I have focused on business model and product innovation for much of much of my 20 year long career, especially over the past 6 years. I am sharing some of my insights and observations below.

What's behind the Frenzy of Innovation in Life Sciences?
The healthcare industry is changing worldwide.  The key trends contributing to this change stem from evolving behaviors and needs of the key stakeholders: Patient, Providers, Payors as well as emerging technologies:

  • Patients are empowered, educated and tech savvy.  They increasingly demand the same user experience in managing their disease as they receive in other parts of their lives such as banking or consumer electronics.  By the same token, they are starting to do “value shopping” for their healthcare in the face of rising out-of-pocket costs.
  • Physician providers are becoming salaried employees of large institutions with great margin pressure tying them to standardized treatments and workflows.  
  • Payors become more assertive and increasingly focused on outcomes-based, bundled or risk-sharing payment models.   Emerging technologies form the foundation for development of advanced, digitally-enabled value added services.
  • In the meanwhile, more and more drugs are facing patent expiration and needing to compete with biosimilars. While there are minor variations to these trends across various countries, the imperatives are largely global. 
  • At the same time, with massive advances in pharma/biotech drug discovery and development, most major diseases have been addressed.   Novel drugs are increasingly at parity with on-market drugs and 2nd or 3rd to market in their class.

All of these are trends contribute to the push for innovation ampng life sciences companies. They realize that they simply cannot go on as before.

When in the development process should companies start thinking about innovation?
In my observation, innovation efforts are often started far too late in the product development process. Ideally, “out of the box” ideas need to be articulated, thought through, and synthesized with the development of actual products early enough to included in Phase 3 clinical trials.  Claims, labeling and formulary positions could be far stronger if proof-of-concept can be generated during the trials. In other cases, innovative ideas can be launched prior to actual product launches to help seed markets and identify potential users.

Innovation process (an oxymoron?):
Organizations need to identify ways of embedding and integrating innovation processes and governance into or alongside existing processes.  Sometimes, innovation efforts may require a separate path.  Many organizations have created separate innovation arms, allowing standard processes to be “fast tracked” or bypassed.  We are seeing some of that at Amgen, where it is clear that processes set up for the launch of a molecule do not apply to development of a software tool.