Life sciences companies have so far implemented only a few digital health services

New study by the Capgemini Research Institute: Despite high ambitions, only a few life sciences companies have the digital, technical and integrative skills to implement connected health. This could open the market entry for big tech companies. […]

The number of approved connected health services will increase by 40 percent over the next five years. This takes into account their potential for greater patient involvement, new treatment options and earlier diagnoses of diseases. Currently, only 20 percent of the approaches for networked health services are reaching beyond the test phase (proof of concept). This is the conclusion reached by the Capgemini Research Institute in its latest study “Unlocking the Value in Connected Health”. Connected health is understood to mean a wide range of digital health products and services, ranging from wellness offers to clinically validated solutions.

“The need and the opportunity to improve the success of treatment for patients are present today. A number of technologies promise to revolutionize treatment pathways and the interaction of patients and healthcare providers. In order to benefit from the advantages of digital health technologies, companies need to build skills, technologies and structures – for a scalable, personalized and integrated connected health portfolio. Larger life sciences organizations are showing promising signs of maturity, but as large tech players are also eyeing the potential, all established market players need to pick up the pace,“ says Dr. Axel Sinner, Director of life sciences consulting at Capgemini Invent.

Currently, only one in six (16 percent) life sciences companies worldwide is testing connected health solutions or has already received market approval for corresponding offers. Overall, the maturity level of connected health is still low for most companies. Over the next five years, the most important therapeutic areas for future connected health products will include neuronal-related diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and epilepsy, followed by rare diseases and immunology. More than half of the life sciences companies are planning to develop solutions for this purpose: for remote observation of patients, for digital biomarker applications (e.g. with biosensors that can be worn on the body), AI-supported predictive diagnostics and preventive medicine.

Too few life sciences companies have the organizational and technical maturity
However, the industry is currently still far from implementing such solutions in a ready-to-use manner. Only a quarter of the life sciences companies surveyed have the necessary maturity in key areas of the digitally networked health sector such as portfolio strategy, product design and product development. The study also found that less than a third of companies have the digital, technological, and integrative capabilities needed for successful connected health initiatives. For example, only a quarter of companies use artificial intelligence to analyze real-time data from connected health products. Even fewer (21 percent) have a central unit to promote innovations, synergies and best practices in their connected health portfolio.

Higher degree of maturity is more likely in large companies

It is predominantly the larger companies that have the required degree of maturity of connected health – beyond the strategy phase. Nearly half of life sciences companies with more than $20 billion in revenue said their portfolio strategy and planning is mature, compared to only 17 percent of companies with less than a billion dollars in revenue.

The reasons for this discrepancy are many. But above all, they lie in the fact that larger companies are better able to cope with the two most demanding challenges in the development and scaling of connected health: (IT) security and regulatory approvals.

According to the Capgemini study, smaller life sciences companies in particular are catching up. The reasons for their lack of maturity could be due to the fact that managers from IT on the one hand and from the business divisions on the other hand assess the existing skills in the company differently: for example, almost half of the representatives of the business side believe that their company has adequate skills in the field of augmented and virtual reality for networked health services. However, only 20 percent of tech executives agree. Augmented and virtual reality, systems theory and interoperability, engineering and human-centered design are the technical skills where the biggest gaps exist.

Six approaches to improve the maturity of Connected Health

According to the study, companies can use six approaches to increase their level of maturity in connected health and accelerate the development of concrete applications:

  • Definition of a commercial connected health strategy, aligned with the existing portfolio plans
  • Development of connected health products with measurable patient benefit and treatment result
  • Building a data ecosystem that enables and promotes secure data exchange and interoperability within and outside the company
  • Qualification of employees in the areas of data science, behavioral research and agile development
  • Centralize connected health governance, business model and financial structures to drive growth and regulatory coordination
  • Building a connected health ecosystem that offers structure and guidelines, but also allows open innovation

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