15 pharma trends for 2020

Real world evidence, patient centricity and new digital experiences are among the top 15 trends set to change clinical research and treatment commercialisation in 2020, according to Syneos Health’s annual trends report.

The report, following on from the company’s shakeup of its forecast format last year, outlines critical shifts and the underlying dynamics that it believes will shape biopharmaceutical decision making in 2020.

The authors interviewed hundreds of healthcare workers about the industry shifts and market changes they are seeing in their regions and therapeutic areas. From there, they focused on the 15 most frequently-reported trends.

“So many of the micro shifts we’ve seen nudging healthcare to change are coming to maturity, genuinely revolutionising the way we work and live,” said Leigh Householder, managing director, innovation, Syneos Health Communications and lead author of the report. “These trends illuminate the areas where we need to work fast and smart to relentlessly pursue better relationships, solutions and stakeholders experiences.”

One trend the authors identify is that the once approval-driven clinical world is evolving to focus more on real world evidence (RWE) and building “value stories”.

“A big phrase for 2020 will be endpoints and experiences that matter to patients”

“From big expectations for innovation to bulk pricing, payers, advocates and regulators are challenging biopharmaceutical leaders to show initial population-relevant data and defend value against constant change,” the report notes.

Meanwhile, the report says that the industry has moved “from buzzword to activation” when it comes to patient-centricity.

“Clinical teams are engaging patients around endpoints and experiences, while commercial teams build health platforms and new ways to put stakeholders first.”

Meanwhile, leaders are launching initiatives to address the “trust deficit” as people continue to question industry, platform and company reputation.

Importantly, the ways in which patients interact with healthcare and the pharma industry are changing rapidly as digital technologies evolve.

“Digital experiences are taking another big step forward with new ways to treat, access and learn.

“Advances in digital care connections and the growth of new customer segments have opened new ways of making healthcare more scalable and accommodating to both baby boomer demands and millennial disruption.

“Entrepreneurs and longtime leaders are taking advantage of new interfaces to create conversational support and clinical efficacy. The solutions aren’t just for patients: we’re looking at whole new levels of assistance for payers and providers too,” the report says, adding that these interfaces are “dramatically changing” where people find care and how they engage with clinical research.

Similarly, a key trend identified by the interviewees are the shifts in clinical trial user experience, changing how patients engage with research – from interactive, personal ways to connect with new trial participants to new technologies and tools that make learning easy.

“A big phrase for 2020 [will be] endpoints and experiences that matter to patients. From trial design to open engagement platforms, life science leaders are bringing patients to the forefront of conversations from clinical recruitment to trial design to everyday tools for health and treatment success.”

From a R&D standpoint, the interviewed health workers noted the advances in cancer treatment as a key trend, with a record number of new oncology treatments having been approved in recent years.

“You can’t talk about trends in 2020 without talking about the battle life sciences is waging against the disease of our times,” the report says.

Meanwhile, in the realm of commercialisation, the report notes that life science leaders are “resetting their focus on core assets”, building ROI models around data investments and starting to talk about how work changes when purpose changes – while aiming to be more sophisticated in day-to-day engagement with payers and systems around subjects like population data and “increasingly aggressive” tendering.

Silos will continue to break down and companies will embrace strategic integration of outsourcing and agile ways of working that help everyone experiment and learn together.

The report calls innovation in communications the ‘linchpin’ of these changes and a major facilitator of success – with questions around how to make it easy for payers and systems to see value, for doctors and providers to see innovation, and for patients and carers to see hope being key. It predicts that omnichannel and behavioural science will become increasingly important to making sure people get meaningful messages at the right time.

“As we enter the next decade, the state of biopharmaceutical change continues to accelerate – from scientific advances redefining what’s possible to new technologies that are changing how we generate and act on data to improve health,” said Alistair Macdonald, Syneos’ CEO. “In the midst of rapid change, it’s critical to understand and anticipate market dynamics that will impact healthcare decision making. Tapping these insights will enable all stakeholder communities to better speed innovation to change patients’ lives.”

Read the full report here.