ASAP is introducing an exciting new presentation format at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit March 1-4: the “ASAP Quick Takes,” patterned after “TED Talks” and well-received at the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference, will bring four provocative speakers to the stage to provide specific, complementary insights relating to emerging ecosystems. Organized around the theme “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem,” the summit will be held just outside the US capital at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland. Among the executives in the line-up is Marcus Wilson, president and co-founder of Anthem’s real-world research subsidiary, HealthCore. With reams of background information and perspective, Wilson is well-placed to speak on his topic “The Alliance Professional as Entrepreneur.” His experience as an entrepreneur has positioned him as a guiding force in his current mission to improve the safety, quality, and affordability of healthcare through data and research. He previously developed and ran the Health Outcomes and Clinical Research program for BCBS of Delaware, on which HealthCore is founded.
ASAP Media: What are some techniques or approaches you use to jumpstart innovation and creativity as an intrapreneur?
Marcus Wilson: Making the shift from an entrepreneur to working as an intrapreneur, I have found that there are two major concepts to embrace. First, I advise intrapreneurs to have patience. Second, innovative concepts have to be well-socialized ahead of formal introduction. Each group or department impacted by that idea needs to be on board with the idea or subtle undermining will limit or completely inhibit progress. As we mature new concepts, we also put into our plan a “campaign” of sorts to help recruit key influencers across the enterprise. It is one step we take to pave the way for these new concepts to gain momentum.
How is being an intrapreneur different than being an entrepreneur in your industry, and how do they accommodate alliance managers to set the stage for the next levels of meeting customer needs?
I would imagine for some the difference is significant. Though we have dealt with significant adjustment issues over time, the conversion to being a part of a much larger organization has gone reasonably well. We sold our company to Anthem in 2003 because we felt strongly it was an important step in accomplishing our mission. They had the resources and the position within the healthcare system that would allow us to build capabilities and influence healthcare evidence development in a way we could not do as a small, independent company. Though we have certainly had our challenges, we have benefitted from a solid business structure within Anthem that preserved much of our “entrepreneurial” culture, which was well planned prior to our acquisition, and strong executive level support over the last 13 years. Our alliance managers have played, and continue to play, a key role in both our internal and external alliances.
What kinds of changes do intrapreneurs need to make in the evolving healthcare ecosystem?
The healthcare ecosystem can be quite complex, and I am convinced that alliance collaborations are going to be at the heart of solving some of its current issues. Ironically, I believe we can simplify the experience for the patient by collaborating across the ecosystem itself. Thus, intrapreneurial alliance managers will be collaborating in alliances of all kinds, often with multiple companies or institutions working on the same issue. I see this as a huge shift from where alliance management first began in life sciences, traditionally between partner companies of relatively equal size.
How do you stay ahead of the curve in terms of innovation and "outside-in thinking?"
A good entrepreneur knows that great ideas can come from literally anywhere. We need to champion this viewpoint as we work to innovate. Just this week, we were talking about the Top 10 trends in healthcare, and asking ourselves for each item: “How might this development influence our future business? How might we organize ourselves to better leverage that innovation? Are we in a unique position to bring that innovation to others? As a novel, care research organization, what insights can we bring to a given issue?” As this is core to our business, it is critical to maintain and harness that outside-in thinking.
How is HealthCore on the cutting-edge of intraprenuership and understanding customer needs in the evolving healthcare ecosystem?
Our early years were spent embedded in a large group practice in Delaware. We worked to support better decision making between the physician and patient at the point of care. Many tough lessons learned in those formative years led us to begin developing innovative ways to get the right information to those two key decision makers. Since our inception in 1996, we have felt the best means of impacting patient outcomes was to influence the many decisions made prior to new drugs and technologies getting to the patient. Realizing the innovators (e.g., the pharmaceutical industry), the regulators (FDA in the US) and policymakers had a major impact on what eventually makes its way to the point of care, we positioned HealthCore squarely on the lines where healthcare stakeholders intersect. Our position gives us rare insight into the needs, priorities, and unique language of each of these stakeholders. In this effort, collaboration is key. We are owned by a payer and leverage the resources and raw materials (data and their important relationships with the providers and patients) from that payer to close critical gaps in evidence in collaboration with the industry and regulators, which facilitates better technologies getting to the market with the right evidence to support their effective use in patient care. It is often a very tough line to walk, and alliance management is essential to our success.