Healthcare: transformative journey
In a world in which all of us are affected by constant and rapid change, few areas are moving as fast and as pervasively as health. Health, by definition, touches every human. In turn, perhaps no area is as impacted by such a wide diversity of stakeholders… with so much at stake.
- This article has been initially published in the EDHEC Vox Mag #13 (Sept. 2022)
“Healthcare transformation involves – and needs to involve – every stakeholder,” says Johanna Lerfel, EDHEC 2013 graduate, Executive Director of the French Healthcare Association. “Government, healthcare and technology companies, institutions, medical professionals, researchers, patients and the public at large, everyone is affected and has a role in shaping the future of healthcare.”
All actors in the healthcare system are being challenged to adapt, says Thibault Desmarest, EDHEC 1998 graduate and President of GSK France. “Healthcare professionals have more access to information about their patients than ever before. Patients meanwhile are playing a much more active role in their own care. Pharma companies need to “go beyond the pill” in developing a more holistic approach to the patient journey. And government has to rapidly adapt to become faster and more agile to keep up or risk losing control of the regulatory environment.”
The trending PS
As the transformation continues, it is possible to see the outlines of tomorrow’s healthcare taking shape. “We are living a real paradigm shift,” says EDHEC Professor and Director of the Management in Innovative Health Chair Loick Menvielle. “New possibilities are emerging for approaches to care that place more emphasis to healthcare around what is referred to as the “4 Ps:” preventive, predictive, personalised and participative.”
Preventive care is becoming increasingly important as life expectancy increases, agrees Johanna Lerfel. “We need to improve our ability to effectively provide care to the elderly while also understanding illness as a continuum, not just a single point in time.”
Advancements in technology, from AI to diagnostic tools to Apple watches, is opening new possibilities for precision medicine and treatment tailored to the individual patient. “We’re moving past one-size-fits-all approaches,” says Thibault Desmarest. “Increasingly, we are able to customise medical treatment according to a patient’s genetic make-up, ethnicity and other factors, as can already be seen in certain fields like oncology.”
All agree that it is the role of the patient that may be undergoing the most dramatic change. The rapid development of digital and other technologies is providing each of us with increasing access to new tools and information that are redefining the long-established relationship between patient and doctor. “There’s no longer a top-down relationship,” says Loick Menvielle. “Physicians are letting go of some power as control shifts and the patient becomes a more active participant in their own health.”
As owners of their own medical information, “patients will be the decision-makers and the pharma industry needs to learn to adapt to this new reality,” adds Thibault Desmarest. He says that patient associations also will continue to play a vital role in increasing understanding and communication about diseases.
As patient information becomes more accessible, new unavoidable concerns are arising around privacy and ethical issues. “The onus will be on industry to be transparent and demonstrate how information will be used to benefit patients and how their privacy is being protected,” says Loick Menvielle. “And, harmonising how data is treated across international borders is another looming challenge.”
Covid: acceleration booster
Still devastating some parts of the world, the Covid-19 pandemic also brought new challenges and disruption to healthcare systems worldwide while accelerating certain trends in an already rapidly changing landscape. “Many countries “re-discovered” the importance of healthcare as a result of the pandemic,” says Johanna Lerfel. “It spurred reflection about preparedness, investment needed and supply chain vulnerability, among other issues.”
Thibault Desmarest says the response to the pandemic pointed to the need for increased collaboration between the private and public sectors and between industries, such as big pharma and biotech. “We saw with Covid that it’s possible for even competitors to set rivalries aside to work together to share knowledge and address an urgent societal need.”
Acceleration in the use of tele-health is another byproduct, says Loick Menvielle. “We saw a big jump in the acceptance of teleconsultations throughout the healthcare value chain and, more broadly, a change in the mindsets of physicians and patients alike about adopting new technologies.”
Also driving and accelerating the major trends: digital technologies. Artificial intelligence, deep learning and machine learning are opening possibilities to explore customised solutions while increasing our understanding of chronic diseases. Virtual and artificial reality offer the promise of pre-training surgeons prior to specific surgical procedures. In addition to personalising care, increased patient data is enabling healthcare professionals to adjust treatment in real time while R&D cycles for new drugs can be significantly reduced.
The technology tsunami brings with it new challenges. “We’re only beginning to grapple with some of the new ethical questions that technological advancements raise,” says Johanna Lerfel. “What limits do we want to impose on genetic modifications? How can we integrate in the continuum of care the ability to create digital twins for medical treatments or drug-less pain management? And how do we ensure universal accessibility to health treatments for those who lack access to technology?”
As in other sectors, digital transformation is disrupting healthcare’s traditional value chain. “New entrants such as Google and Amazon are changing the rules and the way care is delivered and bringing both positive and negative impacts,” says Loick Menvielle. “How can we protect the data of patients while at the same time giving them the possibility to plug into an iPhone and monitor and measure their health indications.”
Preparing tomorrow’s healthcare leaders
Against this array of challenges and change occurring at dizzying speed, what is the role of a Business School like EDHEC in preparing for the healthcare of tomorrow?
“Research, innovation and entrepreneurship are critical areas where EDHEC will continue to contribute,” says Loick Menvielle, but so too is helping healthcare companies understand and anticipate the shifts that enable them to reshape their business models and contribute positive
solutions. Another area: anticipating future needs through course offerings by focusing on data science and accelerating the acquisition of double competencies like healthcare with engineering or information systems. “True to our values, we need to promote diversity and inclusion in healthcare, tackling issues such as technology accessibility and addressing digital illiteracy. With our students, this means also keeping an essential truth in sight that in healthcare, as with anything, the first priority goal isn’t profitability, its improving peoples’ lives.”
Concludes Thibault Desmarest: “EDHEC needs to continue to imprint the entrepreneurial mindset. We need more people who can think on their own, challenge assumptions and push ideas, including in big companies.” Number one on his list of what’s needed most of all? “Leaders who can make a difference in the world and cope with and manage uncertainty. Covid has shown us that we can’t predict what’s going to happen.”