The consumer healthcare innovations needed to transform lives

Dan Boot, Head of Digital, Disruptive Innovation and Dave Evendon-Challis, VP of Innovation at RB offer insight on the most significant trends in the consumer health industry

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Pharma IQ

“In the next five to ten years, we’ll witness a paradigm shift as technology empowers consumers who want to be involved and engaged to take control of their health” Dr. Bertalan Mesko, Director of the Medical Futurist Institute

The consumer healthcare landscape is changing at a rapid rate. Consumers are ready to become active participants in their health, digital therapeutics are becoming commonplace and we are collecting more data than ever before.

As we start to approach healthcare in a more holistic manner, we are building up a full picture of the patient experience. We are also seeing experimentation into new forms of treatment, from personalized medicine to nano-targeting and virtual pain relief. 

With futher innovation expected, we spoke to Dan Boot, Head of Digital, Disruptive Innovation and Dave Evendon-Challis, VP of Innovation at RB to hear their insight about some of the most notable upcoming changes.


Digital citizenship

Dave explained that in recent years we have seen a “blurring of lines between consumer healthcare and pharma, with people taking health into their own hands”. This has created a new group of digital citizens who seek to be active participants in their own health plans. 

Healthcare needs are also changing, with growing interest in home health management and preventative wellness measures. Alongside this, consumers are seeking out digital tools to gain a greater visibility on their own health.

Across all regions, the access and usage of smart devices is on the rise. It is expected that personal healthcare innovations will grow in tandem, with the number of consumers using health tracking apps already doubling since March 2014. 

Dan believes that one of the biggest impacts of these devices will be the “huge proliferation of data being generated”. He points out that “across all spectrums of life, through wearable devices, phones, applications and services, information is being collected at a vast pace”. He hopes that this increase in information will allow us to build a detailed picture of a consumer’s personal life and health experience in a way that previously was not possible. This will allow consumers to take a greater level of ownership of their own health and wellbeing. However, Dan does point out that there will be a need for consumers to become mature digital citizens and take note of the way they use, protect and understand their personal data.

Dave also highlights that as we move towards a stage of more personal and digital health experiences, the industry will need to give a greater focus to user experience.


Artificial Intelligence

In recent years, the potential applications of artificial intelligence have been a key focus on the healthcare industry. As an industry with a myriad of siloed data and a need for innovative approaches to uncover new insights, AI has been touted as a silver bullet. 

Many companies are still in the early stages of application, with some starting to see a notable impact from the technology when applied to solve a specific, complex problem. 

Dan highlights that the real power of AI comes from its ability to put the data we collect to work. He expects AI to “allow us to spot patterns and connections that would otherwise go unnoticed”. This will allow companies to deal with a scale of information not yet tackled and derive new connections and ideas.

Dan also hopes that the technology will eventually allow us to make accurate and insightful predictions, which could open up a new era of proactive consumer health and preventative medicine. 


Personalized medicine

“If you sequence your genome and understand your genes, then the drug, dose and formulation that works exactly for you can be identified, ensuring you’re prescribe the right drug at the right time, at the right dose and with the right treatment regime” Maneesh Juneja, Digital Health Futurist

With the blockbuster drug era over, we are seeing a growing interest in finding personalized treatments. Dan sees it as a positive step that we are moving away from a one size fits all approach. As he puts it, "there is an acceptance now that we all unique… so we need to start to personalize treatment and wellness according to our individual needs”.

Dave seconds this and points out the need to think about the different elements of personalization, with greater consideration needed for the types of inputs we are using to drive new solutions. He also highlights the need to distinguish the difference between personalized and customized treatments. In his opinion, personalized treatment will positively limit the consumer choice when it comes to treatment by finding a bespoke solution for their illness. 


Digital innovation in healthcare

When you consider some of the previous innovations in the pharmaceutical and healthcare space, Dan points out that these have dominantly come from the physical space. For him, “the acceleration of digital innovation will actually be the biggest innovation for healthcare”. He foresees a “combination of digital and physical which will allow for far better results than using either one individually”. He also believes that this combination will allow us to build more complete healthcare solutions which can positively impact consumer’s lives.

Dave echoes this point, noting that “the combination of digital therapeutics and existing drugs is going to be what really helps people”. In the long run, he believes we may even remove the physical component, but at a practical level we are now seeing digital initiatives start to improve consumers daily lives. These range from the introduction of telemedicine increasing medical access to digital tools helping to build habitual medication compliance,

For the future success of such innovations though, Dave believes that it will require the industry to work together more cohesively. He wants to encourage more companies to explore partnerships. He says that “for us as an industry, partnering up big companies with small, digitally driven start-ups is hat we need to do to accelerate innovation”. This future of digital innovation cannot be achieved by one company or solution and instead requires a healthcare ecosystem which is ready to push for change.