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How the New Era of Medicine is Disrupting Health Care

We are on the cusp of a major, positive disruption in the U.S. health care system due in part to the exponential growth in clinical data, advent and incorporation of artificial intelligence and the increasing realignment of the health care sector. But, as the past half century has shown, disruption has also come from innovations that have altered the course of human history. In this new era of medicine, we need a health system that can provide patients with affordable access to innovative therapies.

PhRMA convened a panel of thought leaders at the Wall Street Journal Health Forum to discuss how today’s biopharmaceutical innovations are reshaping patient care and how we can advance our health system to keep pace with the science.

"It's never been a more exciting time to be in the life sciences industry because of the deeper understanding, this ability to harness more and more data," said Jack Bailey, president of U.S. pharmaceuticals at GSK. He was joined by Dr. Amy Abernethy of Flatiron Health, Murray Aitken, executive director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science and Susan Dentzer of the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI).

But as Aitken pointed out, "That surge of innovation brings with it an enormous amount of complexity—how do you deal with these alternatives?" The other panelists agreed, adding that the current challenge for all health care stakeholders is to ensure that our health system can keep up with the pace of innovation. Dentzer noted, "There's a big gap between what we're able to do in science, what we understand in science and what the current health care delivery system can actually deliver."

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The panelists, however, are optimistic about our ability to advance our health system. According to Abernethy, what we’re going to see is not only innovation in biology, but "innovation in evidence" that will improve both the development and delivery of new medicines. For Bailey, it’s the movement toward, "a lot more collaboration, a lot more partnerships" across the health care continuum that is particularly exciting, including the growing use of value-based contracts (also known as results-based contracts), which are an innovative approach to paying for medicines that often involve greater risk-sharing among payers and biopharmaceutical companies to improve patient access.

And ultimately, as Bailey noted, patients should be the focus of our efforts to transform our system for the better: "As we try to connect this incredible innovation that we have with a health care system that needs to catch up—don't lose sight of the patient. Otherwise we’ve lost the whole purpose of what we’re trying to change."

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