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Five predictions for COVID-19 driven agility across the Life Science value chain

June 1, 2020

Life Sciences organizations navigate in a new and uncertain environment and they seek to leverage the acceleration that only a few months ago seemed out of reach. More than ever the mantras of digitization, automation, and direct to consumer are becoming the obvious answers.

Prediction 1: R&D will seize the moment to embrace new discovery and delivery models and to change how the world views clinical trials

Faced with disruption to in-flight clinical trials and significant delays in drug development pipelines that run a decade or longer, stakeholders in drug discovery are now ready to reimagine the way research is conducted. For the last few years, novel discovery models leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and real-world evidence (RWE) and delivery models for remote conduct of clinical trials emerged but were hamstrung by slow adoption by regulators and risk-adverse pharma.

Now with an immediate need for COVID-19 vaccine and treatment, the industry is being forced to push beyond old boundaries to accelerate. Pharma will embrace new channels for the identification, testing, and surveillance of patients who have been afflicted with coronavirus in order to fuel their trials. An aggressive reworking of everything from care modalities such as telemedicine to investigational drug supply chains will follow.

Most important, the normalization of clinical research as a care option in the face of this pandemic driven by daily briefings from world leaders finally places a spotlight on our role as citizen scientists.

Prediction 2: The democratization of healthcare to consumers will accelerate, leading to digital-first innovations in sales and marketing

The pandemic has cancelled many events and conferences and confined salesforces to their homes. That means new direct-to-consumer (D2C) business models will inevitably emerge to fulfill customer demands. Pharma and medical device companies, like the retail industry, will need to explore opportunities to deliver more personal experiences and service customers from a distance. Digital enabling technologies will see a significant rise. From virtual events and digital conferences to distribution of information and content about products remotely and AR/VR digital assistants for physicians and device operators will increase in adoption.

Life Sciences companies will have to drastically reinvent and shift their approach of personal and non-personal tactics to keep in touch with customers and prescribers.

Prediction 3: Supply chain agility will support the reimagining of business models

As pharma looks for new ways to shore up its supply chain, we will see a renewed focus on agility. They will look for new sources of raw materials and supplies and new ways to deliver investigational and commercial products. Without increased agility, pharma risks facing a similar fate of some of the biggest destinations in our current food supply. Large-scale establishments such as chain restaurants, schools, and workplace cafeterias are on the decline but the business model is not currently agile enough to adapt to a direct to consumer application. This is leading to enormous waste.

Life Sciences clients need to explore how changes to their own large-scale supply “destinations” such as hospitals and pharmacies could foreshadow similar impacts. If executed correctly, this crisis could lead to a rebalancing of the supply chain in healthcare, geographically making way for models that improve integrations, ensure predictability, force partnerships, and retrain demand-planning algorithms. The end of last year saw some notable partnership announcements for drone deliveries for pharmacies. Those partnerships take on a new weight in the time of social distancing.

Prediction 4: The need for speed will force regulators to adopt more risk

The rampant spread of the illness is forcing regulatory agencies and governments to let out slack in some restrictions in order to reduce the time to get diagnostics, therapies, vaccines and even a cure into the hands of the patients much faster. For example, the recent guidance from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) implementing changes to telehealth programs in response to the pandemic.

Safety will always be the number-one priority. Well-thought-out regulatory easing will enable the curation of a body of proof that can support the value of adopting more risk in some arenas to the benefit of human health.

Prediction 5: Digital surveillance becomes the new normal  

Remote interactions during the pandemic is becoming critical. That has given rise to two key areas of focus for our industry – telehealth/telemedicine and remote patient monitoring (RPM)

Telehealth and telemedicine is a new standard for physicians and practitioners that empowers them to diagnose, treat, and operate on patients without the need to be physically present. RPM powered by AI can help medical workers to collect, monitor, and track their patients, analyze data in real time, and step in when necessary.

The necessity to start implementing these solutions to combat COVID-19 today can pave the way for increased adoption moving forward. Telehealth and telemedicine will bring a new level of accessibility to patients and their practitioners alike.

Transformation of the Life Sciences value chain

While we are faced with a crisis of global proportions, we can take hope from the revolution that will take place in Life Sciences as we settle into the new normal. As new policies, regulations, and innovations emerge we are on the cusp of a great transformation across the value chain that will enable Life Sciences organization to realize the full potential of this moment for the betterment of humankind.

Learn more about How to accelerate a healthy recovery in life sciences to help you combat the unprecedented challenges this crisis has brought.


Nirmala Iyengar – Principal, Life Sciences Nirmala is a Principal in the Life Sciences segment of Capgemini. She provides consulting services in the areas of R&D, Clinical, LIMS, Sales and Marketing, Regulatory, and Compliance initiatives. As a Client Partner, she works closely with client executives to drive IT solutions for their critical business opportunities and challenges.  
Angela Radcliffe – R&D Practice Lead, Capgemini Invent Angela is a brand transformer and clinical trials expert who has been innovating in healthcare for two decades. She has worked on >100 global clinical trials across most major therapeutic areas, with experience in health tech, digital transformation, and marketing communications.  


Eliza Silvester – Principal, Life Sciences Eliza’s specialties include: life sciences regulatory risk and program management work; digital innovation; AI; business process reengineering; large scale program management; organizational design; development of operations models. Recently she has been leading efforts at major pharmaceutical clients to help develop and implement innovative ways to engage customers while minimizing compliance risk