I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of an industry that literally saves lives and improves the quality of life for people. No other industry can make the same claim as life sciences and healthcare. And logistics is the cardiovascular system that keeps the life sciences sector healthy and growing.
It is also an exciting industry to work with because it is in the midst of massive change globally. Life sciences and healthcare is at the nexus of globalization. Emerging markets have become the center of growth for the industry, where rising incomes and receding poverty levels mean that more people can afford the healthcare and medicines that they need. And we see pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers in these countries becoming more competitive globally and innovative, too.
This sector is also at the forefront of some of the most amazing innovations in technology and science, with biotechnology promising great improvements in treatments. I would argue that, just as these breakthroughs are completely transforming the world of healthcare, so too are we transforming the way logistics is handled in life sciences and healthcare.
Logistics has always played a central role in the sector. However, the changes life sciences is facing today – globalization, cost constraints, competitive pressures, and faster pace of innovation – mean that logistics is becoming that much more vital. This is because we are seeing supply chains being extended further around the globe, to new markets like China and India. At the same, cost pressures mean that companies are looking for smarter set-ups, such as differentiated supply chains between high-value biologics and commodity generics. And, as regulations become more stringent in markets around the world, and innovative new treatments increasingly require cold chain solutions, we are seeing temperature management becoming more critical than ever.
We are witness to a new era of innovation in the life sciences and healthcare sector, including advances in biopharmaceuticals and related fields. Sequencing the human genome has become an affordable option. Genetic testing is likely to become mainstream medical practice in a few years, opening the way for personalized medicine tailored to individual traits. We’ll see more treatment options thanks to progress made in understanding the human micro-biome, too.
Vaccines will become more targeted and more effective for a much wider range of diseases. And, regenerative medicine, including the replacement or repair of human cells, tissues or organs, is also likely to be a future growth field, especially thanks to 3D printing capabilities.
Progress in all sorts of new technologies will have significant ramifications for the future of healthcare. This includes such things as augmented reality applications in medicine and remote medical diagnostics. And, thanks to advances in nano-technology, more materials and coatings will be available that enable fully biocompatible implants in the human body to track health conditions.
At the cutting edge
Customers tell me that all of the changes and new innovations just mentioned will mean a transformation in manufacturing and distribution processes for their industry over the coming years. These, in turn, will call for advances in life sciences logistics solutions, which is what my colleagues and I have to be prepared for. In future, the life sciences supply chain is going to have to be more flexible and efficient. And, we’re going to have to keep innovating in this space, like coming up with specialized cold chain solutions.
It is clear that innovative logistics solutions are becoming essential to realizing the full potential of the future of life sciences and healthcare. In my view, it will only be by developing the ability to adapt their supply chains and working with specialized logistics partners at the cutting edge of their discipline, that companies in the life sciences sector will stay ahead of the curve when it comes to seizing the opportunities ahead.
Be sure to have a look at www.dhl.com/LSHC-Week for all of the fascinating information and discussion on the health and future of the life sciences industry.
How do you see the role of logistics in the future of the life sciences and healthcare industry? Will it be a driver of transformation or simply a package delivery service? Let me know your thoughts.