Last week, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC), convened a high-level forum to identify the central role for business as partners in bringing innovative solutions in health and well-being. The business community understand the importance of health, and it can bring benefits and opportunities that will make societies healthier and economies more productive. At the forum participants called on the OECD governments to work with business as an important stakeholder to tackle today’s health challenges. Speakers identified key priorities and potential solutions for governments to improve the productivity of economies and well-being of populations which included the following:
- using business collaboration to respond faster to changing consumer and societal needs;
- scaling up partnerships for promoting healthy lifestyles and behaviors; and
- developing sustainable healthcare systems that leverage private sector-led innovations.
“This first dialogue of its kind brought together senior representatives from government, the OECD, and the private sector, as well as leading experts in health and well-being working together to improve understanding of current global health challenges and identify effective policy recommendations,” said Helen Medina, USCIB’s vice president for product policy and innovation.
The two-day event featured over 20 speakers that included the following USCIB members:
- Dr. Bernard Prigent, Head of Medical Affairs Europe, Pfizer Inc.;
- Dr. Jorg Spieldenner, Head of Public Health Nutrition, Nestle Research Center
- Jon Woods, General Manager, Great Britain and Ireland, The Coca-Cola Company.
During the first day, the audience learned how the food and drink industries are investing in product formulation and medical nutrition to deliver healthier products for consumers. Industry also demonstrated that is it committed to responsible marketing approaches in communicating with consumers to do its part in promoting healthy lifestyle choices. As employers, speakers discussed the importance of offering wellness programs, which empower populations and increase productivity.
“Because there is no silver bullet to dealing with chronic diseases, working in partnership with governments and community stakeholders is crucial, as are holistic educational programs that encourage physical activity and healthy life styles throughout ones’ life span,” Medina said.
The second day focused on policies that encourage sustainable healthcare systems. The audience was reminded that 21st healthcare systems must be patient-centered to be effective while also integrating digital technologies to make strides in disease prevention and management. Better cooperation with all stakeholders and integration of key technologies, such as big data, telemedicine and electronic health records can greatly improve the measurement and utilization of health outcomes, leading to improved health outcomes for patients while maintaining financial sustainability of healthcare systems through reduced waste and optimal resource allocation.
With regards to non-communicable diseases, today’s largest cause of mortality across OECD countries, panelists said there’s a need for rapid access to new therapies and innovations to reduce the disease burden. Achieving fast access and managed introduction of new technologies in healthcare systems requires new and innovative solutions, including payment and funding schemes, through cooperation between all stakeholders such as regulatory authorities, payers, health technology assessment agencies, healthcare providers and industry.
New technologies are critical to finding solutions for health challengs but equally important is striking a balance between encouraging innovation and access to new medicines. On this item, engaging all stakeholders in the conversation is a must. The innovation ecosystem is changing, and the private sector is providing new products and services to respond to global health challenges, including ageing and other unmet needs. The pharmaceutical R&D model of innovation is also evolving. Health should be included in all policies, and governments need to strengthen collaboration with the private sector to achieve better patient outcomes. New technologies are still needed to overcome future health challenges, and private sector investments focusing on unmet health needs, with the patient in the center, should be encouraged from a broader policy framework.
The BIAC Health and Wellness Forum was moderated by Riz Khan a well-known CNN reporter. For more information, contact Helen Medina.