Heather Fraser, registered pharmacist and global life sciences & healthcare lead at the Institute for Business Value, an IBM think tank, gives an ASAP Plenary/Quick Takes talk and Deeper Dive session about “Redefining Partnering in the Healthcare and Life Sciences Ecosystem” on Thursday, Sept.10 at the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference, “Alliance Expertise at the Forefront: Leadership for the Ecosystem,” at the Revere Hotel Boston Common. Fraser shares insights from her talk in a Q&A for the Q3 2015 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine. Here’s a snippet from the interview.
Why is there such a huge interest in ecosystems, especially in the healthcare and life sciences industries?
There are two significant healthcare drivers—societal and economic. On the societal side, there are demographics, an aging population desiring care and quality for better outcomes, HIPPA and compliance regulations, the FDA continually putting pressure on the industries. Additionally, there is a shortage of the right skills and capabilities for this changing healthcare system. On the economic side, there are technology-driven forces, such as the proliferation of mobile devices and the Internet. Collaboration is becoming much easier because we’re seeing a system that is much more connected and open. Technology is much faster and more scalable than in the past. We can almost look ahead of technology requirements, and the cost of using that technology to drive out innovative practices is reducing. Analytics are also helping to drive insights and decision-making. So you can look ahead at the requirements companies have and the cost of using that technology to drive out innovation.
How do alliance managers know they are on the right path during a time of uncertainty? Are there key areas to focus on when partnering in the ecosystem?
The traditional guideposts are not always present. But one certainty is that you need to have mutual goals in place that align around the customer and patient. If you are serving the patient, you are on track. Putting the patient at the center is something the life sciences companies haven’t necessarily done in the past. Many now are going toward targeted treatments, such as measuring the patient for glucose levels in their blood. There are diagnostic devices businesses collaborating with diagnostic companies. Another device might measure the impact of insulin when injected into the system. Services such as a nutritionist advising on correct diet or a fitness clinic on exercise could be another component. Companies are looking beyond the pill to produce a total solution for the diabetes patient. Another example: Novartis just put out a heart drug. Typically, drugs for heart diseases are relatively low cost. But now they say the pricing will be based on patient outcomes. Think payment based on outcomes vs. those based on the sale of a pill.
What does your “Quick Takes” talk focus on?
How ecosystems need orchestration, from a mutuality standpoint. Orchestration requires coordination and arrangements, and some companies are leading the way. We’re seeing IBM Watson Health acting as an orchestrator—bringing not just the platforms, the cloud, but also ecosystem members to the table, and the analytics skills as well. Philips is another example—helping with medical devices. They are very much getting in the healthcare space and acting as an orchestrator. Otsuka Pharmaceutical—they’ve got a therapeutic area for patients with mental health problems, and they are using technology, analytics, and alerts to make sure patients stay on their medications. The other component is mutuality—look at how we’re going to coordinate, setting goals we agree on, setting up mutual standards. There is the example of Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim working together on diabetes—bringing the best and brightest scientists from both companies and really trying to accelerate getting the molecules to market. They are still competitors, but they wanted to come up with a set of standards where they had a mutual interest for that particular need and set of drugs. The ecosystem is about the complex web of interdependent enterprises and companies, public or private, with patients at the center. But at the end of the day, the goal is to create and allocate mutual business value for the whole of the ecosystem. You have to understand what you’re putting in and how you’re going to drive that value out.