‘Next decade’ to be defined by innovators who grasp renewed primary care: Pureland Venture | Healthcare Asia Magazine

‘Next decade’ to be defined by innovators who grasp renewed primary care: Pureland Venture

This comes despite the increasingly specialised healthcare needs of society. 

Chris Hardesty is currently a Partner at Pureland Venture, where he looks at early-stage healthtech value creation opportunities in the Asia Pacific and other regions.

He serves various roles around the regional ecosystem, such as healthcare policy advising on universal health coverage matters, executive leadership education instruction, and start-up mentorship. He is passionate and excited about bringing safe, affordable medical innovations to the masses in need.

In an interview with Healthcare Asia, Hardesty noted that the recent COVID-19 pandemic as well as the other challenges in the healthcare industry provided a necessary opportunity to reinvent the way industry players reinvent healthcare.

“As we see from many of the post-pandemic reflection reports, the key going forward is to be prepared based on past learnings but also to be flexible to the needs of the moment,” he said.

Hardesty has also provided insights into ensuring the accessibility of primary care to the public and how governments and healthcare players can aid the public amidst economic headwinds.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for better regulatory interventions given the speed at which the public health sector had to act to curb the spread of the virus. What can governments and healthcare players take away in this regard should such a threat loom again?

Although there were some quality concerns with the speed at which we moved during COVID-19 (and any pandemic), I do believe that the experience also provided a necessary opportunity to reinvent the way we reinvent healthcare.  Examples include leveraging real-world data to streamline clinical trials, regulatory recognition of peer markets to expedite approvals, and the agile learning process of improving digital literacy for the healthcare workforce and wider society.  As we see from many of the post-pandemic reflection reports, the key going forward is to be prepared based on past learnings but also to be flexible to the needs of the moment.  Working with regulators as stewards of innovation, rather than as inhibitors, remains a critical mindset for success.

As governments recognise the importance of effective primary care, how do you think they can ensure that such service is accessible to the public? What can they do to build the primary care sector?

The role of primary care is certainly not new and is in fact the bedrock of ambitions like universal health coverage.  Many innovators, ranging from service to product solutions, have been working for years to empower the primary care professionals.  So, it’s great that public and private sector system-level thinkers are coming back to our first principles in terms of a community-empowered approach.  Whilst primary care may seem obvious, it is not always an easy focus given the increasingly specialised healthcare needs of our society, mixed governing structures in most countries, and the importance of choice for patient flow.  I do believe the next decade will be defined by those innovators who are able to grasp the renewed primary care trend and design creative health, social, and economic models accordingly.  Perhaps most exciting will be to watch the partnerships which form – vertical, horizontal, non-traditional – in order to make population-wide yet personalised healthcare pathways a reality.

The deteriorating economic outlook is expected to cause difficulties in healthcare financing, on both the government and public sides. How do you think the government and healthcare players can aid the public amidst these difficulties?

I don’t want to dismiss the economic headwinds which are clearly in front of us: unstable growth expectations, teetering banking models, and rising conservatism. But, I also see positive signals.  Healthcare budgets expanded drastically during the pandemic, with no signs of slowing down. Many countries, especially in Asia, are experiencing economic booms, and there remains sufficient capital available to finance innovation.  I think the biggest takeaway is the necessary market reckoning which has occurred – no longer can the public or private sector operate sustainably based on speculation; rather, the hard principles of solid strategy, execution, and leadership therein have returned. I am inspired regularly, including through the Healthcare Asia network, by the creativity with which the public and private sectors are able to collaborate to bring their good ideas to the fore.

As a judge for this year’s Healthcare Asia Awards, what qualities amongst the entries stand out to you?

Every year I say the same thing, but it is true – the judging experience is truly remarkable.  The last couple of years were defined by award submissions which oriented around the COVID-19 cause. These submissions were heroic, and in many cases spawned ideas which live on well past the pandemic. The 2023 awards, however, demonstrated a somewhat return to normalcy in the sense of addressing demands that had been put on hold, working across borders again, and more generally finding ways to pivot out of crisis mode.  Perhaps the aspect that sticks out most to me though, and likely a legacy of the pandemic experience, is how each submission articulated their thoughtfulness about wider societal impact. Of course, the economic viability of healthcare innovation is key; yet I sense something beyond, in terms of how healthcare stakeholders feel a responsibility to build innovations which empower a future generation ahead.  Truly an honour to be a judge, and my heartiest congratulations to all of the award recipients!

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