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Healthcare trends 2020 – the biggest shifts changing lives and life sciences

By Julie Adrian

Julie Adrian

There’s a saying among journalists that twice is a coincidence, and three times is a trend. But what if you hear the same novel idea 10, 20 or 40 times from around the world? It’s probably safe to say that it’s not just a trend – it’s a crucial one.

We interviewed hundreds of people who work on the frontlines of healthcare to understand what kind of industry shifts and market changes they’re seeing in their geographies and therapeutic areas of focus, in order to identify the biggest trends set to change our world in 2020.

From there, we were able to focus in on the 15 trends most frequently reported to show you where to focus in the year – or years – ahead.

This is the 10th year that we’ve published reports on the trends that are impacting our industry. It’s exciting to create this one at the change of a decade. So many of the micro shifts that we’ve seen nudging healthcare to change are coming to maturity, genuinely revolutionising the way we live and work.

Trends are critical to our organisation, because they show us where to innovate. We define innovation as the relentless pursuit of better ways – better ways to change relationships, services and the kinds of experiences we create for all our stakeholders. Trends push us. They make us constantly reconsider and recommit, make us do things in bold new ways.

So, what’s urgent for 2020? Big picture, our critical stakeholders are under more pressure than ever at a moment when distrust of those best positioned to help is at an all-time high. Doctors across specialties are battling depression and burn-out as they continue to watch their roles and spheres of influence wholly shift.

Patients and advocates face new expectations for consumerism, but few new resources – and certainly no more time – to master them. They’re living longer lives and having bigger, more important conversations about mental health than ever before, but are also immersed in an era of pessimism and worry about nearly every institution we once believed in.

Radical changes in the interface of health are rapidly changing where people find care and how they learn about the possibilities of clinical research. Healthcare professionals are increasingly found in stores or on tiny screens. Their advice? Today, it’s often moderated through artificial intelligence or through smart devices. In some regions, medicine even comes in what looks like a vending machine.

In Clinical Development, the focus is moving more and more into the real world, from how people participate in early stage research to how we cascade decades of decision-driving data and analysis.

New tools and technologies are bringing clinical reporting home or to a third place that looks dramatically different from a major academic center. That’s putting new pressure on life sciences innovators to design trial interfaces that are more personal for people and more real time for sites and investigators.

In Commercial, the conversation about value has reached a fever pitch. Organisations are contingency planning for the pivotal 2021 US election and, more importantly, they’re getting more sophisticated from day to day about how to engage payers and hospital systems around everything from population data to increasingly aggressive tendering.

Across our industry, we’re taking huge strides to create more impact for patients, systems and our own organisations. A big phrase for 2020 is endpoints and experiences that matter to patients. From trial design to open engagement platforms, life sciences leaders are bringing patients to the forefront of conversations, from clinical recruitment to trial design to everyday tools for health and treatment success.

We’re also raising the bar on what to expect from people and treatments. Digital treatments are taking huge steps forward in both stand-alone and adjunct care, driving new regulations, protocols and formularies.

Healthcare organisations of all sizes are leaning in to understand and act on the social determinants of health. And, importantly, our industry is taking on one of our biggest disease adversaries – cancer – in ways we have never seen before.

From novel treatments to inoculating vaccines to super-targeting biomarkers, we are leading the fight of our times. The linchpin of change: innovation in communications. When change is happening at this pace, the major facilitator of its success is communication.

How easy can we make it for payers and systems to see value? For doctors and providers to see innovation? For patients and carers to see hope? Healthcare leaders are actively leveraging omnichannel communications and behavioural science insight to speed the impact of news and connect with people at just the right moment and in a way that will be the most meaningful to them.

Visit trends.health to download your copy of Healthcare Trends 2020 from Syneos Health.


Julie Adrian is President, Europe Communications, Syneos Health

In association with

Syneos Health

10th December 2019

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