How can We Successfully Converge the Health and Technology Ecosystems to Create Value for Patients?

UCBOpinion Article by Erik Janssen, VP, Innovative Solutions, Neurology, UCB Pharma.
The fourth industrial revolution is upon us and fundamentally changing the way we live, work and interact across all industries and sectors. Technological advancements such as artificial intelligence, big data, robotics and systems integration, are radically transforming the world around us, but the greatest opportunity lies within the healthcare industry, where the potential to address today's complex challenges is immense.

While other industries have been adopting the use of technology for a while, the pharma industry has been more skeptical and as such, the rate of change has been slow. We have the tools at our disposal to predict and prevent diseases so it is hard to justify why today, in 2019, still so many patients with severe and chronic diseases are struggling to overcome substantial challenges on a daily basis. The question we must ask ourselves is how can we leverage these new technologies and innovations to start delivering on outcomes and experiences that matter, so patients with severe, chronic conditions can start to live longer and better lives?

At UCB, we are guided by our patient value ambition which aims to deliver unique outcomes and the best patient experience to as many lives as possible. A core part of the strategy involves embracing the convergence of science and technology, to identify unique opportunities to deliver these improved patient outcomes. For three years we have been dedicated to advancing our work in the health technology space, seeking to identify innovative beyond the pill solutions. There is an urgent need for pharma companies to build their technology-driven capabilities to deliver better patient value, but we can’t do it alone, we believe that technology partnerships offer the solution.

Both industries have unique skills and experience that they bring to the table. Pharma have in-depth knowledge of patients, disease management, scientific expertise and patient data, while tech companies have accessibility to, and aggregation of, data, automated data capture processes and predictive analytics. When brought together, there is an opportunity for both industries to benefit and learn from each other, to ultimately create solutions that can aid and advance patient outcomes and experiences. However there are still challenges to overcome. We know that pharma and tech do not yet speak the same language, from internal operations and company culture, to business strategy; our industries are built and operate as two very different ecosystems. Pharma companies are also far more regulated and controlled resulting in complex internal structures and siloed working environments. In contrast, tech companies tend to be much more entrepreneurial, customer centric and rely more heavily on partnerships.

At UCB, we have learnedthat to really succeed in building effective working partnerships between the pharma and technology industrieswe need to recognize the importance of relationships.The basis of any good relationship is understanding your partner, being mindful of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and committing to learn what is needed to succeed. Like all partnerships we need to haveclear, shared goals, and ongoing and open communication specific to the challenges we face. There also needs to be:

  • Awareness of preconceptions and assumptions
  • Understanding that many elements of what we are seeking to achieve will require news skills and understanding
  • Recognition that new governance may be required to make it work
  • Commitment to learn more about each other’s experience, strengths, weaknesses and hopes

This is an incredibly exciting time for healthcare and we, as pharma, need to ensure we are adapting our approach, knowing the value that science and technology can bring to patients along their journey.

In partnership, our strength in unity will mean we really can improve the lives of millions of people worldwide.

About UCB

UCB, Brussels, Belgium (www.ucb.com) is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines and solutions to transform the lives of people living with severe diseases of the immune system or of the central nervous system. With 7 500 people in approximately 40 countries, the company generated revenue of € 4.6 billion in 2018. UCB is listed on Euronext Brussels (symbol: UCB).

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