Whitepaper: Disruptive technologies


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Determining the impact of future technologies is challenging and no more so than in the medical field. Intense research is leading to numerous potential options to diagnose, manage and treat medical conditions. Whilst these approaches are advancing patient care, new, innovative technologies create a high degree of uncertainty in the market - many organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to predict what might happen and when.

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Whitepaper: Disruptive technologies

  1. 1. Disruptive technologies -threat or opportunity?A disease-centric view for the global medical sectorSusan Watson
  2. 2. Disruptive technologies - threat or opportunity?Executive summaryDetermining the impact of futuretechnologies is challenging and no the care pathway. For example, it couldmore so than in the medical field. be a new therapeutic, a drug deliveryIntense research is leading to method, an early diagnostic or a radicalnumerous potential options to new surgical procedure. These changes have the potential to significantly impactdiagnose, manage and treat medical the revenue streams of businessesconditions. Whilst these operating in those markets. The challengeapproaches are advancing patient is the complexity of human disease andcare, new, innovative technologies the multiple ways in which to tackle it, ascreate a high degree of uncertainty well as understanding which will be thein the market - many organisations winning approaches.are finding it increasingly difficult topredict what might happen and But how can an organisation make sensewhen. of all the potential medical technology changes over the next 10 years, in orderNew technology which radically changes to embrace the right technology for itsthe way things have been done in the past future growth whilst avoiding disruption?is commonly referred to as ‘disruptivetechnology’. Whilst disruption hasnegative connotations, if understood andevaluated early on, such innovations canalso provide tremendous breakthroughopportunities to invest in paradigm shiftingtechnology, to drive growth and theestablishment a powerful future position.Disruptive technology is usually defined asthat which is significantly cheaper thancurrent and/or is much higher performingand/or has greater functionality and/or ismore convenient to use. In the medicalcontext we are talking about technologiesthat can significantly impact themanagement of a disease such that new‘standards of care’ are introduced along 1 © Sagentia 2011
  3. 3. Disruptive technologies - threat or opportunity?Making sense of disruptivetechnologiesIn Sagentia’s experience, medical opportunities, a proactive rather thancompanies typically have a narrow view of reactive approachthe market in which they operate, that is,focused on products and how it improve Understanding the potential effect futurethem, rather than understanding how technologies may have on a disease iswider changes to disease management complex. It requires meticulous, detailedmay impact on how, where and if certain research by highly skilled people toproducts will be used in the future. investigate and uncover emerging technologies, put into context how theyTo successfully protect against or exploit might affect a disease, determine thepotential disruptors in the medical industry likelihood of impact and whether they arecompanies must take a disease-centric sustainable in the long term.view to be aware of and fully understandthe effect of emerging technologies acrossthe entire care pathway of a disease. The disease-centric viewTechnologies can then be put into contextand further analysed to determine the To make sense of emerging technologiesimpact timescale and consequences they and evaluate their potential future impactmay have on a business. on the medical industry, Sagentia typically uses a care pathway analysis approach toBy looking at how a disease is managed ensure that the disease is central to theoverall, rather than focusing on products process. This process seeks to identifyalone, greater clarity of all the technology how emerging technologies could changeopportunities and threats that may be the way in which diseases will befaced in the future can be achieved. This managed in the future, typically, taking aapproach is not about how to make an five to fifteen year view. This in turnexisting surgical tool function better, for enables a comprehensive picture ofexample, but understanding how a new opportunities and threats to be built, thattechnology approach may even totally simply would not have been possible byobviate the need for a certain surgical focusing on products alone.procedure in the future. We start the process by building a comprehensive understanding of theFor example, Company A developing a disease and how it is currently managed.new early diagnostic technique for cancer This maps current standards of care andcould impact Company B making surgical considers aspects such as risk factors,devices, but how? If the cancer is caught methods of prevention, screening,earlier it may only require minimally management and treatment.invasive surgery which may affect demandfor certain surgical instrumentation. “It is extremely important to considerCompany C developing a cancer drug all the component technologiesmay further may further erode demand for required to bring about a new scenariosurgical devices from Company B if the in order to judge the timescale ofneed for surgery is further reduced by impact.”early diagnosis making a drug therapy amore appropriate treatment. Further analysis is then carried out on the care pathway to identify areas ofTherefore companies need to evaluate all weakness, inadequacies or processes thatsources of potential impact on the various could be done better. This could include,stages of disease, and then use this for example, drug side effects, invasiveintelligence to make an informed decision surgery or long periods of post-surgicalas to whether to continue with current therapy.strategies or investigate new 2 © Sagentia 2011
  4. 4. Disruptive technologies - threat or opportunity?This enables us to identify trigger points technology) that are critical to the overallwhere new technology could potentially be solution.introduced that would disrupt current waysof doing things. This may be a threat or It is extremely important to consider all theprovide a business opportunity. component technologies required to bring about a new scenario in order to judge theThe next stage is a process we refer to as timescale of impact. For example, antechnology scouting. This is a very broad excellent new drug therapy may require asearch to identify emerging technologies delivery device to enable its wide spreadthat could impact the disease to overcome clinical adoption; therefore commercialthe identified trigger points. success hinges on the development of the delivery device even though the drug hasIt is important that this stage is carried out proven clinical efficacy. If the drugby a team with an in-depth understanding delivery device requires a further 5 yearsboth of the disease and of the emerging of development the new standard of caretechnologies. New technologies need to using the drug / device combination willbe considered in the context of the only be realised once the device isdisease. developed. The device ‘unlocks’ the scenario.From the technologies gathered and thetrigger points identified, scenarios ofpossible future outcomes are developed. The final stage of the process is to bringThe objective here is to create scenarios all the technology-enabled scenariosthat depict ways in which the care together to create a future clinicalpathway could be improved by each landscape for the disease of interest andemerging technology. plot how this could change over time. By doing this it is possible to determine theThese scenarios can then be analysed in order in which change is expected tothe context of the business. We ask key occur within the care pathway of thequestions such as: If scenario X disease. It is also possible to assess thehappened what would be the impact on impact of different emerging technologiesthe business? What products would not on each other to understand those that arebe sold anymore, what would the loss in likely to be sustainable and those whichsales revenue be? Is there a potential will be superseded.upside to our business? From this we canbuild a complete understanding of the total This type of approach is of particularimpact an emerging technology can have importance when considering investmenton a certain business situation. in a new business area. The first change to occur will not necessarily have the mostThe timescale of potential business impact commercial impact or be sustainable inthen needs to be ascertained by the long term. This can be a valuableexamining the development status of approach to determine if existingtechnologies required to fulfil the relevant investments in a portfolio are wisely castfuture scenarios. In many cases or if R&D spend is appropriate.scenarios can have missing pieces oftechnology (we refer to these as unlocking 3 © Sagentia 2011
  5. 5. Disruptive technologies - threat or opportunity?ConclusionDisease-centric analysis can lead to a Sagentia has found that this approachclear picture of all relevant technology- enables a broad and un-blinkered view ofdriven changes that could occur for a the future impact of technology on adisease, where they reside in the care disease to be gained and represents apathway and the timescale within which powerful springboard from which long-the change is likely to occur. Whilst term strategic decisions can be made.disruption can come from many directions,Susan Watson is an Associate at Sagentia. For more information please contactdisruptivetechnologies@sagentia.com or call +44 1223 875200 or visit our websitewww.sagentia.com 4 © Sagentia 2011
  6. 6. SagentiaSagentia is a global innovation, technology and product developmentcompany. We provide outsourced R&D consultancy services to startups through to global market leaders in the medical, industrial andconsumer sectors.With global headquarters in Cambridge, UK, and US headquartersin Cambridge, Massachusetts, Sagentia works with clients from frontend market needs analysis through to transfer to manufacture.We deliver innovation around new technologies and new generationproducts and services that provide commercial value and marketadvantage. The company also assists business leaders to createstrategies for technology, innovation and growth.www.sagentia.cominfo@sagentia.comSagentia Ltd Sagentia IncHarston Mill One BroadwayHarston 14th FloorCambridge Cambridge, MA 02142CB22 7GG USAUKT. +44 1223 875200 T. +1 617 401 3170