Can data-driven partnerships solve the health innovation crisis?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has placed national health systems under tremendous stress. Itโ€™s clear we need to find new ways to deliver healthcare which are sustainable in the long-term and provide some protection against future pandemics.

What does that mean in practice?

Innovation is key

Innovation is the only way to achieve sustainability, yet unfortunately health systems were not geared to innovate. They were designed to treat people who are sick, which they (mostly) do very well. And as populations have grown older, and chronic diseases grown more prevalent, these systems have been operating at capacity for some time across many countries in Europe.

Partnerships between health systems and private companies could help solve the health innovation crisis. These partnerships allow health systems to identify the unmet need or medical opportunity โ€“ be it a need for new diagnostics, treatments, medical devices, or software โ€“ and pass that knowledge onto companies with the time and resources to make these ideas reality. The specialised expertise within private companies also means ideas and innovation can be scaled up beyond single hospitals, benefitting health systems and societies across countries or regions.

COVID-19 has shown the need (and indeed, the ability) to innovate in record time, at scale, and has unleashed an unprecedented level of global collaboration and partnership. The Innovative Medicines Initiative, an ongoing partnership between the EU and the European Pharmaceutical industry, is providing fast-tracked funding from a โ‚ฌ72 million pot for projects focusing on diagnostics, treatments, and preparation for future coronavirus outbreaks. New global public health and private sector partnerships to respond to the current pandemic continue to be announced by public health actors such as the World Health Organization and the USโ€™s National Institutes of Health.

Data are essential for innovation

Innovation cannot take place without data. The health data for a single individual will benefit that individual. However, the aggregated data of many individuals benefits society, driving innovation that has the potential to improve services, reduce development times, deliver wider or faster patient access, or more cost-effective treatments.

As part of the Genomics England team that initiated the Discovery Forum, Iโ€™ve seen first-hand how partners from industry, academia and the NHS, can work together on large-scale data collaborations to transform patient outcomes and healthcare systems. Partners are granted access to data from the 100,000 Genomes Project โ€“ including whole genome sequences and linked patient medical records โ€“ and in exchange can share the results of their analyses. This mutually beneficial partnership allows Genomics England to utilise industry expertise and cutting-edge technology, private partners to access high quality data and a link to patients, and patients to benefit from advances in diagnostics and treatment.

Maintaining trust and transparency

Public-Private partnerships created in response to COVID-19 have increased public trust in private organisations and pave the way for future collaborations. It is essential that trust and transparency are maintained; individuals who share their data must be able to trace how their data are being used and who is using them. The future of healthcare is healthcare for the greater good, and individuals must be empowered to make the trade-off.

As individuals we are custodians of our own data, but these data are useless unless they are shared with innovators. Aggregating data allows us to see trends. When we see trends we can make predictions. And when we make predictions, we can start to futureproof health systems.



Join me on Wednesday 10 June for Episode 2 in the 'Building Resilient Health Systems' webinar series where I will be discussing โ€˜Data-driven solutions for a post-COVID worldโ€™ with experts from Latin America, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.


When: Wednesday 10 June 2020

Time: 15:00-16:00 CET

Register here today! 


Prof. Joanne Hackett is General Partner, Healthcare at IZY Capital and a member of the FutureProofing Healthcare Expert Panel. Joanne was previously Chief Commercial Officer for Genomics England.


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