In anticipation of HealthWorld 2022, to be held this coming October under the theme “The Healthcare System in the 4th Industrial Revolution Era”, Business Partners invited members of AmChamGR’s Medical Device and Diagnostics (MD&D) and Pharmaceutical Committees to participate in this issue’s Thought Leaders feature: Healthcare Revolutionized.
Sharing their thoughts on the impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution in the sector, our Thought Leaders in Healthcare discuss a range of developments and issues facing healthcare today, as well as their respective companies and organizations, including changes in the healthcare landscape, the transformation of therapeutic approaches, the need to push forward with establishing new communication schemes between healthcare professionals and patients, and the new paths that must be forged for efficiently structuring/organizing and managing healthcare systems in Greece and around the world. The articles further touch on key topics such as digitalization in healthcare, public health policy, biotechnology, the role of patients, and the role of the healthcare industry in driving the expansion of the country’s new development model.
The Digitalization of Healthcare
By Pascal Apostolides, President and Managing Director, AbbVie Greece, Cyprus and Malta
The 4th Industrial Revolution is changing the way health is understood, causing a paradigm shift in the methods of treatment and diagnosis, in the relationship between health professionals and patients, as well as in the management and organization of healthcare systems. New technologies and digitalization are the most important factors in this radical transformation that empower patients to progressively assume their role as consumers of health services. The objective of Healthcare 4.0 is to provide patients with better, more value-added and cost-effective healthcare services, enhance the healthcare experience and improve the industry’s efficacy and efficiency. The internet of health things, medical cyber-physical systems, health cloud, big data analytics, machine learning, blockchain, and smart algorithms are some of the breakthroughs that are leading to an exponential rate of change in healthcare.
Today, there is a set of new tools and opportunities to forward the digitalization of the Greek healthcare system
In this new era, Greece should capture the digital opportunity. Because today, there is a set of new tools and opportunities to forward the digitalization of the Greek healthcare system. The National Recovery and Resilience Plan represents a unique financing opportunity for the digitalization of healthcare and the improvement of current infrastructure; the European Health Data Space and best practices from other member states provide the framework for the exploitation of health data and RWE research. Likewise, new digital tools allow virtual and remote care, ensuring access to health services for all and a transfer of healthcare from the hospital to the patient’s premises. Finally, the necessary upgrade and interoperability of current platforms will allow effective budget management and data driven decision-making.
In recent years, progress in science and technology, such as the development of solutions across the care pathway (e.g. diagnostic tools, treatment options, wearables), has enabled new integrated approaches that can create value for patients and healthcare systems.
Greece needs to significantly improve its readiness for PHC and secondary use of data
Personalized healthcare (PHC) is an approach that combines pioneering science, data, analytics, and technology to advance discoveries and improve patients’ lives. By integrating different solutions to fit specific patients and their needs, PHC can ensure better outcomes regarding diagnosis, treatment and monitoring, enabling at the same time significant healthcare efficiencies and improvements. These benefits can be realized in healthcare systems that are data and value-driven: with data guiding informed clinical decisions, and a reimbursement culture that focuses on the value of outcomes, rather than cost. Essential in this effort is the secondary use of health data from population-level sources, such as electronic health records and health insurance claims that can be used to improve personal care planning, medicines development and policy making.
Greece needs to significantly improve its readiness for PHC and secondary use of data. This means that we need to invest more in the development of the necessary infrastructure for data collection and analysis, while ensuring access to data that is already available and adopting a value-based culture in healthcare.
Roche is ready to support this transition, by sharing its global knowhow, co-creating pilot projects and solutions and offering digital tools. By working collaboratively with all stakeholders, personalized healthcare can become a reality, delivering true value for patients and society.
Accelerating the Transition Towards a More Sustainable and Resilient Healthcare Environment
By Antonino Biroccio, VP and General Manager, GSK Greece
As the newly appointed General Manager for GSK Greece, I am happy to be back in the country, which feels like home to me. Thanks to my previous experience in GSK Greece in 2016-2018, I am familiar with the domestic pharmaceutical landscape and can see that significant progress has been made in health over the past years.
Innovation must become a national strategy
The pandemic brought about long overdue reforms in healthcare and pharma and became an accelerant for change. If it has a silver lining, it is this legacy of embracing real-data use and a digital mindset, while it also highlighted the value of vaccination and a new culture of prevention, which should not be left untapped. Focus on vaccination policies can protect both the public health and the healthcare system from the aggravating clinical and economic burden of devastating diseases. Other positive steps include the establishment of the HTA Committee and the subsequent concrete improvements in the reimbursement procedures as well as the incentivization for investment attraction in Greece.
Yet there are still challenges that must be overcome in order to achieve predictability and sustainability for the healthcare system. Innovation must become a national strategy. Clawback must be reformed and a viable pharma expenditure secured, combined with fully operational and efficient mechanisms to ensure informed, data-driven decisionmaking that can lead to more efficient spending and improved patient outcomes.
Capitalizing on my extensive international experience, I personally, and GSK as a whole, remain committed to fostering more partnerships aiming to contribute with sustainable solutions to strengthen the healthcare system and help health innovations reach patients all over Greece.
Digitalization as the Ultimate Change Enabler
By Savas Charalampidis, General Manager, Gilead Sciences Hellas
Digitalization has always been perceived as an enabler of great things in healthcare planning and delivery—from epidemiological modeling and monitoring to dynamic budgeting and real-time understanding of demand and supply and real-world patient outcomes—one that, in the Greek National Health System, we had long aspired to but had never quite got closer to. It always felt as if we were trying to move the dinosaur of bureaucracy forward, and failing over and over again. But then again, who can move a dinosaur?
Digitalization has always been perceived as an enabler of great things in healthcare
And then Covid-19 broke out… Overnight, the forces of modernization, simplification and change were unleashed. Digitalization sustained care delivery and fed collective resilience; it was an unlikely gift of the times. And the question now in front of us is this: How do we capitalize on such a gift? How do we ensure it does not deflate over time, its luster lost and its potential cut short because we are back to not-moving the dinosaur?
Standardization is what we should seek. Standardization of care processes and care pathways, of human resources that will deliver such care and of infrastructure that will support it. Standardization that is driven by clinical excellence and is auditable, in order to embed a culture of transparency and accountability. That allows forecasting of capacity and gaps in meeting projected needs. That embeds digitalization to enable removal of unnecessary bureaucratic steps, optimize available resources and maximize return on investment. Standardization goes hand in hand with digitalization. And it may be our only chance to finally enable change.
Collaboration, the Cornerstone of Resilience
By Elena Chouliara, President and Managing Director, ΑstraZeneca Greece and Cyprus
Pre-pandemic, many healthcare systems around the world were already struggling to contain costs and meet demand amid aging and growing populations, a rise in non-communicable diseases, as well as workforce-related and other challenges. The pandemic further exacerbated these issues and starkly exposed weaknesses in health systems. Moreover, the current multilevel crisis after the war in Ukraine intensified the need to deliver sustainable solutions.
Building resilient healthcare systems is the most valuable investment for all of us
Under these circumstances, a necessary precondition for building and strengthening our healthcare systems in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution is the constant and effective cooperation of all stakeholders involved. At AstraZeneca, leading the transformation of healthcare delivery is a priority. Our contribution during the Covid-19 era is proof of this commitment. However, meeting such goals is a collaborative challenge. We must all set and secure stable partnerships if we hope to achieve equal and uninterrupted access of all patients to innovative current and future treatments.
A key issue in this direction is the maximization of the benefits we may enjoy through proper utilization of all available data. There are plenty of examples that highlight this necessity. And we are focusing on participating in such initiatives worldwide and supporting relevant efforts which secure, considerable longterm benefits for patients and sustainable treatment costs.
Building resilient healthcare systems through a well-organized cooperative model based on all available tools of our digital era should be considered the most valuable investment for all of us. Let this be our significant contribution for the next generations.
How R&D Is Driving the Transformation of Healthcare
By Susan King-Barnardo, Managing Director / General Manager, Merck Greece and Cyprus
The 4th Industrial Revolution is changing the way health is understood, transforming the methods of diagnosis and treatment as well as the relationship between healthcare professionals and patients and altering the management and organization of health systems.
Change will continue to be a constant in the healthcare system
For one, today’s markets have become increasingly competitive and unpredictable, with demands growing and customers becoming more selective; 79% of companies are reinventing their business model as a result of the pandemic, which also accelerated digital transformation, thus boosting innovation, increasing efficiency and improving products and services.
Meanwhile, specialty medicine is set to outpace traditional drugs. Globally, specialty medicines are projected to represent 45% of global medicines spending by 2025, with more than half of the spending on these products in major developed markets.*
And of course, science and innovation are increasingly recognized worldwide as drivers of economic and social prosperity. In fact, two-thirds of economic growth in Europe is derived from research and development investments. R&D efforts in the pharmaceuticals and biotech industry are continuously developing breakthrough innovations for unmet medical needs across disease areas, thereby contributing to a robust industry, and generating highly qualified employment opportunities which are drivers of economic growth.
One thing is for sure, change will continue to be a constant in the healthcare system, hence effective and efficient implementation of innovation and new technologies is essential, and interaction between government, healthcare professionals, stakeholders, and society is paramount for the future.
* Source: “The Global Bio/Pharma Market: Where’s the Growth?” DCAT Value Chain Insights
Reimagining Medicine Through Innovation and Collaboration
By Susanne Kohout, Country President, Novartis Hellas
With faster medical advancements, new medical approaches and topnotch healthcare treatments becoming accessible to everyone, the 4th Industrial Revolution will have an unprecedented impact on healthcare, a technology-oriented industry in which innovations that can improve the quality of patient care are rapidly adopted.
Time for all of us to re-write a new social contract for health, where all stakeholders commit on key priorities & obligations
Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. Using innovative science and digital technologies, we create transformative treatments in areas of great unmet medical need. We support innovation in our pipeline and technology, including cell and gene therapies, which are the future of medicine since they can offer patients targeted personalized treatment with vast therapeutical results.
Healthcare is also a fundamental pillar of the economy, and cooperation with external innovators is vital to generate a sustainable future. At Novartis, we honor our strong commitment to increasing access to innovative medicines through pioneering partnerships with national health systems, while via collaborations with tech leaders such as Hewlett Packard Enterprises, we aim to accelerate the use of data and digital technologies to reimagine global health and improve healthcare access, as well. Some strong elements are already in place that make Greece a unique landscape for breakthrough solutions in disease prevention and management, not least the “Spyros Doxiadis” National Public Health Prevention Program. Equally important are the foundations in place for further development of digitalization in healthcare. Moving forward, we must fundamentally reimagine the way we work and create a culture that brings out the best in our people to fulfill our purpose of reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives.
Connecting the Dots from Diagnosis to Cure
By Nikos Kourentzis, Country Head Radiology GR/CY/IL/MT/RO/BG/MD, Bayer Hellas
Health should be accessible regardless of heritage, education, or income. For us at Bayer, working towards health equity means overcoming healthcare system challenges and empowering everyone to live a healthier, happier life. Digital health can help us drive equity and access and make our healthcare systems more sustainable. A bright example is the future role of AI in radiology. With aging populations and changing lifestyles leading to an increase in chronic conditions, the demand for medical imaging to facilitate diagnosis, treatment decisions and therapy planning is growing exponentially. Yet medical imaging data is increasing and becoming ever more complex at a disproportionate rate compared to the number of available trained readers. To tackle the challenges arising from this, we must combine human expertise and intelligence with the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence.
Digital health can help us drive equity and access
At Bayer, our ambition is to assist healthcare professionals in making informed decisions at critical steps within a patient’s journey, by connecting the dots along the way. This is why we are launching a digital platform through which healthcare professionals can centrally manage digital clinical imaging and workflow applications including AI-enabled solutions. Integrated into the medical imaging workflow of the existing picture archiving communication system (PACS) and radiology information system (RIS) environment by our platform, these offerings will support healthcare professionals in making complex decisions and providing clear direction from diagnosis to care. In Greece, through our Healthcare Accelerator program, we aim to upgrade clinical practice by empowering healthcare professionals with innovative technologies that allow healthcare evolution from diagnosis to disease management.
A New Era for Greek Healthcare
By Theodore Liakopoulos, Managing Director, Johnson & Johnson MedTech Greece and Cyprus
As the 4th Industrial Revolution brings about technological advances that are completely transforming how we live, work and interact with one another, a digital health revolution is transforming the healthcare industry with the promise of expanding health access for all; at the same time, patient care is becoming more targeted and individualized, greatly improving its quality and effectiveness. This transformation is reshaping the management of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of patients.
A digital health revolution is transforming the healthcare industry
The Greek National Health System must use the momentum of the pandemic to upgrade outdated technology, stop relying on manual recordings and indexes and minimize bureaucracy, while designing a future for itself built on factual data rather than assumptions. We must use technology to improve the experience of healthcare for hospitals, suppliers, providers and patients. Using the new wave of digital platforms and applications for diagnosis and treatment can help optimize hospital flows, speed up processes, and enhance communication within healthcare structures, among healthcare authorities, and between healthcare professionals and patients. The spectrum of implementation is endless, including early diagnosis before symptoms, optimized treatment pathways, efficient inventory management, improved emergency response speed and readiness, reduced waiting times, optimization of hospital stay duration, lower readmission rates, improved outpatient management, and enhanced remote health.
The MedTech industry demonstrated responsiveness, standing by the healthcare system. We remain partners, connected to decisionmakers ready for change, co-creating profound value and impact throughout the healthcare journey. Together we can advance the future of healthcare in Greece and change the trajectory of health for humanity.
Going Digital: Change that Matters
By George Papadopoulos, Country Manager and Country Franchise Head, Alcon Greece
New technologies and AI applications in healthcare are allowing us to develop new service models and explore new treatment options and are affecting how health policymakers make decisions on organizations’ management and budgeting. The EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility is setting the pace by allocating 20% of RRF funding to digital transformation. In healthcare, this centers on improvements in public administration, digital enhancements to reinforce national health system capabilities, further implementation of telemedicine, and reduction of health inequalities through better access to healthcare.
We have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for truly impactful change
As a company, Alcon remains dedicated to improving the way healthcare providers can provide services to their patients and the way patients can access these and benefit from them, improving their quality of life. With over 75 years of innovation with a clear focus on ophthalmology, Alcon is at the forefront of generating digital tools and applications for providers and patients. One example, focusing on value-based healthcare, is our A-COM (Alcon-Cataract Outcomes Management) digital data-capturing platform that allows real-time monitoring of patient-centered outcomes, big data generation and performance-based funding and reimbursement schemes. Meanwhile, aiming to optimize the patient experience, we are also developing an application to seamlessly connect data systems, diagnostic devices and surgical equipment—clinic to OR, pre- to post-op—in order to help providers operate with greater efficiency, flexibility and accuracy and provide the best possible service.
At the dawn of this new era, we have the opportunity, through knowledge sharing and implementing disruptive technologies, to lay the groundwork for truly impactful change that will benefit all patients.
Bridging Current needs to Our Vision for the Future
By Elizabeth Prodromou, General Manager, Bristol Myers Squibb
The 4th Industrial Revolution is here, and it’s strongly impacting healthcare worldwide, emerging as one of the key factors in ensuring equal access to quality services and new, innovative medicines. However, the distance from vision to practice requires that we build a bridge between the strides of science and the ability of health systems to keep up and integrate those rapid advances.
We must build a bridge between the strides of science and the ability of health systems to keep up
Greece is ranked 26th among EU countries in using digital health records and 25th in electronically exchanging clinical data, highlighting the distance we must yet cover. The coming years will be marked by the emergence of a digital gap, as states unable to accelerate their pace and achieve considerable digital transformation, including AI and big data analytics, will gradually be pushed to the margins. This is a major challenge but also an opportunity for stakeholders such as the pharmaceutical industry to constructively prove our support and added value. As for Bristol Myers Squibb, our strategic positioning in this new era focuses on using digital innovation to accelerate drug discovery and development, improve manufacturing, enhance business capabilities, and advance patient care. However, we also recognize our role in the national effort to reform and restructure the National Health System by leveraging digital tools.
Greece can achieve this goal through the cooperation of all stakeholders in critical fields of digital transformation such as individual health files, therapeutic protocols, patient registries, electronic interconnection of hospitals, and telemedicine. This is the only way to bridge the needs of the present with the vision of the future and advance health equity and the system’s sustainability without wasting precious time.
Digital Transformation in Healthcare Is All About Innovation
By Zachary Ragousis, President and Managing Director, Pfizer Hellas
While health systems across the world are facing multiple challenges, one thing is clear: the future of global healthcare lies in digital—innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and augmented reality that are already transforming the relationship between patients, healthcare providers and public health systems with a more patient-centric approach. Digital transformation in the healthcare sector affects the entire patient journey, from access to healthcare to how they pay for it and how they experience the delivery of care.
The digitalization of healthcare is now more necessary than ever
Digital transformation became a priority during the pandemic, helping the pharmaceutical industry as well as national health systems to respond at a pace and scale never seen before. Innovation and pioneering technologies made possible the development of a vaccine in just nine months and a treatment in 18, processes that would have taken years under normal circumstances. Meanwhile, healthcare systems adopted digital tools not only to support the vaccine’s rollout but also to promote virtual engagement between healthcare providers and their patients. In Greece, the pandemic has accelerated the sector’s digital transformation, with the successful rollout of the Covid 19 vaccination program and the launch of the MyHealth app demonstrating that the digitalization of healthcare plays a critical role in public health and is now more necessary than ever.
Healthcare ecosystems across the world have the opportunity to leverage digital technologies and adopt more digital health tools in order to open new opportunities in medicine R&D, make healthcare more cost-effective, and build viable healthcare systems that will guarantee equal access to all.
Investing in Innovation Is Investing in the Future
By George Tousimis, Country Director, Amgen Hellas and Cyprus
There are dozens of examples that reveal the impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution on the health sector. The ability to innovate is driven by remarkable advances in science and technology. Our approach to the recent pandemic is indicative. It took us 200 years to understand the mechanism behind measles, whereas we only needed two weeks to fully analyze the genome of Covid-19.
Data and the way we are using it is driving the ability to innovate
In our digital era, data and the way we are using it is driving the ability to innovate. For example, in 2012, Amgen acquired deCODE Genetics, which at that time had accumulated detailed genetic information on approximately 100,000 people, all from deCODE’s home country of Iceland. Today we have this information for 2.5 million volunteers worldwide. It is the data that lead us to innovative medicines. And it is the need for access to innovative medicines for all patients which must lead our efforts to build a sustainable healthcare system. The key towards this direction is the functional cooperation of all stakeholders. Optima Oncology is a characteristic example: A consortium of 36 entities across Europe, comprising prestigious universities, major pharma companies, scientific societies, research institutes, data, and tech companies, as well as the European Cancer patient association, all joined forces to tackle cancer across Europe, utilizing the biggest amount of data available in Europe.
And when building on the amazing advances of science and technology, we can all be optimistic about our future, treating health innovation as an investment rather than just cost. This is a global but also a local challenge. Our common responsibility is to work together towards improving health, for the generations to come.