What Will Healthcare Look Like in 50 to 100 Years?

If we focus on innovation and sustainability, healthcare will evolve in ways that are in sync with the changing needs of patients, the economy and global politics.

BioFest 2016

The following post is excerpted from Paul Perreault’s remarks at International BioFest 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.

December 6, 2016

Healthcare statisticians tell us that the first person who will live to 150 years of age has already been born. Considering human biology and the challenges we would need to overcome, doubling our life expectancy at first seems fanciful. But with our understanding of science and the refined art of personalized medicine, 150 may be reasonable.

In fact, our understanding of human biology is expanding at an exponential rate. Ten years ago it took the world’s greatest minds 10 years to map the human genome. Now it takes one day. Even for those of us in the healthcare sector, it is virtually impossible to predict what healthcare will look like in 50 or 100 years. But there are constants to guide us.

Every business decision a pharmaceutical company makes should be viewed through the overarching prism of patient need.

One is that every business decision a pharmaceutical company makes should be viewed through the overarching prism of patient need. Patients today are more informed and empowered and have greater stake in their care than ever before. As a result, we are seeing a paradigm shift from doing “to” and “for” patients to a more engaging environment of doing “with” patients.

The key driver for shaping the future of healthcare comes down to the ability and willingness to consistently innovate. And because of the timelines with which pharmaceutical companies must contend, we need to think and plan decades out, i.e., ‘what do we have in the lab that we will launch in 2026, and what will we launch after that?’

Innovation is also about meeting patient needs in new ways that offer greater flexibility and convenience.

Innovation is not just about developing new medicines. There needs to be a constant focus right through the supply chain and on cost and efficiency. Innovation can also be about meeting patient needs in new markets. There are 1.4 billion people in China. Many of them suffer from rare and serious diseases and we would like to help them. But the only product we are currently allowed to import into China is albumin. Innovation is also about meeting patient needs in new ways that offer greater flexibility and convenience.

As we seek to shape the future of healthcare, it is also our responsibility to help governments understand the impact of constantly changing regulations or globally uncompetitive macro-economic regimes. Business needs certainty. Mergers and acquisitions also play a role in shaping the future of healthcare. Smart acquisitions can help to maintain sustainable growth.

When companies try to grow by buying businesses they know nothing about, it makes it much harder to succeed and patients are not well-served.

But organic growth is still necessary for success. Good acquisitions are ones that fit with the core elements of a business. When companies try to grow by buying businesses they know nothing about, it makes it much harder to succeed and patients are not well-served.

It takes hard work to build a culture of innovation and match R&D skills and capacity. This year, we will spend over $600 million (US) on R&D and employ an R&D workforce of around 1100 people. We actually have more scientists than salespeople. And we are working to maintain a strong pipeline of prospective products in various stages of development. Our collaborations with the medical research community are critical to this success.

Still, our best prognostications aside, when we consider the question, what will healthcare look like in 50 or 100 years, the answer is, we don’t know. But as long as every business decision by a pharmaceutical company is viewed through the overarching prism of patient need, the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries will remain sustainable and strong. And that is in everyone’s interest, starting with patients. This is our guiding principle for ensuring that the future of healthcare is bright.

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Paul Perreault is CEO and Managing Director of CSL, which is CSL Behring’s parent company.

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