Kesha Tansey, Senior Account Director in our Pharma & Life Sciences team, recently attended eyeforpharma 2019 in the not-so-sunny Barcelona. Here she reflects on the discussions around how we will all consume our healthcare in the future.
eyeforpharma 2019 firmly set its stake in the ground with an opening session entitled ‘Medicine is just the beginning: Five bold predictions for what comes next’ led by eyeforpharma Chair, Paul Sims.
This thought-provoking and, in some minds, controversial opener discussed transformations in the way we access healthcare; services such as Amazon Health, virtual GPs and patient-created medicine that make treatments available to previously impossible to reach patient groups, all considering the possibility of Pharma as we know it becoming irrelevant in the healthcare advancement story.
The response in the room was mixed, but the session very much set the tone for the rest of the conference with many speakers picking up this thread over the next three days.
And it got me thinking…will we really switch from patient to consumer when it comes to healthcare?
With companies such as Amazon Prime offering almost instant access to everything you could ever need, surely we are only one step away from ‘consuming’ our healthcare in the same way? The structure of Amazon’s healthcare venture, Haven, as a non-profit company will allow it to offer healthcare on a huge scale. And it offers us, the patient, the opportunity to access our healthcare through a subscription, making us proactive rather than reactive in our wellness.
This change is further supported by the growth of the virtual consultation. We have seen companies such as Ping An boom in China with an estimated 1 billon virtual consultations taking place last year. The principle of Ping An allows patients to access treatment though a consultation within a AI-power booth. By answering a series of questions, the computer diagnoses your issue and prescribe a treatment, which is dispensed via a vending machine attached to the booth. End to end service, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Could this be the answer to GP waiting times in the UK? I, like many of the attendees at eyeforpharma, am not so sure when we look at the reception developments like Babylon for the NHS, which offers online consultations with GPs, has received.
What is for sure, and this was apparent from the feeling throughout conference, is that change is coming. What that change looks like is still be determined. But whatever happens, the pharmaceutical industry needs to be at the forefront to avoid getting left behind.