The Implication for the Healthcare Ecosystem
We at Siemens are collaborating with various government agencies to demonstrate the value of creating virtual representations of a smart factory, whether it be a medical device or a pharmaceutical. Think about a modular home. You pick this design and have it dropped onto a flatbed and delivered to your property. We are doing the same thing – how do we do a drop in a smart manufacturing facility to a new geography, in a safe and cost-effective way? We are investing heavily to figure out how to solve these problems in a larger and more economical capacity.
Given the complex life sciences ecosystem that comprises providers, vendors, and regulatory bodies, we have created a “safe space” to collaborate with various stakeholders on these solutions. We are breaking down barriers, creating a collaborative safe space between the regulatory body and the regulated entity, so we can get solutions to the market faster. Many of the leading medical device and diagnostics manufacturers are collaborating with us and the FDA on different projects related to digitalization. While FDA’s Case for Quality helped create an opportunity for engagement, the current pandemic has accelerated the need for collaboration to work on these types of initiatives. Speed is critical, and we can’t have entities working against each other. This is getting to the true intent of regulation – keeping patients safe and healthy, which means ensuring availability of critical medical supplies and getting potential cures to market faster.
In the future, we will also see a tighter coupling of the various technology sectors in healthcare. Collaboration between human genome, pharmaceuticals, and medical device companies will get to breakthrough solutions delivered to the population more rapidly. The gaps we see in these fields of expertise is slowing down our response to the pandemic, and the industry is recognizing this. We will be seeing much better cross-pollination in the future, with these sectors coming together more intimately during the design and production process. Once we get a vaccine that has been simulated with human DNA, we need the syringes to deliver it on a massive scale.
Having the entire network available to make the treatment is a massive trend that will help everyone. We are driving towards patient-specific outcomes, personalization of treatment. That promises better outcomes for patients, but also helps manufacturers reduce inventory. It reduces the overall cost of healthcare if payors don’t pay for a second or third treatment. It is better for doctors and hospitals because they can accommodate more patients, which drives revenue and margin. It is a win-win across quality and cost, ultimately resulting in a more efficient healthcare system. Most importantly for the future, how do we intimately connect this whole ecosystem – maintaining a true digital thread across the various sectors. It will allow us to be faster, more agile, and more able to meet the needs of our patients. If we can connect everything digitally and intelligently, if another pandemic comes, hospitals will be ready with the needed capacity, doctors will be ready with the appropriate protective gear to keep them safe, vaccines will be rapidly developed, manufacturers will ramp up production of needed equipment. If we leverage the technology at our fingertips today, all of this can be done quickly.