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In winter we like to measure everything – snow, temperature, days until spring. While weather may be unpredictable, and consecutive days at -20 Celsius make us question global warming, there are a few measures that are more predictable in reflecting change.

We looked at these measures to help us understand the evolving landscape for Medical Affairs. Here’s what we found:

  1. Rising Healthcare Cost: Healthcare as a share of GDP is at 9.3% globally and 17% in the US. These figures have risen 21% and 29%, respectively, over the last 12 years. With such a tremendous portion of our global GDP going to healthcare costs, governments and public/private insurers are increasingly more involved in managing the costs. Medical Affairs, similarly has an opportunity to help shape how physicians and patients access quality medical information in this complex legislative and coverage-driven environment. In addition, patients are seeking information more proactively through new channels which ties into some of our other findings around emerging markets and technology.
  2. Population Growth in Emerging Markets: The global population is expected to grow 10% by 2025 and 25% by 2050 – that’s an additional 2.4 Billion potential customers seeking medical information. This growth is overwhelmingly in emerging markets and specific population segments such as the elderly or very young. Meeting this increased demand will require Medical Affairs to bridge information on quality specialty care in complex regulatory climates. This can be achieved through a mix of educational channels, global/regional/local models for scientific liaisons, and continued excellence in the creation of authoritative medical and scientific content.
  3. Advances in Technology: Despite spending 25 years in technology, my teenage daughter has better online navigation skills than I do, and a speed of adoption that rivals the population growth rate in Trend 2. Statistics show that both consumers and physicians are using technology to find health or medical information and connect with peers for consultation. Coupled with time pressures for the average physician to see 20+ patients per day (due to rising costs and revenue based incentives), the environment is rich for new technology to self-serve this tech savvy community with approved medical content on their own terms.
  4. Changing Product Landscapes: Forty-one new drugs (37% biologics) were approved in 2014. A 78% percent increase in spend on specialty care is predicted between 2012 and 2020. There is no doubt that the product landscape is changing and creating new demands for medical information to tackle the complex science of biologics, specialty drugs, and devices. Education will need to keep pace with this demand and leverage qualified resources to inform healthcare providers on new treatment regimens, emerging study data, on & off label indications, and expected outcomes.
  5. Regulatory Pressures Re-enforcing the Role of Medical Affairs: Medical Affairs has always been the keeper of quality medical education and information. In the changing landscape based on rising healthcare costs, increased stakeholder demand/expectations, technology enabled access to (unfortunately, sometimes inaccurate) information, and fast track drug and device approvals, regulatory scrutiny ensures separation between promotional and medical activities. This is often enforced by billions in financial penalties against manufacturers (>$7.5B since 2009 in the US alone). Medical Affairs has an opportunity to take an even greater role in creating regulatory awareness and being the trusted partner to maintain vigilance and compliance around quality medical information.

While statistics can be found to support almost any side of a debate, we feel the data around these 5 trends reflects predictable challenges and opportunities in the delivery of medical information through 2020. As the demand and landscape evolves, Medical Affairs will be the trusted partner organization to guide healthcare professionals and consumers seeking to make informed science-based decisions regarding their health concerns.

For an illustrative look at the trends, check out the infographic:


MI Infographic Small preview3


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