Systems Thinking is Our Future
By: Brian Kelly, MD | November 19, 2013
A systems-oriented approach to healthcare isn’t about giving away proprietary information. It’s about creating a more collaborative environment that engages stakeholders to focus on the end goal – getting better treatments to patients.
When healthcare stakeholders operate in isolation – which is their current favorite business model — they make choices that benefit themselves, often at the expense of the broader industry. Where collaborative groups might successfully pursue cost-cutting measures or goals to improve overall care, individual entities are more likely to focus on shifting costs to other stakeholders or fighting to restrict, rather than improve, the variety of healthcare treatment options. This may deliver short term benefits to them, but in the long term it erodes the overall value of the treatments they develop and reduces efficiencies while adding costs and risks to the entire process.
Working collaboratively in a systems-oriented environment, allows companies to spread the cost and risks of innovative development steps while taking advantage of a broader knowledge base and skill set. More importantly, it brings the greatest minds from leading organizations together to channel their expertise toward common goals. These pairings are the most effective way to achieve advances in healthcare process, and to deliver leading-edge treatments that drive financial and business success.
Transitioning to a systems-oriented approach will be challenging, for biopharmaceutical companies in particular, but it is a necessary transition if they want to stay relevant and profitable in the future healthcare environment. Economic pressures and growing demand for more robust proof of value mean it is no longer enough for a biopharma company to show the safety and efficacy of a new drug. They also have to demonstrate financial value, and provide payers, providers and patients with valid justification for a price – or risk forfeiting support for that product.
Healthcare stakeholders recognize that this is the inevitable future, but they are stubbornly slow to embrace it. In our recent survey, all healthcare industry executives talked about the benefits of collaboration, alignment, and cross-industry partnerships, yet less than 20 percent of them said they were ‘mostly aligned’ with other stakeholders, while one-fourth view themselves as not aligned.
However, they are optimistic about the future. Almost all of the executives surveyed said they expect to be at least somewhat aligned with other stakeholder groups in the near future. The question now, is which ones will lead the pack?
In the next three-to-five years, the organizations that aggressively adapt their processes to a systems-oriented approach will gain a competitive advantage -- and those that delay will find their position in the marketplace dramatically and expensively redefined. Time will tell who will take the lead in this transformative era.
You can learn more about our survey regarding the industry’s move to a systems-thinking environment by downloading The Collaboration Mandate.