Bayer CDO: How a fragmented healthcare market incubates innovation

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Digital health's fragmented market affects how different countries obtain and use data - the lifeline of Heath Tech. Innovation, however, can arise in the most unlikely of places.

Digital health is allowing us to use the most effective and up-to-date technologies to complement the science of a range of verticals, all within the healthcare industry.

Wearables and consumer-facing start-ups, digital diagnostic tools, or connected health community organizations, are all able to benefit from the digital shift that has already revolutionized banking, online retail, and travel.

Within the pharmaceutical industry, this innovation is helping to empower a shift away from a quantitative sales focus model, to one that concentrates on product quality, customer satisfaction, and value creation.

These technologies and innovative methods are all borne out of the data revolution, which is offering deeper insights on a range of analytical and behavioral attributes that we can apply to developing medicines and research.

Bayer, along with the entire sector, is excited to be able to improve the quality of its products as a result.


The Healthcare Fragmentation Challenge

What we, in the healthcare (and growing digital health) sector, have to contend with however, is a challenge to how we gather, measure, utilize and publicize the data we need to continue to evolve.

The efficacy and ethical nature of healthcare’s data, or collection of personal information, is a necessary step that every business in our field must ensure – from international pharmaceuticals to emerging startups, EU data privacy legislation is leveling the playing field – and Bayer now has a Data Privacy Officer as a result.

Legislation on data is EU wide, but its interpretations are not so evenly distributed amongst regions and countries.

The fragmentation of healthcare has seriously influenced the growth of the market, existing as both a positive and a negative force for healthcare stakeholders.

In Germany, an IP address counts as personally identifying information, and so companies are very restricted with what it can do with that data, compared to the US for example. UK data privacy laws versus that of Turkey shows a marked contrast of how governments interpret regional regulations, and what countries consider as priorities.

Negotiating investments, utilizing data and information, managing data storage, controlling privacy, and ameliorating risk are all made harder still when the regulatory framework develops.

That’s because regulations have to evolve with the space they are created to protect and control: if eCommerce, and the internet, are rewriting the rules of business interactions and transactions, framework infrastructure is changing (at a slower pace) to keep up.

This makes it difficult for large organizations to operate internationally and efficiently, and smaller, high growth, companies must adhere to new rules for each new region it enters.

On the other hand, a fragmented market incubates fistfuls of innovation.

Each regulatory approach taken by a country has an impact on the market, leading to spurts of development in a particular vertical like consumer technology in London, versus more innovation in diagnostic research in Germany, for example.

Healthcare fragmentation leads to experimentation, especially as digital health is still in an evolutionary phase – any complications that the industry is seeing are growing pains as we gain more experience of what works, and what doesn’t.

Once we realize and reduce our mistakes, a more homogeneous environment can begin to take shape.


Bayer’s Approach

Ensuring that you continue to innovate in a highly fragmented environment is the key to survival in digital health.

I have always believed that the customer is in the best position to direct the market, so aligning ourselves with them, to be close to them in each region, means you can stay on top of their wishes and demands.

Bayer.com has an Innovate area to the site now, allowing visitors to share in the Bayer life sciences journey.

Creating an open and collaborative element to our strategy also has the advantage of benefiting from a collective intelligence, strengthening our network of customers and workforce.

The site asks for information on you: who are you? A student, professor, entrepreneur?; What are you interested in doing?; What at Bayer most excites you – with a drop down list they can choose from.

It has helped us to personalize some of the 120,000 employee connections we have in Europe. Because one of Bayer’s core cultural elements is experimentation, it’s an area of the healthcare fragmentation that we have really embraced to ensure our own large (and fragmented) workforce stay connected and innovative in their own fields.

The healthcare fragmentation challenge shouldn’t scare away potential new developments in this exciting industry, but it does provide certain – often necessary – hurdles to allow the area to innovate in a healthy manner.