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BIO 2012: New Business Models Need to Engage the Patient

Peter Winter
BioWorld Insight Editor

BOSTON – Patients are becoming more involved in their own health care decisions, and companies that realize this and integrate those changing dynamics into their own business models will be the ones that ultimately profit and be successful in the future. That was the theme discussed in a panel at BIO 2012, titled "New rules of patient engagement."

Innovation in health care is no longer just about the product; it now encompasses how companies mobilize their resources to contribute to healthy outcomes for patients.

The world of Pharma 3.0, a term coined by Ernst & Young last year in a report, visualizes an ecosystem that is radically different from today. It involves a shift from innovation that is purely focused on products to one that embraces improvements in health outcomes for patients. That evolution is being driven by rapid advancements in health care technology. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 16, 2011.)

The present health care system is stuck in Pharma 1.0. "The technology is already available to change our business models," said Daniel Sands, director, Healthcare Business Transformation at Cisco Systems. "For example, there are over 1,500 health care apps available currently as well as educational websites, social media platforms and wireless devices." The real problem is adoption of that technology into profitable business models, Sands added. "Unfortunately, we don't have enough technology in common use at the encounter between patient and physician. However, new technology is forcing us to change the way we think about delivering health care. We have to innovate or die."

Panelist Robert Prochar, senior vice president at Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc., agreed. There is a wealth of information that is out there. "The question becomes how we build decision-support systems that are patient- and physician-friendly rather than just whatever flows to the top in a Google search? Anyway you cut we are still in an employment-based health care system," he said. "If we start to deliver coordinated care that works, people will pay for that."

According to William Tulskie, CEO of HealthcareIT Inc., to succeed in the new environment, companies have to be prepared to work collaboratively and move away from a product-based mentality. Although people recognize the importance of personalized medicine, it is taking time to percolate down to the level of physician and patient.

As the price of sequencing dips below $1,000, the genomics revolution will certain drive and accelerate changes to the system, said Nancy Kelley, founding executive director of New York Genome Center.

The sentiment among the panelists was that it is still going to take many years before the full impact of the new technologies are really felt in the delivery of health care.