Coming off the week spent in San Francisco for J.P. Morgan’s annual healthcare conference immediately after closing out 2019, I’m digesting a lot of informal data that’s come out of a slew of conversations with clients, partners, founders, friends, providers, investors and anyone else who’s been willing to talk shop and healthcare trends with me.
Assessing The Mood of the Healthcare Industry
My sophisticated, comprehensive analysis of the data (sense the sarcasm) is that the mood is – wait for it – “pretty good.”
It’s a challenging analysis, as I talk to a lot of folks who are, like myself, eternal optimists. Like one of my buddies last week (a Life Sciences P.R. pro), when I asked him how he feels about some of the political headwinds facing the industry around drug pricing and further scrutiny/regulation, responded with the utmost enthusiasm telling me that, “it will mean that all the more drugs will need to be created and approved.”
I love that sentiment. Perhaps, like in any other industry, more pressure on prices means more competition and more innovators coming onto the scene to steal market share from big industry (pharma.) But browse a few news headlines regarding life sciences sentiment, and you’ll see that there’s a lot of concern that investors will pull back if the government threatens their ROI via crippling price (and other) regulation.
And if you spent just 5 minutes in Union Square last week, you’d never underestimate the power the investment community possesses in the world of drug development. (remember, it takes on average 10+ years and $3 billion to develop a drug.) So to me, this is the biggest unknown heading into 2020.
But aside from the political issues affecting drug development, there are so many positives coming out of the Health industry on a whole. Again, my observations here aren’t only a result of the J.P. Morgan event – but my stream of consciousness coming from a huge variety of information absorption.
Healthcare Trends To Follow In 2020
Here are my observations on the 2020 Healthcare Industry trends:
Healthcare A.I. Is Already Front and Center
From diagnostics, to clinical trials, to EHRs, practice management and digital health. From a marketing standpoint, figure out a way to get “A.I.” into your message, somehow.
There’s increased interest and enthusiasm in CRISPR. Despite the risks of unintended consequences, there’s huge potential to positively affect thousands of lives and treat (or cure) many diseases.
Digital Health will continue to grow as a leading category and attractor of investment, but the definition of specifically which products and services fall within the category remains fuzzy.
The Tech sector is hot.
- Predictive Analytics
- Artificial Intelligence
- IoMT (Internet of Medical Things)
- Continued push for EHR interoperability
- and more
2020 will be another strong year for tech investment.
Patients will, more than ever, play an increasing role in their own healthcare decisions by shopping for solutions/providers and comparing prices.
Wearable Healthcare Devices
Wearables will have their biggest year ever as they make the significant shift from fitness-trackers to health-management tools. It will be interesting to see what Google does with their Fitbit acquisition to compete with Apple.
Focus On NASH
NASH (Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis) prevalence is expected to increase by 63% between 2015 and 2030 and is expected to become the leading cause of liver transplantation in the U.S. between 2020-2025. It should be no surprise that investment into this area will show a significant increase.
Opioid Crisis Continues
The Opioid Crisis will continue to garner much-needed attention, from further litigation against the complicit pharma companies, to many biopharma companies developing opioid-alternatives to pain and others focused on treating addiction.
Renewed Attention To Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse disorder will also gain attention, considering the growing concern over liver disease and other alcohol-related health conditions especially among younger populations.
More Light Brought To Mental Health
Mental Health will continue to gain much-deserved attention, be less stigmatized, and move to the forefront of healthcare. Prevalence of Telehealth systems will allow for easier access to mental health care and treatment, not only especially in underserved rural areas, but among all demographics.
Life Sciences Tech
Big Tech will increase their investment into Healthcare and Pharma knowing the enormous potential for improvement. Amazon, Google and Apple all made big strides in the industry in 2019 and momentum will only accelerate moving forward.
Clinical Trial Advancement
We’ll see big advances in Clinical Trials, as companies step up their recruitment, engagement, adherence and retention strategies. CROs will have a strong year as A.I. and other tactics come into play to improve and accelerate the drug development process.
More Momentum For Transparency
Transparency on a whole will continue to gain momentum. From pricing, to patients shopping their options in all aspects (providers, facilities, drugs, etc.), ultimately creating a more “shoppable” overall experience across the healthcare continuum.
Providers Offering Value-Based Care
Value-based care will grow among providers, including increased use of A.I. not only for earlier diagnoses of diseases, but also for practice management, forecasting, appointment management, etc.
Continued Big Retailer Buy In
Big retailers like CVS, Walmart and Best Buy will continue to significantly grow their investments into “retailizing” the industry.
Precision Medicine will see continued significant attention, matching patients up with precisely-targeted treatments/medicine for their genetic makeup.
Cancer Innovations Expand
Innovations in cancer (both on the diagnostic and treatment side), as always, will continue to make strides, including increased use of liquid biopsies and increased investment into CAR-T
The Value of At-Home Care vs. Hospitalization Costs
There will be an ongoing push to provide more at-home care to reduce costs as compared to hospitalization.
Other Healthcare Areas To Keep An Eye On In 2020
Other trending areas of focus:
- Prostate Cancer
- Breast Cancer Diagnostics
- Brain Tumors Research and Treatment
Future Healthcare Trends In 2020 and Beyond
There’s certainly no shortage of problems to solve or lives to impact. I stand by my assertion that we’ll see more progress in the next 10 years than we’ve seen in the past 50.
As far as the mood of the healthcare industry, I’m going to go with “cautiously optimistic” with a lot of eyes on the election, but just as many on continuing to save, extend and improve lives. And how fortunate we are to be living in an era of such innovation and technology to help solve so many of the challenges the industry faces.