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GSK survey shows optimism for the future of biotech innovation – Bio.News

GSK believes that “innovation starts when we stop to listen.”

In 2023, GSK took a moment to engage with a variety of people across the biotech industry about the future of healthcare innovation through a unique data visualization experience. More than 1,800 participants in areas like biotech, biopharma, and academic R&D—as well as government and non-profit professionals, among others—shared their insights about the future of the industry and what people are most excited about as we move forward.

Here are a few things GSK learned.

Innovating health in the next 10 years

When it comes to innovating health in the next decade, the biotech industry is not shying away from changing the landscape of public health as we know it. For all intents and purposes, the sky’s the limit.

GSK’s survey found that half of respondents believed that the greatest progress in health innovation over the next decade will either be the ability to prevent the spread of infectious disease (26%) or curing existing diseases (24%).

Comparatively, only 16% believed innovation would allow us to prevent the onset of new, emerging diseases.

These numbers, when put in the context of the recent COVID pandemic, make sense. The global upswell of funding, collaboration, and information sharing during the pandemic saw some of the most rapid and exciting innovation gains in the healthcare industry amidst the pall of the pandemic. Innovation in diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics in response to COVID was unprecedented, and it is likely that participants (especially those working in the realm of R&D) saw the potential for innovation to control the spread of other infectious diseases in the coming years, while still being realistic about just how much work has to go into the development of drugs and treatment, as well as public health mitigation.

Respondents from the non-profit sectors prioritized improving public health by addressing health inequity systemically. This is likely, GSK observes, a result of the fact that non-profit organizations experienced increased demands for services during the pandemic that highlighted the pervasive health inequity in America.

Considering the fact that many leaders in the biotech industry are encouraging governments and NGOs, both domestic and international, to have a plan for pandemic preparedness, these numbers are heartening as they imply that there is considerable momentum and activation in the industry to help solve these problems before the next pandemic hits.

The role of technology in health’s future

Technology, GSK found, was one of the most hotly debated topics discussed. As we sit at the precipice of unparalleled technological growth and potential, many people in the industry are thinking deeply and critically about how it can best be used to help and not hinder.

Overall, the consensus was clear: Technology will be the biggest disruptor in health over the next 10 years.

Yet there was no clear leader when it came to the what or how of technological development in healthcare. However, the leading topics discussed included advanced technology—e.g., artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning to understand and address disease (with 27% of participants identifying it as a high priority); using technology in clinical trial research (25%); speed and efficiency of R&D (24%); and patient access to personalized medicines (22%).

Regardless of what kind of technology would lead the way, there was one thing that respondents agreed upon, which is that information needs to be shared.

Of those surveyed, 45% believed biopharma should focus on a greater exchange of skills and technology in order to achieve the greatest patient impact, though the method for that exchange differed from group to group. For example, skills and technology exchange was most important for those working in academia (53%), whereas in comparison, participants with a government or policy background were more likely to favor better access to open-source data and technology (51%).

While there are some elements of optimism around technology in healthcare, there is one understandable area of anxiety: the use of AI.

How AI is changing healthcare

AI is a hot topic across the board—and for good reason. For the first time in history, AI is not only becoming mainstream, but also improving at a rate that the general public can see and understand. It is no surprise then that concerns and anxieties around the technology that we see and discuss on a regular basis in our everyday lives would also translate to the healthcare space.

GSK found that a whopping 90% of respondents have concerns about the implementation of AI, with bias/discrimination (30%) and data privacy (27%) being the two most pressing concerns. When it comes to ensuring that health systems continue toward equitability and not away from it, it is heartening that leaders in the healthcare industry are keeping this consideration at the fore before they implement any new technology that risks not treating every patient with the necessary considerations in mind.

Interestingly, there were other aspects of the AI conversation that were less discussed yet equally pertinent. The impact that AI might have on job loss was the least popular AI issue with only 9% of participants citing it as an area of concern. Though, notably, those that were most concerned about this issue were people from non-bio industries and not-for-profit organizations, over-indexing by 6% and 3% respectively. People working in research and development and in government/policy/comms, GSK observes, might have a better understanding of how AI can be utilized in the health sector and so don’t see it as a threat to job security.

However, in government, policy, and communications sectors, data privacy and regulation were found to be more highly significant issues (with over 8% mentioning its importance). This could be because these people often deal with large data sets containing confidential or personal data in their line of work and are aware of the responsibilities.

It is also possible that this issue is more at the forefront in the minds of those working in the government because the number of data privacy legislation and regulation coming down the pike has increased in the last few years, creating new requirements for managing certain data. 

Cause for optimism

There is one element of the survey that is incredibly important to note when thinking about the future of healthcare and that is that health innovation is viewed overwhelmingly positively amongst participants, with 67% being excited about the future.

While there was a higher instance of nervousness among those who were concerned about AI’s role in healthcare in the coming years, as well as increased instances of feeling less driven and more overwhelmed in the non-profit sector, there was still considerable activation amongst participants to keep doing the work.

And the fact that GSK prioritized such conversations is cause for optimism in and of itself. Despite steep challenges in the healthcare industry, different sectors are more willing to talk to each other, with healthcare leaders doing more work to share information, as well as asking for different perspectives as a means of making the industry more robust for future growth.

As long as organizations continue to “stop to listen,” the sky is indeed the limit.

Visit GSK.com for more information