We talked to Tineke Van hooland, President of the Board of essenscia/bio.be and External Affairs Director AbbVie Belux about the digitalization of healthcare. Global player AbbVie is in the top ten of the most innovative biopharmaceutical companies in the world. Now that more and more innovative medicines become available with a very high efficiency, the affordability of healthcare is high on the agenda of Van hooland. She believes in a three-track approach: stronger commitment to prevention, patient involvement and the use of new digital technologies.
Below you can read the full interview.
Can you tell me more about your vision on the future of healthcare?
Tineke: The future of healthcare is really interesting. I believe there are 3 things to take into account. First of all is patient empowerment, so how to ensure that the patient can really be owner of the care, so that he can enhance his quality of life. Second is how do companies ensure they adapt their business models, because our environment is changing very rapidly. I truly believe there will be more care from hospital to home. And thirdly is the digitalization in healthcare, where there are so many opportunities. First of all big data, real-world evidence, but also how can digital tools enhance the quality of life of the patients.
How important is digitalization for the future of healthcare?
Tineke: Digitalization is very important for the future of healthcare, but is already today. We have to focus on the opportunity. Digitalization can help also in prevention of diseases. Secondly we have to think about real-world evidence, big data, what can we do with that? Thirdly is how can we help patients in getting closer into contact with their physicians and care givers, use digital tools, how can we use digital tools to enhance their quality of care in terms of therapy compliance. All of these things are very important. Next to the tools it will also be important that we help people, both the patients and the caregivers with their digital skills. Because you can have a very beautiful tool but if people are not skilled to use it, it will never be used in a good way. We also need to enhance the digital skills of those people, of the patients, of the doctors. To give a very concrete example, what we did with AbbVie, we facilitated a training with patient associations to learn them more about what social media is and what they can do with social media to bring their message. It might sound very basic, but it was very much appreciated.
Do you believe we someday will be able to deal with high unmet medical needs such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease?
Tineke: I am truly convinced and that’s truly the ambition of the company that I’m working for, so AbbVie. We truly have the passion and are working each day to do the right research and development. With the ultimate goal of course to find a cure one day. We have lots of molecules in our pipeline, both on the level of cancer but also on the level of Alzheimer’s. So let’s hope that one day we will find that cure for the patients.
Do you believe in a cure or in prevention?
Tineke: We have to work on prevention, how to enhance healthy lifestyle, maybe do also research & development on how to detect more early certain diseases to prevent people from becoming ill. But next to that, there will remain a need for medicines for people who unfortunately have the disease. Prevention you can do on different levels. First of all it’s ensuring that patients have the right habits and of course there are diseases that you cannot fully prevent but a healthy lifestyle truly can enhance that. That’s one thing. Second thing, it’s also up to all stakeholders in healthcare to work on more screening campaigns. Screening or sensibilization campaigns to make people aware of things.
What’s your personal moonshot?
Tineke: That one day we can find that cure for all patients. We have to be ambitious, we have to be passionate in what we are doing. There are so many beautiful innovations and we have to believe in it.