collar workforce, explore eight trends that are shaping strategic and operational transformations and redefining life sciences and health care.

Digital reality across the journey of care

Digital reality is leading us toward a new way of seeing that can make a difference in designing new treatments, administering care, and improving patients’ lives. Where can it take us next?

Digital reality in life sciences and health care

Augmented and digital reality tools are poised to change the ways doctors and patients collaborate

What if a surgeon or patient could train or prepare for a complex procedure by simulating it first in a 360-degree, 3D simulation? What if a patient could put aside the pamphlets and actually see the impact a diet would have on his or her future appearance? What if impaired mobility patients could experience brain- and coordination-building activities in complete safety?

Immersive "digital reality" tools such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are making these scenarios increasingly realistic. As with many earlier technology waves, VR and AR got an early boost from frivolous uses and are graduating to more constructive roles. Barriers to technology, cost, and content are beginning to fall, and early adopters are already hard at work.

Where are these technologies headed in the life sciences and health care sectors? Developers are beginning to hear and answer the call for applications designed specifically for clinical, research, and educational use across the industry. We could soon see a day when VR and AR will be central to core integration, cloud deployment, and enhanced connectivity and access.

Blockchain to blockchains in life sciences and health care

What broader integration is making possible today

For life sciences and health care, blockchain constructs for sharing and authenticating data has the potential to enhance collaboration, trust, interoperability, traceability, and auditability across a range of functions such as clinical trials, supply chain management, financial transactions, credentialing, and claims processing. The shift from blockchain to blockchains—to networks of networks—is particularly compelling in life sciences and health care, where the distinct sectors work together in one broadly interdependent ecosystem.

Among the earliest practical use cases in the industry are ones in which blockchain can help handle identity better—in electronic health records and beyond. In place of multiple, duplicative records crossing from silo to silo, imagine a single, massive, longitudinal patient record that every player in the system—from patient to doctor to insurer to researcher—can use without any loss of privacy or security.

Companies should look to standardize the technology, talent, and platforms that will drive future initiatives. But individual organizations can only go so far in promoting blockchain. Its broad implementation in the life sciences and health care ecosystem will take a “tipping point” of trust and adoption among stakeholders, including patients. Collaborating with different stakeholders on pilots allows organizations to share the costs of experimentation and model the multi-party commitments that a later, full-scale implementation will involve. An architecture that can connect everyone must have broad acceptance before it does connect everyone.

The no-collar workforce in life sciences and health care

When humans and machines team up, improvement in outcomes and job satisfaction can rise together.

The nature of work across almost every industry is being disrupted by rapidly evolving digital technology—driving increased automation, affecting the proximity of where work is performed, and giving rise to new and open talent models.

As emerging technologies continue to gain traction and shift the way work is performed, organizations across industries have a tremendous opportunity to reimagine worker roles to serve more strategic objectives, considering the human value-added skills necessary to support a hybrid workforce model in which technology augments human performance.

The term “no-collar” workforce references a powerful collaboration of humans and technology where the unique strengths of both can be leveraged. Across health plans, health care providers, and life sciences organizations, the move to a no-collar workforce creates a compelling opportunity to improve clinical outcomes, reduce per capita costs, enhance the patient experience, and create a more fulfilling and effective workforce.

The API imperative in life sciences and health care

From IT concern to business mandate to drive digital acceleration

For as long as computer science has been in existence, so too have application programming interfaces (APIs). APIs in any form over the last 20 years have helped connect data, applications, and ultimately business processes across disparate technology systems. However, the role and function of APIs is drastically changing, with APIs becoming an important ingredient in the life sciences and health care industry as they aim to improve interoperability and data exchange.

Now that the first step in the digitization of health care—the adoption of EHRs—is mostly complete, the industry is turning to APIs to help unleash the transformative power of its data through the integration that APIs help provide—at least that’s the idea. But life sciences and health care organizations have been slower than other industries to leverage the strategic capabilities enabled by APIs.

As the industry evolves toward broader, enterprise-wide value chain capabilities—driven by heightened competition and advanced technologies—the business case for information flow and access within and outside the enterprise is more solid than ever. The justification is making widespread adoption of APIs a strategic imperative—sooner rather than later.

The new core in life sciences and health care

Ready for the spotlight: unleashing the digital potential in "heart of the business" operations

Technology that lives out front—where patients, members, and customers can see it—can help a life sciences or health care organization shine. But the technology at the core—that most people never see—makes an organization work. Back-office systems, and the quality of their connections with front-end enterprise functions, are the critical infrastructure that make pricing, product availability, logistics, quality, financials, and other “heart of the business” information available where it’s needed.

In the midst of the digital revolution, the core’s full potential in life sciences and health care remains largely untapped. But expect to see movement here over the course of the next 12-18 months as CIOs, CFOs, COOs, and supply chain leaders begin developing new digital capabilities in their core systems. We are not talking about deploying point solutions or shiny digital add-ons. Rather, this is about constructing a new core in which automation, analytics, real-time analysis and reporting, and interconnections are baked into systems and processes, fundamentally changing how work gets done.

With a comprehensive strategy and a willingness to take measured steps ahead, life sciences and health care organizations can join organizations in other industries that have charted a way forward. Because they haven’t often been the first to move, life sciences and health care organizations can learn from those that have already embarked on the transformation. These investments may not be the most glamorous ones a company makes. But they may be some of the most important.

Tales of transformation

A life sciences and health care podcast series

Tune in to our podcast series to stay a step ahead of the trends shaping the life sciences and health care industry.

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