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June 22, 2016
Imagining a better world for patients is getting easier
By: Anne O'Riordan

Learnings from the 2016 Bio International Conference

Last week’s Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) International Convention in San Francisco lived up to its reputation as the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry with nearly 16,000 industry leaders from 76 countries and 48 states. The core theme was “Imagine” with a focus on innovation and an acknowledgment of the operational changes necessary to keep pace with innovation.

My co-author, Jeff Elton, and I also hosted a Super Session, entitled “Healthcare Disrupted: Moving Towards the Patient-Centered, Value –Driven Biopharma” with a dynamic panel that included:

  • Mike Nohaile, VP Strategy and Innovation – Amgen

  • John Glasspool, EVP and Head of Corporate Strategy and Customer Operations – Baxalta (now part of Shire)

  • Doug Biehn, COO – AliveCor

Our discussion focused on how the new economic reality, market shifts and digital revolution are changing the definition of what “heathcare” actually is and how it will be delivered and experienced. The panelists all agreed that patients are taking a much greater role in managing their health, driven in part by having to take a larger portion of the cost burden with higher deductibles, but also because they CAN through digital tools and engagement. John Glasspool shared his thinking on how companies need to show how their products fit into the larger healthcare system in improving patient care—whether that is enabling them to be treated in their homes or increasing therapy compliance. His company has developed an app for hemophilia patients called MyPKFiT which was created to help patients figure out the most appropriate dose when taking its drug Advate.

Doug Biehn commented on the overall changing needs of patients noting that ‘patients don’t change their standards when they deal with Instagram versus medicine’. The availability of devices and trackers will provide an ability to change the outcomes for patients and the broader healthcare system.

Mike Nohalie sees the entire healthcare system rallying around physicians to help them make better decisions by bringing together different sets of data about the patient that currently sit independent of one another. This holistic view of the patient--and all aspects of his or her care—is finally doable with new collaborative digital technologies and an earnest willingness to work across the full healthcare system.

One key theme that resonated throughout the conference is the unwavering dedication the industry has to helping people live better, longer lives--finding cures to some of the most devastating diseases and ways to prolong life. This is truly the lifeblood and motivation of the industry which was clear amongst the attendees. A great deal of investment goes into drugs that fail---but the learnings from those failures are essential to discovering a drug that works. A new initiative by BIO called Innovation Saves, is focused on helping the general public see value and dedication of the industry to improving people’s lives. Jeff Elton and I were privileged to be filmed for this new initiative in relationship to our book, Healthcare Disrupted. We were thrilled to be invited and to contribute to a phenomenal initiative that will continue to demonstrate how this industry truly makes a difference to people’s lives.

The critical inflection point in which we find ourselves offers an unprecedented opportunity to redefine and reshape what we consider healthcare to be, how it functions as a market and what expectations we should have for it. Keeping the patient at the center of this redefinition gives us a profound optimism about what these changes can bring in terms of patient and health economic outcomes. We can improve, reinvent or we can innovate a new way. Imagine!

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