Industry Markets and Trends

Forewarned, Forearmed: U.S. Life Science Top 10 Market Trends Preview for 2020

Uncover the firsthand the truth behind emerging industry while planning for future growth.
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In what used to be the IDC Life Science Insights team (now part of the broader IDC Health Insights team), we have brought together seasoned industry professionals who are charged with researching and reporting how technology and innovation is driving organizational strategies within the life science industry. 

Alan brings more than 35 years of life science industry experience, having brought 30 products to market, including many first-in-class offerings. Michael brings more than 20 years of engineering and operational management at several top companies, including leading the Dover Instrument Company as CEO. Our combined skills allow us to cover the entire life science value chain, providing our clients with comprehensive coverage of ongoing trends and key insights that help them to make better operational and strategic decisions.

An Industry in Transition

The loss of historical blockbuster revenues (aka the patent cliff) more than 5 years ago forced the life science industry to tighten its purse strings and begin to pursue a more efficient strategy of improved operational efficiency and effectiveness. Excess capacity was eliminated and ROI was imposed as a key metric for justifying and continuing program efforts. At the same time, relevant technological advances and scientific discoveries (including the achievement of the $1000 genome) continued to contribute new capabilities, data, and insights that had the potential to transform existing best practices and accelerate the development of new treatments and cures.

On the commercial side, the move towards operational efficiency and effectiveness also empowered the industry to begin to look to cross-industry best practices to leverage what has been done in other areas and accelerate the adoption and implementation of manufacturing and sales & marketing best practices within the life sciences. 

As mentioned previously, the IDC Life Science Insights group merged with the IDC Health Industry Insights group to form the IDC Health Insights group. This merger foreshadowed the current blurring of the lines between the life science and health industries, along with the emergence and growth of precision medicine, taking into account patient-specific data to improve individual patient outcomes. 

This increased focus on the patient has moved to the forefront (at least in hype), with potential impacts across the entire value chain. Access to de-identified patient electronic medical records is providing life science companies with new insights into individual patient variations, allowing companies to better understand which patients are likely to respond positively (or negatively) to a new drug in development. 

In combination with social communications more commonly seen in consumer engagement, it is now possible to improve patient medication adherence, both on the R&D and in the commercial world. Patients’ failures to take their drugs is a major cause of treatment failure and the fact that a smartphone could remind them to take their meds has a direct relationship to improvement in population health.

Being part of IDC, which regularly tracks trends in IT, means we also include leading IT trends which significantly impact the life science industry. Digital transformation, AI, IoT, sensors, and smartphone technology advances are captured in our monitoring of ongoing key trends in the industry. 

Following and Tracking Trends in the Industry from a Unique Vantage Point

In our role as analysts covering technology and innovation in the life science industry, we get to view firsthand the truth behind the hype based on direct discussions with industry leadership across the technical and geographical spectrum. This places us in a unique position to identify important industry trends and talk about it. Our predictions/trends report go back more than 10 years to 2009 and provide food for thought for industry sponsors and vendors to consider as they plan for future growth.

In identifying our top 10 trends, we pick 2-3 that span both life science R&D and commercial areas, and then split up the remaining trends to separate discussions focused on our own respective areas. While we endeavor to not repeat trends highlighted in prior years (despite the relatively long half life for trends), related topics (e.g. patient engagement versus IoT) are allowed and especially in those cases where the topic is hot.


Research Director, Life Sciences