For decades, companies in the medtech and pharma sectors have delivered healthcare innovations separately – collaboration has been limited. However, we know that this is not how patients experience healthcare. In the real world, diagnostics, devices, medicines, vaccines and digital tools combine to keep people healthy and to treat those who are unwell.
This reality is reflected in the new EU PPP for Health which will launch next year. It is the successor to the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) – a public-private partnership between the European Commission and the research-based pharmaceutical industry.
Whereas IMI focused primarily on medicines development, the new initiative holds significant new opportunities for those working on devices, diagnostics and digital. It represents the entire value chain, putting patients at the centre.
This is reflected in the five pillars on which it is built: precision medicine, integrated care, digital health, citizen/patient empowerment and value. The COVID-19 crisis highlights the need to accelerate collaboration in these areas.
Take digital health, for example. We have seen an increased appetite for embracing remote care and telemonitoring as health authorities – and patients – seek to reduce hospital visits. Diagnostics have also shown their worth during the crisis as testing took centre-stage in efforts to identify cases and limit new infections. Digitally-enabled care pathways are coming where data, analytics and dashboards are key to ensure flow of information and timely interventions.
However, diagnostics are often the unsung heroes of healthcare. This is one area where the focus on value could help health systems to invest in innovations that deliver better outcomes and contain overall costs.
The PPP for Health is an opportunity to step up Europe’s capacity to measure patient outcomes and the long-term wellbeing of our citizens. It is time to think hard about the value of prevention – whether that’s avoiding infection and diabetes complications or reducing hospitalisation rates and the progression of long-term disease. And it’s time to measure and reward the positive impact that good health has on our economies.
The pandemic also holds other lessons which should shape our future partnerships. The world has had a crash course in the impact of an infectious disease on healthcare and economies. But we must not forget the role that underlying conditions linked to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) played in patient outcomes. We have seen first-hand that a healthy population can be priceless.
There are some positives to take from our unwanted battle against COVID-19. A holistic approach was essential to meeting demand for laboratory capacity, ventilators and ICU beds. The traditional divisions between public and private were blurred as we sought solutions to a shared problem. This is the spirit we must take forward in our new PPP.
We now have an opportunity for an unprecedented cross-sectoral partnership that can help Europe meet the future healthcare needs of its citizens. In the process, it has the potential to boost the EU’s global competitiveness and become as magnet for innovation and talent.
Despite pressure and different views on allocation of EU Funding among various programmes, we believe that the scarring experience of COVID-19 can lead to only one conclusion: Europe must do more to drive healthcare innovation. The PPP for Health is our chance to make it happen.