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The Digital Healthcare Evolution


Bruno Villetelle discusses how Japanese companies like Takeda have begun to digitize in order to care for the country's aging population.

A lot happens in 60 seconds on the internet. More than 293,000 Facebook statuses are updated, 550,000 tweets are written, and 2.78 million YouTube videos are watched in this small amount of time.   Digital technology has connected everything in our world, and its impact on every industry is unprecedented. Every industry is digitizing, changing their business models and transforming the way customers engage with their products and services. Uber, the biggest car service, doesn't own any cars. Airbnb, the biggest hotel chain, doesn't own any actual rooms. And PayPal, one of the world’s biggest individual financial institutions, isn't even a bank.   These same seismic shifts can be seen in healthcare, where patients, clinicians and payers are all embracing digital technologies and changing the way they make decisions and provide care. More than 1.7 billion people are expected to download health apps by 2017.   Here in Japan, one of our most critical healthcare challenges is our aging population. Japan has the highest proportion of senior citizens in the world, with 27 percent of the population older than 65 years. With a regulatory landscape that is changing to become a more open environment, with cross-industry cooperation involving technology players, Japanese companies have begun to digitize in order to care for its elders.   New innovation needed to respond to new dynamics in the Japanese healthcare ecosystem The unprecedented growth of our aging population is just one of the dynamics driving change across our healthcare ecosystem. The pharmaceutical regulatory landscape is also undergoing significant change, as governments seek to respond to increasing healthcare costs and emerging disruptive technologies. This has led to an expansion of access to critical elements like generic prescriptions and nursing care.   Another dynamic at work is the cross-collaboration between global players in and outside the technology industry. One example is the groundbreaking display of cross-industry collaboration between Japan Post, IBM and Apple. This group has worked together to distribute iPads with pre-loaded life support apps to the elderly in Japan Post's customer network. As a watch-over service, mobile carriers will check on elderly customers and report back on their well being to concerned family members. For life support functions, the app will remind seniors to take their medication and to stick to diet and exercise routines. Their target objective is 4-5 million users by 2020.   Other examples include Hitachi, RICOH and PARO. Hitachi has developed a drug-dosing support device with a cloud solution for adherence and remote monitoring. RICOH has developed a wearable device for caretakers to communicate with healthcare professionals from a patient's home. Then there is the well-known PARO robot-a robotic harp seal that is used in some care homes in Japan for people with dementia and whose benefits are already supported by clinical data.   Global pharma company Takeda is another example of a leading company that is pursuing new applications of digital technology to develop solutions to the challenges facing healthcare, both here in Japan and around the world.   Takeda and its “Start-Up Incubator” With more than 30,000 employees, a presence in 70 countries and products across a wide range of therapeutic areas, Takeda is constantly looking for new ways to bring new value to patients as part of its patient-centric culture. One of these ways is its approach to digital strategy and technology.   Takeda has embedded digital strategy into its DNA with a model it calls the "Takeda Digital Accelerator”," designed to provide investment to new ideas that apply key customer digital trends to the healthcare space, with the goal of generating patient-centric innovations that can drive stronger outcomes. Its foundation is in digital experimentation, where new ways of thinking and working are discovered by testing and learning.   First, Takeda assembles the teams and resources needed for this experimentation to take place. Then, different teams work on small, local challenges, which they test using specific hypothesis. These findings are then incubated and shared acros the Takeda community, where other teams can leverage them.   Another way this Digital Accelerator model works is through the global ecosystem of external partners Takeda has built over the years. These partners are also helpe make recommendations and solutions to healthcare challenges, and the findings are incubated, tested and shared across the larger network.   This kind of forward thinking helps Takeda identify, explore and experiment with new ways of digitizing the healthcare experience in ways that ultimately benefit patients.   Helping to build the digital future of healthcare The digital world will continue to evolve at a rapid place, impacting how companies, governments and communities operate, and causing disruptive change along the way. As this disruption continues to transform healthcare, the organizations that contribute to the patient experience will need to transform with it.   

Bruno Villetelle is Takeda’s Chief Digital Officer. He can be contacted at jocelyn.gerst@takeda.com


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