THE MAINSTREAMING OF DIGITAL HEALTH

August 15, 2018 - 5 minutes read

Addressing audiences and media across Asia in recent weeks, it’s clear that the future of healthcare has arrived and it’s digital. Digital health is a keynote topic in every conference and among the first questions interviewers pose. Add to that the growing appetite for collaboration and partnership between private and public sectors to accelerate the development of digital health platforms and it’s apparent that we have turned a corner.

In fact, there is general consensus among public and private sectors that it’s vital we push the traditional boundaries of pharmaceutical innovation and embrace digital health technology to enhance patient well-being. Because accelerating digital health innovation promises to deliver productivity and scale it that has the potential to affect a massive infrastructure leap that in turn will enable Asian economies to manage the healthcare demands of growing, aging populations.

It’s a powerful ambition whose time has come. The announcement of our new painfocus™ digital platform feels like a good time to recap some of the insights shared in these discussions as a way of keeping the dialogue moving forward in a positive, purposeful direction.

In my discussions, the thinking continues to crystalise around the following overlapping themes.

  • Technology-inspired healthcare transformation will complement, not replace, traditional healthcare delivery. It will boost scale, improve quality and accuracy, and improve efficiency in mature economies – and perhaps more importantly, support larger emerging population centres overcome their pressing resourcing issues presented by demographic pressures as well as existing and emerging public health risks.
  • Similarly, it will drive efficiency and productivity through the automation of low-level tasks, freeing up human resources to focus on patient interaction. It will also encourage the enhanced delivery of primary healthcare through smartphone enabled apps to support preventative and first level care strategies, give patients control over treatment, and improve the accuracy of treatment.
  • Administratively, digitisation through the implementation of universal health records will increase continuity of care for patients and improve administrative efficiency and removing redundancies from the healthcare system – a critical factor in managing the health dollar. At the same time, the deployment of AI, machine learning and increasingly smart data analysis will improve supply chain efficiency and help target treatments as well as address population trends. This last point is critical when we view the future of pharma through a sustainability lens: smarter use of data will ensure that treatments can be customised and targeted at their intended need, reducing redundancy and waste.
  • Expectations of the private sector are rising. While there is widespread acceptance of the importance of integrating technology innovation as a transformative element in modern healthcare delivery, it’s the private sector that has the opportunity and responsibility to act as the risk-taker, innovator and disruptor, with the public sector the beneficiary of that ambition. This is something we’ve embraced with painfocus™.
  • Put another way, the private sector’s role is to innovate for the public good as well as business growth. The soon to be opened Mundipharma Global Consumer Healthcare Hub in Tuas, Singapore, is an example of how the private sector can innovate to meet local market requirements, through the development of treatments tailored to Southeast Asian patient needs as opposed to a generic global product development. R&D can similarly be focused on the threat posed by epidemics to the region.
  • In the same vein, it’s important that the private sector is in sync with government and the public health sector, listening and maintaining close relationships as health ministries and departments and the medical community have the most intimate, informed relationship with patients. They are closest to our patients, who expect private sector partners to align with authorities and medical experts.

To sum up, complementary innovation to meet the demographic challenge, private sector leadership, public sector collaboration and partnership are the core themes that run through every conversation and are guiding strategies regionally and globally. The journey has begun.

I welcome your thoughts.