We sat down with strategic futurist Tony Estrella to discuss the trends and forces shaping the future of healthcare. Here’s a little highlight before the show at Future of Healthcare event on Thursday Nov 17.
Healthcare isn’t known for being a fast-moving industry. Some people think it’s too old-fashioned, and that the world is changing faster than the industry can keep up. Do you think this is the case? And if so, what can healthcare do to move faster?
If you break down the history of the healthcare industry into research vs. care, you can argue that the care delivery side of health is a fairly young industry. Anesthesia, the importance of clean water, and vaccines were all discovered between 1850-1890. Antibiotics and subsequent development of randomized clinical trials by the US FDA took place in the twenty years between 1940 and 1960s. What about a focus on patient education? Designing patient-centric solutions? Improving clinical trials? Building real-world evidence? These are all areas with less than 30 years of industry experience.
As for moving with more velocity, healthcare could actually be a more fluid industry – we’re just not there yet. But I’m optimistic that things can change because the Covid pandemic has shown us it’s no longer business as usual in healthcare, because now we know that when you release the constraints, things can happen more quickly. If you read the book Moonshot by Dr. Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, many new ways of thinking and acting were put into practice to develop vaccines in record time while still keeping high quality standards for clinical validation and safety. And governments like India changed their policies to legalize telemedicine to deliver care during the pandemic. And now that that door has been opened, real value-based care is being delivered in a remote way in India and in many other countries globally.
Pharmaceutical companies are behind some of the major advances in healthcare. How do you see the pharmaceutical industry’s role changing over the next decade?
Before Covid, there were multiple organizations who said they wanted to move beyond the pill and figure out how to become a greater part of the overall healthcare ecosystem for patients. And to make that a reality, pharma can take the lessons from Covid on working differently, and also build the new capabilities which are not currently areas of expertise for these companies.
For example, to really understand how to build new expansive solutions, design thinking and constructing new consumer journeys help to better understand the unmet needs of individuals. And to learn how to co-create with other companies and health systems, partnership development skills need to be expanded with more creativity. This means collaborating without diving into clinical terminology. And developing partnerships with milestones that anticipate learning from experimentation to achieve scale. Pharmas don’t need to work in the same way that startups operate. It’s somewhere in between.
The healthcare system clearly needs to be open to innovation from outside – you’ve talked about this a lot, as have we. What can we learn from other industries – how is the healthcare industry compared to them?
Instead of operating in a manner where the belief is that healthcare is too different a sector to learn from others, we should actually change the default to say there are definitely things we can learn from other sectors. Take, for example, public-private partnerships. The automotive industry has definitely figured out how to collaborate and co-create with the government – electric vehicles being a great example of innovation happening in close coordination with public infrastructure – but let’s save the rest of that story for my talk on Thursday!
Based in Singapore, Tony Estrella is an author, strategic futurist, and business builder focusing on Personalized Health and Health Equity globally through Taliossa. He is the keynote speaker of Vertical’s Future of Healthcare event. You can learn more about Tony at his site, tonyestrella.com – and of course come see him in person at Vertical’s Future of Healthcare event Thursday Nov 17.
(Image credit: Frontiers Health 2022)