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10 major health care / pharmaceutical trends

Jim Carroll has been a keynote speaker for numerous high profile health care / pharma events. He was the opening keynote speaker for the 2011 World Pharma Innovation Congress in London, UK; the closing keynote speaker for the 4th World Healthcare Innovation & Technology Congress in Washington, D.C. and recently hosted a private CEO leadership meeting for a major health care company in Munich, Germany. There have been countless other corporate CEO level events, annual association meetings and other conferences. He's established a global reputation as a 'thought leader' providing inspirational insight on the trends that will provide opportunity in the future, and the innovation ideas that will help organizations achieve new transformative market opportunities


I’m off to do a half day session with a major player in the pharmaceutical industry; I’ve compiled a list of the 10 key pharmaceutical / health care trends that they should be thinking about.

I’ll be walking through these issues, and will then lead a workshop focused on the question: how do we ensure we have the agility, insight and execution in order to survive and thrive in this period of rapid change?

I’ve done extensive work within the healthcare sector over the last many years; this is one industry where the rapidity of scientific driven change is simply unprecedented. Think about what is really happening around us, and think about what needs to be done:

  • A transformative shift – Personalized medicine drives the agenda: the big picture item is that we are in the midst of a fundamental, significant shift in healthcare philosophy and medical research: from a world in which we “react” to disease and illness after it has happened, to one in which we will be doing far more to “prevent” health care problems through highly personalized medicine.This is primarily coming about because of furious rates of discovery related to genomics. This more than anything will dominate the health care / pharmaceutical research / delivery agenda through the next years.
  • Knowledge growth becomes exponential; pace of innovation / discovery picks up: medical knowledge is now doubling every eight years. Expect it to be doubling every two years by 2010 — with the result that medical professionals will be struggling to an even greater degree in keeping up than they are today. Research taps out practical results faster than ever before. The key for everyone is tapping into global collaborative discoveries / keeping up / developing agility for rapid innovation, response, development, and implementation. For pharmaceutical and health care suppliers, it’s about rapid development and rapid time to market.
  • Discovery moves offshore: for a good chunk of the pharmaceutical industry, the proces of R&D, approval and application will increasingly move offshore, particularly to China / India, due to different regulatory requirements (or lack thereof). Also, such things as stem-cell research limitations, US visa policies and other factors play a factor in the diminishing role of the US as a pharmaceutical industry hub. The pharmaceutical industry will continue to spend a huge amount of time learning to work within the new shifting zones of influence in the world of research.
  • Theory into practice becomes the primary focus; operational excellence is key: already, health care can’t keep up with the rate of scientific discovery: “Because of the rapid discovery of new medical knowledge, you’ll get the most up to date treatment today only 50% of the time” is one key stat to remember. Tomorrow, the prime focus in the medical community will be how to ingest and incorporate this new knowledge into practice. In terms of the pharmaceutical industry, the key goal will be “operational excellence,” i.e. ….from the Financial Times 6 Jun article on Roche, “…the Avastin story also highlights a central issue for innovation-led companies: how to make sure advances in the laboratory are brought to market quickly and efficiently.” There’s a whole line of thinking emerging in that article and elsewhere that puts into perspective that collaborative excellence in managing complex teams is quickly becoming a key and critical success factor.
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  • Skills fragment and a battle for skills drives decisions: hyper-growth in knowledge and new medical discoveries means that every medical profession is becoming more specialized, leading to a greater degree of niche-oriented medical skills than we see today. In the pharmaceutical industry, small biotech companies will continue to dominate the research agenda over big-pharma, by focusing on ever tighter niche markets, as well as by discovering disease-oriented drugs based on specific genetic markers. Skills fragmentation results in challenges, but so does the looming baby boomer retirement wave. A war for medical talent drives much of the agenda of the industry by 2010, and the battleground is global in scope.
  • Complexity partnerships take on an increasing role: because of the skills crisis, rapid discovery, need for operational excellence, knowledge growth and discovery, big/medium the pharmaceutical industry will continue to look to shed additional component pieces of the discovery / regulatory approval process; outsourcing takes on a whole new meaning.
  • Bio-informatics emerges, core competence becomes critical: Microsoft estimates that at least 50,000 people worldwide are working in the field of bio-informatics – the folks who are developing the highly sophisticated computer databases and computational methodologies that can do the billions of measurements on an individual patient that is leading us into the era of personalized medicine.
  • Bio-connectivity becomes the next big thing: a new generation of intelligent, Internet-connected medical devices flood the industry, providing new opportunities for monitoring and management of difficult health care conditions. Furious pace of innovation occurs here as consumer tech trends (collapsing product lifecycles) come to medical devices and medical technology.
  • Hospitals get “de-physical”, customer service comes to the industry: today, a health care institution is thought of as the building or campus that makes up its constituent parts. Tomorrow, it will be defined by the reach of its virtual network, and the hospital will be thought of as the extended community network by which a good portion of its services are provided. Walmart is coming to health care; the Minute-Clinic business model and others like it mean that we are seeing a revolution in customer service come to the industry.
  • Generational attitude transforms the system: the entrance of Gen-Y — kids who are in 2005 aged 15 — into the health care system — will bring a flood of new ideas, innovation and new ways of thinking helping to break some of the organizational sclerosis that has clogged up the opportunity for change in the world of health care.

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