The pharmaceutical industry will lose patient trust within 10 years unless it learns to adapt to changes in the way healthcare will be created, delivered and managed. That is just one of the many predictions from a new investigation of the healthcare market undertaken by BT.

In a white paper, ‘Pharma Futurology: Joined Up Healthcare, 2016 and beyond’, BT’s pharmaceutical division brings its expertise in connecting people and businesses to create a big-picture outlook for the industry. The research reveals expected technology inspired changes that threaten pharmaceutical companies with isolation from an increasingly patient-centric healthcare communinity.
In the study, BT predicts by 2016 healthcare will become a commodity in the way that energy is today. Technology will provide a joined up patient service to meet individual health requirements and demands on a daily basis. Knowledge transfers of electronic record systems between hospitals, clinics and GPs are already speeding up treatment times.
Patients can expect an on-demand healthcare service as new technologies allow them to interact when it suits them. New developments like tele-health will provide virtual consultations that eliminate all but essential visits to hospitals and clinics.
BT urges the pharmaceutical industry to adapt and build closer links with patients. The industry communicates more with lawyers, lobbyists and doctors than increasingly aware patients who will expect to be consulted on new drugs and treatments.
Laurie Bowen, MD: commercial and brands at BT Global Services, says: “Pharmas must create a direct dialogue with consumers if they want to become part of the new, joined-up healthcare network. As technology facilitates an increasingly close relationship between doctor and patients, pharmas need to reposition themselves.”
BT’s investigation outlines how technological advances will boost patient treatment, monitoring and maintaining. For example, drug design and development processes change beyond recognition as rapid virtual modeling replaces expensive and laborious lab work. Such moves could increase patient trust as treatment reaches patients faster and at lower cost.
BT expects intelligent microchips and nanotechnologies to increase pharmaceutical compliance regimes with sub-dermal implants removing patient error with medication and microchips determining the precise level and timing of drug release for each individual patient.
Bowen continues: “In 10 years we could see nanotechnologies being sprayed or tattooed on to the skin to monitor health and alert practitioners to problems at an early stage. Ultimately these technologies will be used to prevent illness, not to cure it, as healthcare becomes proactive not reactive.”
BT’s white paper also explores how ongoing globalisation will change the industry. Already emerging operations in China and India are producing cheaper, generic versions of drugs to challenge Western dominance. Collaboration with shared knowledge and expertise, as opposed to commercial warfare, will be to patient benefit.
Bowen concludes: “In 2016 there will be closer, stronger links among all players in the healthcare network. Pharmas must start the ball rolling now by embracing the changes and opportunities we are predicting. To do nothing is to run the risk of becoming mute within the highly networked and converged world of communication.”