Pharma's ambition in connected health not yet matched by execution


Four out of five biopharma companies think that the market opportunity for connected health products exceeds their traditional drug business, but adoption remains low, with only 20% of use cases at present going beyond proof of concept.

That's one of the conclusions of a new study by Capgemini, which suggests that the number of approved connected health offerings – digital health products and services including wearables, digital therapeutics and software-as-a-medical-device (SaMD) – will grow 40% over the next five years.

That said, only 16% of life sciences companies are either testing or health connected health technologies on the market at the moment, so that increase will come from a low level, although they anticipate these will account for 13% of their total turnover within five years.

The drivers for take-up will be the potential for digital health technologies to improve patient engagement, provide new treatment approaches and diagnose diseases more quickly, says the report, entitled Unlocking the Value in Connected Health.

The findings come from a survey of 523 life science executives from 166 companies in the US and Europe, which suggests that the top therapeutic areas for future connected health products in the next five years include neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, and epilepsy, followed by rare diseases, and immunological conditions.

The most prominent use cases were remote patient monitoring, digital biomarker applications such as wearable biosensors, and artificial intelligence-enabled diagnostics and preventive medicines, according to the report.

"The results of our research reveal that most biopharma companies are still developing their connected health models, and that overall maturity of connected health portfolios remains low," says Capgemini, which notes that 84% of executives said their companies are still "strategizing" their approach.

Ambitions are "lofty", however, with many respondents saying they regard connected health as the most viable long-term model for the sector.

So what's holding back the category? More than half (54%) of those surveyed said that security vulnerabilities, such as developing compliant software, is the top obstacle, followed by the different regulatory requirements of digital versus conventional therapeutics.

Overall, the survey found that less than a third of organisations have the digital, technological, and collaborative capabilities needed for successful connected health initiatives, and just 21% have a dedicated centre to take the lead in this area.

"The demand and the opportunity for improved patient outcomes is there today, and a number of technologies hold the promise to revolutionise treatment pathways and patients' interactions with healthcare providers," according to Capgemini's global life sciences lead Olivier Zitoun.

"To reap the benefits of digital health technologies, organisations will need to address the skills, technology, and structural gaps in order to build a scalable, personalised, and integrated connected health portfolio," he added.

The full report can be read here.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay