Champion innovative thinking for patient, provider and manufacturer value

pill bottle in handForces today are uprooting respected norms in the life sciences marketplace and industry organizations. In an environment of massive and rapid change, transformation is vital to survival and growth. In today’s environment, the value of transformation is in services and engagement. Achieving this transformation is through innovative approaches to working with others across the organization, collaborating with health care professionals and leveraging use of technology.  

Two critical areas for focus are culture and processes, and technology.

Ramp up innovation in culture and processes

Innovation has a multidisciplinary nature, says futurist and Whole Mind Strategy Group founder Eric Meade. It requires development of a process to get ideas from people across the organization and making it possible to seriously consider them. “Companies need to carve out space for creative thinking,” Meade says. “Relax mental constraints about what works today. There could be short-term budgeting for a lean startup model of a minimally viable product that could be worth investment.” Meade advises gauging what could be currently marketable and what is likely to be successful in not just three years but in five or 10 years.

“It’s a key leadership and management skill to align people to strategy and a process to figure out which innovations would work and which ones aren’t promising and should be let go, and at the same time preserve the human spark that points to really great innovations,” Meade explains.

To encourage the human spark, Lisa Walkush, national leader of Grant Thornton’s Life Sciences practice, advises researching design-thinking concepts about best practices in innovation and consulting design-thinking professionals about nurturing alternative approaches. A continuous loop of feedback from manufacturers, users and staff across products and services, as well as plants, says Grant Thornton Compliance Risk practice Principal George Serafin, can reduce complexities and drive efficiencies in creating new and improved products, services and processes.
internal processes interest for life sciences
Extend technology’s usage and reach
“Mobilize the power of technology and data,” advises Walkush. Much has been done along these lines — advanced tools such as telehealth and medical devices are a boon to many consumers. At the same time, many others are unable to take advantage of even the basics.

For technology to deliver on its intended purposes, life sciences companies need to do more than implement enhancements. They must find out how their technology measures up in terms of usability. Determine, for example, how well communications and online forms work for aging and immigrant users who weren’t raised on tech tools and terminology.

Manage risk as an innovative asset
With their increased focus on innovation, organizations are also updating their view of risk management, considering its potential beyond protection. George Serafin, principal in Grant Thornton’s Compliance Risk practice, explains: “Companies are looking not just at protection but also creating value. Risk conversations could be about innovating the profit model to impact revenue and the bottom line, or creating new partnerships between manufacturers and tech companies, or manufacturers and providers, or providers and plans — relationships that didn’t exist before and that challenge the status quo.”

Futurist Eric Meade has noted a shift in cultural orientation from avoiding risk to shaping it into an acceptable form. “There’s an opportunity for risk management to move into a leadership and business partner role,” he says. “People trying to be creative and innovative are moving back to risk conversations, as in: ‘This is the environment, things are changing quickly, and what makes the most sense today?’” A meaningful discussion will include redefining acceptable risk in order to facilitate innovation and inventive approaches.

Moving from a defensive to a positive stance is a significant change for compliance and quality groups that have historically been the lookouts for the downside. Appropriate caution must be balanced with an understanding of the new place that risk takes in a strategic plan. “The compliance group can be helpful to commercial growth, and be proactive and provide business insights,” explains Lisa Walkush, national leader of Grant Thornton’s Life Sciences practice. “They can analyze the data about potential partners. The attitude can be that we’re all in this to manage risk and grow the business.”
With health care equity at stake, Meade recommends asking these questions:

  • Does the data used for personalization reflect all racial and ethnic groups?
  • Do biases appear in the algorithms applied to the data?
  • What data-driven adjustments can be made?

To assure functionality is utilized as fully as possible, life sciences companies can choose to work collaboratively with health care provider groups, inviting them to share perspectives and priorities for improving patient experiences. One issue to be solved is the current state of information received from wearable and implanted devices; it is often simply handwritten and then transcribed into electronic health records. Making direct connection between devices and records would be a major benefit to patients, providers and manufacturers. And blockchain technology could provide secure data transmission, along with opportunities in treatment such as medication usage, clinical surveillance and clinical trials.
dr with EKG report

For transformational value, internal improvements must accelerate to match the pace of external changes. Leaders eager to question the status quo and encourage the input of individuals from within and beyond their organization will open windows to a beneficial and profitable tomorrow.

Lisa Walkush
National Leader, Life Sciences, Grant Thornton
+1 215 814 4000

George Serafin
Principal, Compliance Risk, Grant Thornton
+1 732 516 5580

Eric Meade
Futurist and Founder, Whole Mind Strategy Group