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Learning from the data and co-creation are pivotal to developing disruptive healthcare solutions for the future

The drive to a future where healthcare is available to all and with equal access is building significant momentum. It’s poised to positively disrupt the relationships between innovative pharmaceutical companies, key stakeholders and healthcare systems. By using data to co-create, we can show Europe what is possible and start the journey.

Those of us who work in healthcare know we are on the cusp of an extraordinary revolution both in terms of how we treat patients and how we empower and enable them to take greater control of their own health. However, it’s a revolution that requires more than a haphazard introduction of new methodologies.

We need a bold long-term vision if we are to create sustainable healthcare systems across Europe that cater to today’s and future generations’ needs. Pivotal to this, is learning from each other’s best practice, sharing what works and what does not and the co-creation of disruptive solutions. We can’t simply bolt new solutions onto old systems.

Today’s technological and medical breakthroughs should inspire us to refashion healthcare systems by forcing us to reconsider how well they truly function now and how they can be made more sustainable for the future. Futureproofing Healthcare: The Sustainability Index, an initiative that I spearheaded, along with a dedicated team of colleagues at Roche, can play a vital role in this.

When politicians, stakeholders and healthcare professionals talk about change they don’t always back it up with concrete and practical suggestions. That’s often because the data isn’t there to show what works, why it works and how it works.

The Index aggregates public data on a hitherto unprecedented scale. It measures everything from access to treatment to speed of diagnosis; impact of socio-economic environment to palliative care; use of innovation to preventative medicine. In addition, for the 2018 launch year, the Index has focused on the patient journey when faced with breast cancer.

The data has been rigorously assessed by a panel of healthcare experts who have helped to validate the credibility of the data and the strength of the Index. The Index will continue to be improved in its next iterations but is a valuable start in a co-ordinated drive to inspire change.

Importantly, the Index measures not against an ideal but against the EU norm and there is no weighting on the measurements. So, palliative care is as important as treatment, culture and lifestyle as important as diagnosis. We wanted to make it as fair and broad as possible, analysing how different aspects impact on people’s health.

The intention is not to rank countries in a league table of performance, although some countries do out-perform others across the board. Rather, it is more valuable to understand why certain countries are leading the way in some areas, and other countries in other areas. It is this that will encourage constructive dialogue and the sharing of best practices to make improvements that are necessary for a more sustainable future.

Nuanced comparisons mean we can have more informed discussions about how we can help each other to close the gaps; how we can co-create long-term solutions; and how we can use resources and complementary skills more efficiently to tackle society’s most pressing issues.

Most of all, it means listening. As much as anything, the Index is a listening project and the opportunity to learn from others. This is why Roche is so committed to it. As a company, we are as motivated by prevention as much as cure, diagnostics as much as medicines. We know that binary discussions about cost don’t benefit patients because they don’t tackle the fundamentals of the healthcare systems in which we all operate.

Nothing is more important than the patient. That’s sometimes the mistake people make about so-called “’big pharma”’, thinking we neglect people at the expense of profit. All of us who work in the industry are patients, are related to patients, have friends who are patients.

We know that what we do each day has a profound effect on society, and by listening to others we are more able to make the right choices, challenge the status quo and save lives.

As a pharmaceutical leader, we have a responsibility to shift mindsets and pioneer new ways of working. Because the Index gets to the heart of the patient experience, it will encourage decision-makers across the continent to discuss the future by analysing the present.

By measuring and understanding where we are, we can have more informed debates about where we want to go, what sustainability means for different societies and how we can get there, no matter where people live or what their backgrounds are.

The data is open to the public and we take an agnostic view of the findings, which means we can see things beyond our own perspective. That openness to critique, improvements and corrections enables more honest discussions about what will really add value to patients’ lives, beyond the assumptions and preconceptions that so often cloud the debate.

However, listening only works if it leads to collaborative action. To do this, we need to forge close partnerships with different stakeholders. Such co-creation goes to the heart of Roche’s culture. Patients’ groups, politicians, medics, nurses, business leaders, technology disrupters – all of us have come together to lead this systemic revolution. Knowing that together, across the 28 EU Member States, we’re more likely to find answers than if we go it alone.

Hopefully the Index can effect change on several different levels. Firstly, to have courageous debates, driven by detailed data. Secondly, to identify where the data is missing and what that tells us about the state of healthcare in Europe. Next, by analysing the data to work out how we can help some of the poorer-performing countries to leap-frog their way to offering better healthcare, instead of incrementally incorporating new techniques into old, discredited systems. And, finally, start addressing difficult questions about what we want out of healthcare, what sustainability means and what quality of life actually looks like.

Data can’t always give you those answers but it can help you make better decisions, learn what is best practice and why, and have more productive conversations about those learnings.

I’m enormously proud to have helped inspire this project and driven it with my team, all of us committed to breaking the mould, by collaborating with others taking steps to work out what is possible.

This is only the Index’s first year but what I hope everyone has already learned is that with the right data, the quality of the conversations amongst interested parties can be transformed.

If you are a true collaborative partner with a stake in the long-term, you’ll find others who are enthusiastic to discuss that with you, join you on that journey and share resources to provide the very best sustainable care for patients today and tomorrow.

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