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March 27, 2018
Breaking with tradition: It’s good to collaborate. A snapshot from eyeforpharma Barcelona 2018
By: Andrew Finlayson

The glorious city of Barcelona was once again the location for what’s become an essential event for the Pharma Industry - eyeforpharma. 1300 delegates, 135 speakers and over 85 Pharma companies were in attendance. The number of delegates increases year on year as do the exhibitors – due mainly to the trusted curation of thought leadership, vision and storytelling by the eyeforpharma team. Paul Simms, chairman of eyeforpharma, set the theme of the conference as ‘where pharma becomes the solution’ – beginning the conference with a very immediate context rather than a futurist lens. It certainly caught my attention. I’ve been a believer in patient centred, technology enabled, health care ecosystems for some time – all the way from R&D through to Commercial and Medical – however making this a reality was widely appreciated to be tough.

Can we disrupt?  We all learned through the days that followed that leadership and decisions to shift the way all Pharma’s operate to go way ‘beyond the pill’ really is our gift.  Precedents and proven cases, often backed with clinical study results and commercial benefits, were shared time and again.  Business cases, value cases, call to action and directional shifts can be written with confidence using a fraction of what was talked through. The industry is used to working in traditional ways that often prevents experimenting, iterating and pivoting, etc. Yet there are many stories where these traditions are challenged – and where these traditions just don’t work anymore for the new range of treatments and services. Our industry loves to benchmark changes based on others in the industry and that isn’t working any more either.

Launch is upon us. It was stated that there are over 7,000 treatments currently in development globally and, in some cases, Pharma companies haven’t launched new treatments in recent times and as such – lack the experience and organisations to launch effectively. I was fortunate to be on a panel in our call to action breakout for Product Launch titled “The Patient has spoken: An inside look at what Patients want and need.  Pharma companies guide to launching new products.” My colleague Boris Bogdan led the breakout sharing research from 8,000 patients which backed up our thought leadership on the topic affirming recommendations for launching today.  Milind Kamkolkar, Chief Data Officer from Sanofi and Rafael Ramon, Commercial Excellence Leader from Roche provided their perspectives on the panel also including reflections of how data must underpin decisions to ensure launches are effective.  The questions that came through from the audience themed around how their organisations can change to respond and how their cultures may have to evolve too. 

It’s good to collaborate. The broader healthcare ecosystem beyond Pharma was present and there was a lot of discussion around integration, collaboration and such. These speakers and organisations were much more prominent than in previous years and a good reflection of ongoing progress forming partnerships and working with new industry players. Notable speakers from my perspective included Ryan Olohan, the Global Healthcare director from Google - Andrin Oswald from the Bill & Milinda Gates Foundation plus Andrew Baum from Citi.  Hard to imagine any of these being present in a Pharma conference 5 years ago but they are now.

Open Innovation is innovation too.  The rise of start-ups was inspiring. Although many speakers and exhibitors offered a wealth of experience from many years in the industry it was encouraging to see active experimentation with start-ups within many of the stories. Start-ups benefiting patient adherence, health literacy, launch excellence and offering algorithms for predictive health intelligence were all notable. I’ve been heavily involved in our HealthTech Innovation Challenge these past few years and witnessing how some of the early stage start-ups are now impacting patient outcomes with Pharma companies is sincerely encouraging. I’m hopeful that next year’s conference will have a lot more presence from the start-up community.

Digital evolved.  My final observation is one of the presence and impact of Digital.  I lead the team in Accenture Interactive and we strive and support our clients to deliver remarkable experiences which includes Digital experiences (complimenting Human experiences which don’t have to be Digital at all).  Aside from being my role, I’m passionate about Digital as it opens up access and inclusion in ways that would not be possible without it. In my first eyeforpharma conference Digital was often an app, a website or such. Although levels of maturity and understanding widely differed from speaker to speaker I didn’t hear anyone posing a question of whether Digital was an option.  I was wholeheartedly encouraged to hear Digital experiences discussed in a much more experiential manner – recognising Digital as a key connection point across the ecosystem. 

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