EP345: Can Pharma Imagine How Our Health System Will Look in the Future? With Paul Simms

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At the beginning of 2021, my guest in this healthcare podcast, Paul Simms, had come up with a set of predictions for 2021. Some came true; some didn’t. But I was fascinated by a bunch of things, one of them being Paul’s sort of implicit and explicit assessment of the context of these predictions. Right now, Pharma is in a weird moment: It’s a confluence of technology, consumer expectations, changes in care delivery accelerated by the pandemic, policy at the state and federal level, and the financial realities of where we’re at today. So, if you meet patients or providers or payers where they were last year or the year before that, you’re gonna potentially be pretty far off the mark.

There’s also the financial realities which Pharma kind of exacerbated for themselves when some, many, spent the past however many years making their numbers by raising prices on existing drugs and developing drugs for mostly rare diseases but then, at the same time, not innovating antibiotics or for other diseases that impact so many lives.

I mean, no comments on these strategies, but is it safe to then assume that an environment that allows for this sort of thing will continue indefinitely? Not only from an “Is this really the most patient-centric thing we can do?” standpoint, especially when you consider how many patients are being left behind as a result of both the narrow focus and also the price points—upwards of 40% of Americans have said they’ve abandoned meds due to cost, after all—but potentially also from a business continuity standpoint. Right now could be a decent time to start getting creative and experiment with new models and new ways to reach and engage.

My guest in this episode, Paul Simms, is the former chairman of eyeforpharma, which ran the largest events in the pharmaceutical space for a number of years. His new company, Impatient Health, helps a very conservative industry find ways to deliver and provide patient value.

During our conversation, Paul made a bunch of thought-provoking points; but one of them I keyed onto was a counterpoint to the ye old pharmaceutical conventional wisdom that high drug prices are needed for innovation. He said that actually all the money sloshing around could inhibit R&D innovation. Here’s the thinking: If you can make a ton of money not being super innovative, then why be innovative? If you can make a ton of money not really improving OS (overall survival) in a meaningful way and not really helping a whole lot of patients, then why bother doing anything else, especially if the “anything else” might require risk or new business models that are going to take time and determination?

During our chat, the work of Clay Christensen comes up more than once. Just to remind you, Clay Christensen is the one who coined the term disrupters. He wrote The Innovator’s Dilemma back in the 1990s. Keep in mind that the main point of that whole book is that if you’re a big incumbent, it’s pretty easy to cruise along thinking everything is great until you get kneecapped by a competitor who takes advantage of a new business model or consumer preference or technology or law—all of which are coming out of the woodwork right now. Paul Simms has put it this way: When the habitat changes, evolution happens and entities that are able to adapt will thrive. I’ve also heard it put this way: It’s not IQ or even EQ that matters most when change is afoot. It’s AQ—the ability to adapt.

You can learn more by connecting with Paul on LinkedIn.

Paul Simms is known as the “pharma provocateur” for his efforts to realize the unfulfilled potential of the life sciences industry. His journey started in 2003 with eyeforpharma, an organization which he quickly grew into the pharmaceutical industry’s most influential and largest event organizer, acquired by Reuters in 2019. He has since set up a think tank and consultancy called Impatient Health. Paul counts the industry’s CEOs and innovators amongst his friends and is a regular speaker, host, author, and commentator.

05:04 “We’re at that catalyst point where we could go one way or the other.” 05:39 How can the analogy of Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0 be applied to the future of healthcare business models? 07:06 “People need to improve their awareness at the very least as to a new generation of companies coming forward.” 08:31 “What now is the new business model that can exist in that world?” 09:07 Is there a stage pre-agility that will allow pharma companies to pivot to future markets? 12:08 What are the new ways to think about things in the future of healthcare business? 14:09 “The mind boggles at what is possible but is not yet being achieved.” 16:11 Why could prices falling actually spark more innovation? 16:49 EP300 with Bruce Rector, MD.21:36 “It’s these companies that have this data-driven consumer relationship that I think are very interesting.” 25:16 “I just think that it’s a mindset change first.” 25:38 “I’m not here to be right or wrong. I’m just here to enable the conversation.” 25:56 “What I find is that companies make significant efforts and that they don’t quite gain the same traction as quickly as they might like to.” 26:20 “It seems to be this great impatience that companies can turn around these non-medicine initiatives more quickly.” 29:42 “It seems to me that the pharmaceutical industry’s reaction to the pandemic has been, ‘We need to double down.’”

You can learn more by connecting with Paul on LinkedIn.

@xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

“We’re at that catalyst point where we could go one way or the other.” @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

“People need to improve their awareness at the very least as to a new generation of companies coming forward.” @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

“What now is the new business model that can exist in that world?” @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

Is there a stage pre-agility that will allow pharma companies to pivot to future markets? @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

What are the new ways to think about things in the future of healthcare business? @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

“The mind boggles at what is possible but is not yet being achieved.” @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

Why could prices falling actually spark more innovation? @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

“It’s these companies that have this data-driven consumer relationship that I think are very interesting.” @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

“I just think that it’s a mindset change first.” @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

“I’m not here to be right or wrong. I’m just here to enable the conversation.” @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

“What I find is that companies make significant efforts and that they don’t quite gain the same traction as quickly as they might like to.” @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

“It seems to be this great impatience that companies can turn around these non-medicine initiatives more quickly.” @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

“It seems to me that the pharmaceutical industry’s reaction to the pandemic has been, ‘We need to double down.’” @xpablo of @HealthImpatient discusses the future of #pharma in our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #pharmahealth

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