Bench International

The Fusing of Digital Healthcare Technology with Life Sciences

The Fusing of Digital Healthcare Technology with Life Sciences

Chris Giffin
Chief Operating Officer
Bench International

Technology is revolutionizing every aspect of life sciences from drug discovery to healthcare delivery. Artificial intelligence in drug discovery is slashing timeframes and yielding cost savings of up to 60% in some laboratories, according to Digital Authority Partners. Innovations in instrumentation and robotics are automating experiments – making them faster, cheaper and more reproducible. In the clinic, sensors and wearable technologies are transforming trials through remote data collection and patient monitoring. Additionally, blockchain, 3D printing, and natural language processing are a few more technologies changing and accelerating life science advancement.

As a life science executive, you probably know that keeping up with digital transformation can feel overwhelming. To remain competitive, you must decide which emerging technologies to leverage, ensure your team and Board are committed to change, embrace the benefits of technology and invest accordingly. These innovations require new knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs), an evolving workforce and adaptive recruitment firms. Traditional scientists must develop new skills and be open to new ways of working and digital technology-focused employees with different approaches will need to be identified and integrated into the organization.

Agility for the Times
Adapting to the digital era requires a shift towards flexibility and risk-taking. It means letting go of outdated business processes and trusting that disruption will ultimately yield big results. AI is a prime example of how technology is radically changing the life sciences landscape. In a recent IDTechEx report, top pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are using machine learning algorithms to expand pipelines and shorten drug development. In fact, recent findings show that AI can slash early R&D timelines by four years against the industry average with commensurate savings.

Across the life sciences from pharmaceuticals to diagnostics and medical devices, AI is revolutionizing product development, helping to integrate areas like drug development, medical imaging and genomics. AI is also helping to fuel the revolution in precision medicine, increasingly allowing cancer patients to avoid cookie-cutter treatments with high failure rates. Because of AI’s sophisticated pattern recognition, these patients are beginning to have access to personalized therapies tailored to the genetic profile of their specific tumor.

Evolving Competencies in the C-Suite
As life science organizations are leaning into new technology-focused strategies, many companies have elevated the digital agenda to the C-suite and formed an ambitious vision around it. From a personnel standpoint, you first must be cognizant of the inherent differences in the life sciences and technology cultures. Many of these tech-focused execs and managers are coming from more consumer-oriented industries with a very different go-to-market timeline. That can create challenges for an individual entering the highly regulated, risk averse life sciences industry. Change happens slower and for a successful fit, the individual needs to understand and be able to work within that paradigm.

Certain roles will evolve, and new roles will be added to the C-suite. For example, we have seen a dramatic change in the CIO role, and it will continue to change, perhaps transitioning to two roles where one is the traditional CIO, and one more focused on data integration and new technologies supporting discovery and clinical sciences. We will also see the addition of new roles, such as chief digital officer.

Addressing a Significant Market Need

Bench International is actively expanding to provide a focus on the intersection of the digital world and life sciences. The practice is focused on technology-oriented leadership roles, up to and including CIOs, as well as on the traditional functional roles (R&D, manufacturing, commercial, etc.).

Over the past several years Bench has conducted projects on behalf of clients that are applying digital and computational strategies as part of their business models. These have ranged from the more obvious connections in bioinformatics and biostatistics but, now with a new incursion into machine learning and artificial intelligence. This digital overlap is rapidly expanding and will ultimately touch on all aspects of drug, diagnostic, and medical device development as well as the broader healthcare sector.

However, the language of the digital tech sector is unique and much of the talent, even at senior levels, is still coming from outside the life sciences industry. Our new Digitization of Healthcare Technology practice will flex and pivot to make sure that we can match the same level of industry insight and depth of sector knowledge required, that has always made Bench a leader in life sciences executive recruitment.

An ‘A’ Team of Advisors
Bench has assembled a remarkable group of thought leaders representing life sciences, healthcare, digital technology and entrepreneurship to complement its executive search team. The role of the Advisory Board will be critical in the creation and sustainment of this practice area. We will be looking to them to identify the current industry sector trends and functional areas where technology leadership is most in demand, both today and into the future.

The Advisory Board will not only keep us updated but will be providing us with content on these subjects that we will share across our media platforms for the benefit of our clients, candidates, and others who actively follow us.

The Bench International Tech Team (BITT) – a combination of our digital healthcare thought leaders and seasoned life sciences recruitment executives – will identify trends and offer counsel to life sciences companies on how to build a next-generation C-suite and board to excel and add value in this burgeoning field.

Predictions for the Future
Every aspect of pharmaceutical, diagnostic, and medical device development is being impacted by digitization and the same is true in healthcare writ large. We don’t see this changing and, if anything, it will continue to expand. As a result, we believe that this new practice will quickly become a cornerstone for Bench over the next five to ten years and beyond. Outside our own enthusiasm, it is noteworthy to state that the value add will ultimately be for the benefit of patients and, that’s a perspective and commitment that our 45+ year history in life sciences recruitment will always retain front and center.