In this lively discussion of technological and management innovation in health care, the topics discussed ranged from the challenges in predictive data analytics to how physicians in Ibaraki prefecture banded together through the medical association to request the Japanese government to have common information systems across different providers to facilitate flow of patient information for effective delivery of care. Of the various discussions, two topics discussed particularly thought-provoking. One was about personalized versus population healthcare, and the other about mentality about new healthcare ‘innovations’ (be it drugs, devices, use of big data predictive analytics for patient decision support, or health systems operation procedures).
The discussion about personalized medicine was a nice continuation from the Forum’s featured speech where Mr. Osamu Nagayama, Chairman and CEO of Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., spoke about the growing biopharmaceutical market and how personalized healthcare is one of the next big things in drug innovation. In Friday’s panel, Dr. Jianwei Xuan, Senior Director, Emerging Markets Business Units at Pfizer Corporation elaborated on the concept of personalized medicine which was about identifying the right patient for the right treatment to maximize efficacy with minimal side effect. Of course this comes with challenges where he elaborated the issue of having to diagnose to a more specific degree (for a specific gene mutation) and how that can be an obstacle both from an innovation and cost perspective, reimbursement perspective and practitioner’s perspective. What struck me was that personalized medicine is like rare disease in that it is catered towards small populations (although this may be a subset of a larger population with a condition). With that, there arises an issue about how to make personalized medicine a profitable venture at reasonable cost. With rising costs in health care, would payers be willing to pay for such efficacy even though its reach is small? It would be really interesting to see how this realm of innovation in the biopharmaceutical market develops.
The second interesting discussion arose when an audience member raised the question “how should new innovations be introduced into health care systems?” Is there a right way to bring new technologies into the market and he brought up the example of how drug-eluting stents were introduced into the market as a single product but not with a wholesome approach. Professor Scott Wallace of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College addressed this with the need for solutions to be oriented around the value of innovation as opposed to the novelty of the innovation. Unfortunately, in current health care systems, accurately tracking patient outcomes is not practiced and without the measure of value, it is hard to orientate solutions around the value of innovation.
By Vivien Lee, The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College