This blog discusses latest trends and the role technology plays in the life sciences industry. It focuses on Infosys life sciences services and solutions and how they can help accelerate business.

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January 29, 2020

Road Ahead for Life Sciences in 2020

"The more things change, the more they remain the same"

2020 arrives, and with it arrives the usual array of trends and forecasts for change. However, these changes bring opportunities with them. In a departure to 2019, this newsletter focuses on enduring principles, to help master the transformation inherent in the mission of re-imagining medicine.

Patient Purpose Drives Patient Centricity:

The journey to re-imagining medicine through innovative science and technology is complete only when patients are co-pilots. Patient-centricity needs to evolve from being about outcomes and KPIs to embracing patient-purpose. The language of outcomes and KPIs sees patients as respondents to therapies, while the very idea of patient purpose embraces the whole life view beyond illness.

Harnessing of data through sophisticated technology and the ability to drill down to insights to inform decision making is at the heart of digital transformation. Insights brought to life through real stories of patients, and in this socially connected digital age, the voices across personal ecosystems of support, are going to be the fuel for innovation. Whether it is the story of a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer's, or the story of a colleague battling migraine, the purpose for a fulfilling life beyond the condition is the starting point for understanding patients.

Imaging is at the frontlines of technological disruption, thanks to AI, machine learning and transition to the cloud. Patient-purpose based innovation approaches are transforming pediatric imaging, with the formidable MRI machines adopting a more playful design, crafted to put young patients at ease. Easing the fraught experience through a patient purpose lens has led to improvements leading to faster imaging, resulting in measurable business benefit of greater throughput.    

Mapping these stories, laying them with data and understanding, transforming these nuggets of wisdom into action agendas is what is best done at one of the globally distributed innovation centers. From the Complexity Labs created in association with the Rhode Island School of Design, to the Innovation Center at Dusseldorf, to the portable process of Living Labs, these are grounds fertile to chart the future of medicine.

Applied Learning Accelerates Transformation:

The ability to "learn, unlearn and relearn," to paraphrase Alvin Toffler, is what powers the knowledge economy. Digital tools in everyday life are built to promote contextual learning, examples abound from search to navigation to YouTube to GitHub. Learning while doing is perhaps the way of the UNBOSS. As one acquires knowledge, and applies it quickly, one gains in confidence, taking on greater responsibility while being accountable.

Learning and education are, understandably, about content. From self-paced programs on platforms like Coursera to MOOCs, to bite sized videos that impart focused instruction, learning to learn has seldom been easier. Now, immersive digital technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) are gathering momentum as platforms to transform learning experiences. 

Applications span the spectrum; from patient-centric ones like post-stroke rehabilitation using VR, to training of frontline medical staff in hospitals, onboarding new colleagues, and even, the trust fall so beloved of outdoor training. Remote consultations are already here. Indeed, after years of being the next new things, immersive technologies in learning are becoming mainstream.

Fluidity of talent, new opportunities to create and share content that empowers colleagues are drivers of immersive reality in learning. It is time to play with development toolkits to build one's own immersive learning. One of these is Lex, a platform developed for colleagues at Infosys, which allows one to share one's own expertise, learn from others and of course access the cornucopia of knowledge available digitally. 

Restoring humanity in medicine through technology

"No matter how much technology there is, when you're ill, you're still going to have to find someone you can trust." While "AI will replace humans" is a powerful headline, for the practice of medicine, to paraphrase Dr. Eric Topol, "humans will be augmented by AI".  

Google's DeepMind has now produced results from breast cancer screening which have reduced both false positives and false negatives. Interestingly, while DeepMind outperformed all the experienced radiologists, there were cases where humans detected disease missed by AI. Artificial Intelligence & its cousin, Machine Learning have been the subject of countless research, hype, over-promises and under delivery. The theoretical potential of AI/ML as well as the gap in implementation is now showing signs of narrowing. What seems to have worked in this experiment? As technologists who work with pharma, we believe it is rigour with which data were collected, tagged, annotated, matched with results, then played back to radiologists. Retrospective analysis provided clear evidence of prowess and has indicated that humans and machines do need each other, for now.

From aircraft design to preventive maintenance, to buying engines which bring products we love to us, AI/ML is rapidly gathering momentum. We are believers in cross-pollination across industries. Perhaps an idea from transportation might ignite a thought to reimagine medicine?


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