Next generation supply chains are integrated into healthcare and the patient experience
Predicting the future of healthcare and life sciences in 2025
10 minute read
Welcome to the eighth in our series of Life Sciences and Healthcare predictions 2025.
Prediction for 2025. Many companies use an interconnected digital supply network (utilising interoperable data) to improve end to end visibility of the supply chain. Track and trace is a blockchain-enabled reality: from manufacturing to the patient and HCPs. AI technologies transform the supply chain and manufacturing through real-time data processing and decision-making: reducing the risks of human subjectivity and bias. Advanced analytics unlock commercial, regulatory and operational data to identify non-linear and complex relationships, as well as provide strategic insights to improve the supply chain. Advanced analytics enable more efficient demand forecasting, inventory management, logistics optimisation, procurement and workforce planning. Biopharma companies also streamline their regulatory compliance functions to overcome functional siloes: improving efficiency across the product lifecycle.
The world in 2025
- Control tower end-to-end visibility. Advanced analytics across the supply chain (with AI tools applied to real-time data) generate actionable insights and improves decision-making/ regulatory compliance.
- Responsible supply chains. Improved transparency has supported companies to collaborate more effectively with regulators to improve compliance and in turn have revaluated their overall value chain, manufacturing and product developments to meet sustainability goals.
- Improved operational effectiveness. Companies have a ‘Resilience by design’ mind-set (e.g. financial/reputational resilience) and deploy predictive maintenance to improve operational effectiveness including optimising machine uptime.
Conquered constraints in 2025
- Skills and talent. Collaborations with experts in other industries improves the skill-set of in-house staff and helps establish a more diverse workforce, including AI design-thinking experts. Manufacturing/distribution staff are more flexible, digitally-literate and open to continuous learning.
- Funding. ROI in digital supply networks has improved across the supply chain. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation have increased convincing companies to invest in advanced technologies (e.g. robotic applications and intelligent real-time monitoring systems).
- Regulations. Regulators use accelerators/‘sandboxes’ to test products, services and business models. International agreements reduce the risk of governments resorting to trade protectionism. Compliance with the EU’s Falsified Medicines Directive and FDA’s Drug Supply Chain Security Act improves traceability/visibility.
- Data and interoperability. Data integrity has improved by establishing a robust IT infrastructure and adopting FAIR standards, reliable connectivity and robust cloud-enabled data security across the DSN. Blockchain technologies provide transparency in tracking systems, especially in multi-nodal hand-offs.
Evidence in 2020
- GSK is accelerating technology adoption to build a ‘pharmaceutical factory of the future’. In 2016, they used Industry 4.0 technologies to build the IIM Digitisation Lab and demonstrate what a ‘data-based strategy’ for manufacturing within the company might look like. One of GSK’s partners, Siemens, was key to integrating data acquisition and use, as well as workflow execution, including the elimination of paper records.
- RxAll and FarmaTrust use AI-enabled digital solutions to fight fake medicines globally. RxAll’s AI-based platform combines a proprietary molecular sensor, a cloud-based DL algorithm, and a database of spectral signatures of drugs to perform non-destructive verification of a drug’s authenticity. Its newest device, the RxScanner II, can identify the authenticity and quality of prescription drugs – in tablet, powder or liquid forms – in 20 seconds with an accuracy of 99.9 per cent. This technology is used by hospitals, pharmacies, biopharma and regulatory bodies around the world.
How COVID-19 has accelerated this prediction
The pandemic has highlighted two things: the pressing need for an operational (and digital) global biopharma supply chain; and the vulnerability of biopharma to global shocks. As such, companies and governments are not only revaluating the resilience/integrity of their sourcing and location strategies.
Biopharma’s challenge is how to develop, manufacture and distribute COVID-19 vaccines safely and efficaciously. Manufacturers have risked standing up manufacturing facilities and preparing a resilient/scalable vaccine supply chain in anticipation of regulatory approval so they can start distributing as quickly as possible. Identification of recipients (vaccine passports) and cold-chain transportation technology integrated with real-time, end-to-end tracking software, will be important in ensuring safe, equitable and efficient distribution. Governments, regulators and pharma companies will have to work together to establish trust in the vaccine.
Maintaining temperature stability of biologics is a key supply chain requirement
Biologics (which include vaccines) are difficult to keep stable with temperature fluctuations and contamination affecting batch quality and yield, especially during transportation. Intelligent Cold-chain transportation technology that allow for real-time end-to-end visibility needs to be integrated with tracking software to track the state of the drugs and take proactive and timely interventions when any issue arises. For example, companies like Vineti Inc and Cryoport Inc integrate IT systems, track shipments and maintain chain of custody and temperature logs in gene therapy patient cycles.
Our series of ten predictions for the life sciences and healthcare industry looks ahead to the year 2025 to help you see what’s coming and to keep your organisation moving forward.
Browse the predictions series, subscribe and listen to our podcast, and watch our webinar on demand to find out more.
If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in our predictions, please do contact one of our specialists listed below.
Director, UK Centre for Health Solutions
Partner, UK Life Sciences and Healthcare Consulting Leader