The future of health

There is no doubt that the current healthcare system is not sustainable. Given the growth of an aging population and society’s changing lifestyles, the burden of disease – and with it healthcare costs – are projected to rise dramatically. Efficiency gains will not suffice to cope with this development, so there will be increasing pressure to scrutinize the price of medication and healthcare delivery. This will challenge an industry which is already facing the near breakdown of its business model.

Our approach puts the patient at the center

Today, developing a new drug costs an average of 2.3 billion dollars and takes around 12 years from conceptualization of the target to product launch. These costs are rising as it becomes increasingly challenging to find safe treatments or even a cure for common diseases and regulatory approval gets ever tougher. As a result, profit margins are eroding to a point where the return on investment will inevitably approach zero. It is therefore only a matter of time before the development of new drugs hardly pays off and the innovation pipeline dries up – leaving numerous patients without new treatment options.

Given these scenarios, the healthcare industry must reinvent itself. Digitalization is seen as the great potential savior. The thinking is that, through better analysis and utilization of exploding health data, it should be possible to accelerate research and development, gain a better understanding of diseases, make diagnosis timelier and deliver treatments tailored to individual patient needs. Being able to accurately measure the efficacy of treatment will also allow for new business models linking reimbursement to concrete outcomes of the intervention, thus shifting the risk from the payer and patient to the provider.

Using data to improve the future of health

Making better use of the exploding volume of health data will allow us to:

  • accelerate research and development
  • gain a better understanding of diseases and treatments
  • make timelier diagnoses
  • deliver treatments tailored to individual patient needs

Ecosystem of innovation

This brave new world of a more patient-centric healthcare system is still largely a vision that remains to be explored. The main reason for this is that, until now, industry has mostly succeeded in incremental progress. In other words, innovation took place primarily within separate silos, where pharmaceutical companies developed better therapeutics and healthcare providers improved treatment and care processes, while governments focused on increasing their investments in basic research.

DayOne delivers collaboration

The need for ecosystem innovation has brought together a growing community of professionals and experts from various disciplines and companies in the Basel Area, creating a leading healthcare innovation initiative called DayOne. The initiative is run by Basel Area Business & Innovation, the investment and promotion agency for the Basel Area.

DayOne has identified the following three main fields of action as the starting point to shape the future of health and reinvent the current healthcare system:

1. Make health data accessible

Thanks to digitization, there has been an explosive growth in health data. But estimates suggest that more than 90 percent of this data is not accessible for research. This means that enormous amounts of potential knowledge lie fallow. Open platforms that allow controlled access to health data and at the same time protect the privacy of individuals are still in their infancy.

So far, there has been a lack of economic, social and political incentives for these initiatives to establish themselves against proprietary data aggregators such as Google, Amazon or Facebook. A common effort by all stakeholders is needed to find ways and means to break down data silos and create open, non-discriminatory infrastructures that allow health data to comply to standards and be used as a public good – while safeguarding the privacy of the individual.

2. Turn sick care into healthcare

Today’s healthcare system is an intervention system. As such, it is designed to save lives and combat disease. The business model of all actors is shaped with this goal in mind, and all processes, incentives and competencies are orchestrated accordingly. Even though the current system is able to deliver excellence in acute situations, it reveals its deficiency in treating and caring for the growing aging population and also patients with chronic conditions.

Furthermore, the current system is not built to facilitate early detection and prevention of disease. It is precisely in these areas that digitalization will reveal its greatest effectiveness. Therefore, healthcare needs to adapt to a new mindset focusing more on staying healthy than on simply fighting disease. “Real healthcare” requires a more holistic view of the individual, putting him/her at the center of a 360-degree health service that has yet to be established.

3. Operate along the health/disease continuum

The need for ecosystem innovation has brought together a growing community of professionals and experts from various disciplines and companies in the Basel Area, creating a leading healthcare innovation initiative called DayOne. The initiative is run by Basel Area Business & Innovation, the investment and promotion agency for the Basel Area.

DayOne has identified the following three main fields of action as the starting point to shape the future of health and reinvent the current healthcare system:

As the new healthcare system will not only deal with sickness but also increasingly shift to early detection of diseases and smart preventive interventions it has to become human-centric instead of solely patient-focused. Therefore, a much better understanding of disease and its progression is needed. The sharp line that is drawn today between being sick and healthy will become blurred in a health/disease continuum which allows for better differentiation between different health/disease states.

The regular flow of data between the health system and individuals will allow for automated monitoring and decision support services with personal advice on suitable measures (coaching, medication and intervention). In this scenario, health or disease will increasingly be understood in an individual setting, and the outcome of intervention will therefore be significantly less defined in terms of one size fits all, opening the field for new ways of medical practice and reimbursement schemes.

Fostering radical changes

Healthcare innovation in precision medicine as outlined above will lead to radical changes. The technical revolution in data science, sensors and wearables, the evolution of more and more human/patient-centric healthcare services and interventions, as well as a better understanding of different states in the health/disease continuum could bring about a paradigm shift in biomedical science and a rethink on the common definition and classification of diseases themselves.

The research and development of therapeutics for rare disorders could serve as a model: Continuous improvement of the molecular definitions of different disease states will eventually allow them to be stratified into clusters just like “rare disorders” enabling them to be treated or even cured with greater precision and efficacy.

We believe the future of health will follow an evolutionary path with some disruptive breakthroughs along the way. The current system will not be completely replaced, but transformed and enhanced.

At DayOne, we believe that the future of health can only evolve if advances in the field of new technologies, platforms, business models and thinking go hand in hand with collaborative innovation at the level of a given ecosystem, creating the openness and the right environment for their implementation. This is where DayOne, as a dedicated healthcare innovation initiative situated in midst of one of the world’s leading life sciences cluster, can and will make a difference.

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