Building Global Brands in Healthcare

October 10, 2017 at Bayer BCT Conference 2017, Café Moskau, Karl-Marx-Allee 34, Berlin, Germany

Through positive wellness and personalised pharma, robotics and genetics, digital applications and patient-centric business models … the future of health is about specialisation and innovation, patient-centric solutions that are faster and more efficient. The fast-changing science is one factor, however far more significant is the convergence of pharma and biotech, insurance and hospitals, physicians and pharmacists … working together to make life better.

Personal, predictive and positive

For just $99 we can see our life before us, with a DNA profile from 23 and Me, and as a result we go to PatientsLikeMe to find out how others have responded. We eat the best foods from GSK, and check our daily fitness with Nike+, maybe with a little help from Avumio’s diagnostic apps and online advice from Dr Koop.

If we need help, we turn to ZocDoc where a local nurse with Epocrates at his fingertips, who prescribes a standard drug from Wuxi, or a custom prescription from Genentech. A night in W Hotel’s clinic, or a surgical trip to Antalya is unlikely. Instead we spray on our L’Oreal skin protection, sip on our super-vitamin Zespri kiwi juice, and smile.

The future of healthcare is personalpredictive and proactive, using advanced diagnostics so that people can themselves understand their likely conditions, and take better actions now to reduce risks or avoid illnesses. In this sense it is about positive wellbeing, rather than caring or curing. However when misfortune does strike, then care is about patients and personalisation, putting people at the heart of the medical process, supported by physicians and pharmaceuticals which are right for individuals.

Today we live in hope that we will stay healthy. Improved diets and active lifestyles intuitively reduce our concerns, but when something does go wrong we put our faith in a system that is largely designed around medical science and operational efficiencies. We wait in line for a hospital bed, for a standard procedure, for a generic drug. And once we get the all clear, we disappear until the next problem. When was the last time when you talked to a doctor whilst feeling good, and staying fit?

The future is different. It sees a convergence of sectors, enabled by an integration of technologies, the personalisation of science, and business models that are more human and commercial.

We recognise that prevention is better, and cheaper, than cure: cholesterol-reducing margarines, UV protection built into cosmetics, anti-statins to every over 50 in order to reduce the risk of heart disease, regular scans for people with family histories, blood pressure monitored daily by your smart watch, fitness parks designed for middle aged retirees, compression socks for long-haul flights. Drug companies make functional foods, sports companies create wellbeing devices, hospitals offer fitness programs, medical centres offer beauty treatments, cosmetics brands help you look good and live better.

From biotechnology to pharmaceuticals, governments to surgeons, sports clinics to supermarket pharmacies, cosmetics to functional foods, mobile technologies and online communities, many different partners and services will come together to keep us alive and well.

Digital and mobile, catalysts of change

Big data for fast and remote diagnostics, wearable sensors for body management, sit alongside more innovative solutions like 3D organ printing and robotic surgery. Advances in technology are allowing for the provision of affordable, decentralised healthcare for the masses and are lowering the barriers to entry in less developed markets.

Of all the advances, mobile technology is the catalyst for change. The phone and tablet enable distribution of a broad range of medical and support services in hospitals, and particularly in countries with little or no healthcare infrastructure and areas in which there are few trained healthcare professionals. These technologies also allow trained professionals to perform quality control remotely.

Amongst the many significant developments is a shift towards one-on-one, in-field diagnostics and monitoring. Services that were once only available at a doctor’s office or hospital are now available on-demand through low-tech, affordable solutions. Personal systems allow for “good enough” diagnostics that would have been difficult, expensive, and timely to attain previously.

Building patient-centric brands

Pharma companies often express their desire to be patient-centric organisations. Whether “inspired by patients, driven by science” (UCB);  “science and patients … the heart of everything we do” (AstraZeneca); or being “a global integrated healthcare leader focused on patients’ needs” (Sanofi), the industry has enthusiastically grasped the idea of patient-centricity. Of course, its how they behave, not just what they say that matters. But an orientation around patients is a good starting point, to thinking and behaving in a more human, relevant and outcomes-driven way.

In simple terms, patient-centricity means placing the patient at the centre of business activity and to consider how decisions about business will affect the patient. This seems far-fetched but there are in fact many aspects of a pharma company’s operation that can be re-imagined to be more aligned with the interest of the patient. They include:

  • Drug Discovery
  • Formulation
  • Drug Delivery Device Development
  • Clinical Trial Design
  • Marketing
  • Communications
  • Sales
  • Supply-Chain Management.

What is most significant is in how patient-centric thinking truly permeates leadership and decision making, and in particular

  • Leadership that drives the culture in every one of its words and actions
  • Business innovation that embraces it in business models and strategic development
  • Strategic planning that reformats future plans around patients not sales first
  • Payment models built around outcomes not traditional reimbursements
  • Performance incentives likewise built around patients

Fortunately for patients in need of better therapies and experiences, the vast majority of pharma companies have started a journey towards more patient-centricity. While no hard metrics exist that can track success of such initiatives, annual patient-centricity ranking and awards published by industry organizations nevertheless attempt to provide a degree of feedback to the industry.

In a 2013 survey on patient-centricity by research firm Patient-View, for example, ViiV Healthcare (the GSK & Pfizer joint venture focussed on HIV therapies), Gilead, AbbVie, Menarini and Janssen occupied the top 5 spots. Fast forward to 2016 and a review of the eyeforpharma Barcelona Awards 2016 shows not a single one of these companies won in the “Most Valuable Patient Initiative or Service” category, arguably the award most focussed on patient-centricity. Instead, Sanofi took the top spot, and Merck, Roche, Novartis and TEVA were the remaining nominees. UCB, with its renewed focus on the patient, did particularly well that year with 3 nominations and 1 award across categories.

It is noteworthy that even generic pharma companies are focusing more on the patient. The behemoth of the category, TEVA, has a number of initiatives in this space, and the CEO of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, India’s largest maker of generic pharmaceuticals, recently shared in an interview that all innovation at his company has to be patient focussed.

Patient-centricity in pharma is not a fad – it is decidedly here to stay. The reason for this is very simple: Being patient-centric is good for the bottom line. In a 2015 survey by Pharma Marketing News, an impressive 86% of pharma executives either agreed or strongly agreed that “a focus on patient-centricity is the best route to future profitability”.

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