The Urgent Need for Extreme Collaboration in Health Care
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
When you think about the gains in life expectancy and quality in the past 50 years, much of it has come as a result of scientific and medical progress through revolutionary advancements such as vaccines and antibiotics. Society made great strides against disease as a result of collaboration across multiple stakeholders – governments, academic institutions, industry, advocacy organizations and many others who worked together to achieve a common goal of bringing years of life and quality of life to people all around the world.
Today, as we think about the major healthcare challenges yet to be solved – Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV -- the solution lies once again in extreme collaboration.
This weekend, I chaired a meeting of the most senior R&D executives across the top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the world, as well as other key government and NGO leaders dedicated to advancing the trajectory of health for humanity. This group comes together once a year to align and drive action around key topics in health that are so immense that no one organization can solve them alone – challenges like mental health, cancer and anti-microbial resistance (AMR), among others.
These healthcare challenges cannot be solved by just one organization. Their complexity and massive scale will require us to harness all the latest science and technology, and work together in new and unusual ways. If they remain unsolved, these diseases will have an enormous detrimental impact not only on individuals and families, but on communities and entire economies. For example, it is estimated that 50 million people in 2017 were living with dementia, a number expected to rise to 75 million by 2030 and reach 131.5 million in 2050. The total estimated worldwide cost of dementia was $818 billion in 2015, and was expected to rise above a US $trillion by 2018. The world simply cannot afford to leave these challenges unsolved.
The good news is that there are amazing advancements in science and technology that have been developed in recent years by academic institutions, industry and start-ups that are allowing us to accelerate solutions. And, there is commitment at the highest levels to experiment in how we partner and finance innovation, and how we deliver new solutions to people everywhere in the world.
Just one example this week is the establishment of the new JLABS incubator, JLABS @ Washington, DC, in our nation’s capital, in collaboration with Children’s National Health System, to fuel innovation in the region and drive discoveries that will benefit the health of children and people of all ages. The JLABS model was established more than five years ago by Johnson & Johnson and has been tremendously successful in enabling start-up life sciences companies to speed the development of their ideas. With JLABS @ Washington, DC we are excited to be co-located in a one-of-a-kind facility with many other groups that are doing important work to drive new solutions. For example, we are already set to collaborate with BARDA – the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, on an innovation unit within JLABS focused on public health and infectious diseases research. This is just one of many new collaborations being formed across various groups to fuel new ideas and harness diverse perspectives.
Ultimately, each of us hopes to see a future where many serious diseases are a thing of the past, and where every individual, wherever they are in the world, can live a full and productive life. It will require hard work, innovative thinking, and extreme collaboration to harness the best talent, ideas and resources to make a true impact. The reward is a healthier future for all of us.