Alexander Bedenkov – VP, Global Evidence, BioPharmaceuticals Medical & Global Health Innovation Hubs (A.Catalyst) Network Head
A call to action to keep ahead of a diversifying ecosystem
The Patient of the Future has arrived. Who are they? What do they want? How do they make decisions? What do they value, how they behave and what they choose to spend on is different to the patient of yesteryear.i This new type of patient emerges in a rapidly changing healthcare ecosystem.
Within this new and changing healthcare ecosystem, there are a number of changes taking place:
1. We are witnessing changes in disease burden, evident in the rise of non-communicable diseases. The World Health Organization states that the top three causes of all deaths are coronary heart disease, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Non-communicable diseases are responsible for approximately 71% of global deaths annually.ii
2. At the same time, the threat of communicable diseases is increasing as seen with the recent COVID-19 pandemic.iii
3. Another public health challenge is the global ageing population. The World Population Prospects 2019 state that “by 2050, 1 in 6 people in the world will be over the age of 65, up from 1 in 11 in 2019.”iv
The rise in diseases — communicable and non-communicable, in addition to an ageing population, are some of the challenges facing the new healthcare ecosystem.
At the same time, the healthcare sector has never been so innovative. We are seeing an increase in new technologies, especially personalized medicine. In addition, improved availability of data in the sector is enabling better prediction and tracking of healthcare outcomes. This leads to patients having greater control over their health and therefore, paving the way for a new type of healthcare ecosystem which puts patients at the center of everything — a PATIENT-CENTRIC ecosystem.
Stakeholders are adapting
Stakeholders of this new healthcare ecosystem are also adapting to keep up with the changes. How are these stakeholders changing? What industries are they from? Whilst we are seeing new players coming in from technology (e.g. Amazon) and the food industry (e.g. Danone), to name a few.
Traditionally, the healthcare ecosystem has often been fragmented and disjointed with stakeholders having their own agendas and priorities. But now, we see that many healthcare providers are working with government agencies, social services, faith-based organizations towards a common goal of population health.v We should ensure that these organizations work towards common objectives together as partners to achieve a greater collective impact. Experts within healthcare forecast more tech investments and increased collaboration between home health and hospitals.vi There is also a need for enhanced cohesion and clearer alignment on stakeholders’ priorities and efforts are required to address patients’ current and future unmet needs in a holistic and sustainable way.
Given the current and future healthcare ecosystem, AstraZeneca aims to strengthen local healthcare ecosystems whilst ensuring they can thrive and develop to better meet patients’ needs. One of the ways AstraZeneca is trying to do this is through the A.Catalyst Network.
“Through A.Catalyst Network, we are bringing together diverse stakeholders across industry and geographical boundaries, facilitating collaborative action, and opening up new opportunities to enhance patient-enabled innovation.” — Joris Silon, US Country President, BioPharmaceuticals Business Unit at AstraZeneca
What is the A.Catalyst Network?
The A.Catalyst Network is an interconnected and dynamic global network of more than 20 AstraZeneca health innovation hubs, made up of physical locations and virtual partnerships. It aims to address healthcare challenges, increase access to healthcare and scale and showcase patient-enabled innovation through partnerships within the local health ecosystems.
The network serves as a mechanism for country hubs to connect, collaborate and share their experiences in healthcare solutions. Through these joint efforts, hubs are focused on delivering these treatments according to patients’ needs, thus providing them with tailor-made therapies.
What’s the impact? The network has helped to reach over 559,000 patients through various projects — all aiming to improve patient’s health outcomes and experiences. Through the network, over 223 start-ups across a range of therapy areas were able to flourish.
What does it look like?
• INDIA — Project Heart Beat carried out by the India Innovation Hub uses a digital platform to initially screen patients in remote areas with symptoms of heart disease, enabling specialists to detect whether patients require access to urgent medical care in remote areas.
• Gulf Cooperation Council — Launched in 2020, following the signing of an MoU with UK-based innovation partners, Gendius, the hub based in GCC provides access to a wealth of resources and information from partners around the globe. The integration of the region into this comprehensive biomedical ecosystem will help to further local medical capabilities, improving the ability of HCPs and the lives of patients.
AZ EduGATE: a digital network of medical professionals (targeting 17,000 HCPs in GCC in 2021).
HealthGATE: an app developed and implemented in GCC to provide online consultation and e-prescriptions. It also provides diabetes education and remote support for diagnosis and treatment by connecting patients to a comprehensive network of HCPs and will support a lung cancer screening and diagnosis project with Qure.AI. In 2021, a new user interface was introduced, incorporating technologies that support HCP practice and enable the connection with the patients.
GCC Medical Digital Workshop: bootcamp for internal stakeholders, designed to leverage digital capabilities, generate new approaches for the AstraZeneca GCC digital platforms and share best practices across GCC markets.
• SWEDEN — Another of the partner’s, OnDosis, is a collaboration project which works in conjunction with the Swedish government. OnDosis creates new projects based on existing ideas from companies and develops a platform aimed at maximizing the benefits received from prescribed therapies, through easier ways for patients to take medicines.
At the end of the day, patients’ needs have to be at the center of everything the healthcare ecosystem does
The A.Catalyst network provides an example of how a collaborative model can help meet current and future healthcare needs at
country level with interconnectedness at the global level. This enables
opportunities for further collaborations and sharing of learnings across countries and sectors. What drives the network is the need for hubs to continue to reevaluate their work, seek gaps in the market for innovative healthcare treatments, and
create new ways for these to be carried out effectively and for the benefit of those who are at the center of their work — PATIENTS.
What more can be done? Stakeholders within the healthcare ecosystem should focus on increasing collaboration through enhanced alignment of their priorities, and crucially — putting patients at the forefront of their work, vision and care. For the healthcare ecosystem to continue progressing, stakeholders could realize their potential for being part of innovative and advanced ways for meeting patients’ needs. Increasing collaboration efforts coupled with an enhanced alignment of objectives, should serve as the catalyst in furthering the response to patients’ changing needs.
i Janus. S (2021) How Patients are Changing the Healthcare Landscape. Available at: https://knowledge-leader.colliers.com/shawn-janus/how-patients-are-changing-the-healthcare-landscape/ (Accessed March 2022)
ii World Health Organization (2020) The top 10 causes of death. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death (Accessed March 2022)
iii World Health Organization (2021) WHO Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard. Available at: https://covid19.who.int/ (Accessed March 2022)
iv United Nations (2019) World Population Ageing 2019 Report – Highlights. Available at: https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/ageing/WorldPopulationAgeing2019-Highlights.pdf (Accessed March 2022)
v Society For Health Care Strategy & Market Development (2021) Evolving Healthcare Landscape. Available at : https://www.shsmd.org/resources/bridging-worlds2.0/evolving-healthcare-landscape (Accessed March 2022)
vi Cerner (2019) 9 Concepts Shaping the Health Care Landscape in 2019. Available at: https://www.cerner.com/perspectives/9-concepts-shaping-the-health-care-landscape-in-2019 (Accessed March 2022)
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