Bridging the gap between quality and accessibility for the masses | Healthcare Asia Magazine

Bridging the gap between quality and accessibility for the masses

Chris Hardesty is back as one of the judges in this year’s Healthcare Asia Awards.

With years under his belt, Chris Hardesty established himself as a figure in the global health industry, handling multiple different health system philosophies and providing guidance to healthcare ecosystem stakeholders, bringing in fresh ideas and maintaining a cultural appreciation of the systems.

Hardesty is currently a Partner at Pureland Venture, handling early-stage healthtech value creation opportunities in the Asia Pacific and beyond.  He also serves various roles around the regional ecosystem such as healthcare policy advising regarding UHC matters, leadership education instruction, and start-up mentorship.

As a judge in the Healthcare Asia Awards 2022, Healthcare Asia traded insights on what Hardesty looks forward to amongst the entries, especially as someone excited about introducing quality yet affordable medical innovations to the masses in need.

How has your experience in healthcare and life sciences consulting across different regions impacted your professional career?

It’s no small life choice, but I’ve found the opportunity to work in global health to be one of the most rewarding experiences I could have imagined.  Of course, each health system has its own unique philosophies; and yet, I find there are actually more similarities than differences.  Which creates a wonderful platform for sharing across geographies.  These insights, in turn, allow me to provide better guidance to healthcare ecosystem stakeholders, in bringing fresh ideas while also maintaining a level of cultural appreciation for how systems have been designed.  It is for similar reasons that I appreciate the collaboration with Healthcare Asia - as a forum for open discussions and shared learnings.

What do you think is the current global gold standard when it comes to healthcare administration, and do the nominees meet them?

I remain a UHC classicist at heart, following predominantly the Beveridge and Bismarckian varieties of health system design.  While there are many improvements to make, I hope we can all appreciate the tremendous gift that longer, more secure lives have given us during the prior generations.  That said, being in Asia gives me a great spirit of leaning and leapfrogging.  Antiquated measurements like healthcare expenditures as a % of GDP are being debunked in favour of smarter, more efficient designs.  The pace of innovation in the region too, as a VC, is inspirational.  I believe the next generation of health systems, what I like to call UHC 2.0, are those which will be inherently universal, value-oriented, and digitally native.  This means improved public/private resourcing capacity to bring the latest medical innovations to bear.  And I think we may be surprised about where the next class of global health leaders may emerge from.

What do this year’s nominees tell you about what they aim to succeed in?

Having been a Healthcare Asia judge for many years, I was blown away with the submissions in 2022!  Of course, it’s great to see organisations returning to financial viability as the pandemic situation stabilises.  But I believe the innovations developed during COVID-19 (in service and in product/technology) are lasting enhancements to our health system designs.  Ranging from wholesale organisational transformation down to micro, community/patient-oriented nudging techniques.  The degree of partnerships, including in some cases with direct competition and cross-border, is fascinating.  And, lastly, I applaud the tremendous leadership, at all levels across the region, in continuing the fight to deliver on our UHC promises.  I am forever grateful for these superheroes.

Aside from the changing landscape of healthcare policy with regard to universal healthcare, what other trends do you see will emerge post-pandemic?

There are a few things which inspire my day-to-day work, during the pandemic and beyond.  Firstly, at a micro level, is the expansion of average healthcare literacies in our societies.  Often the ecological fallacy of public health stops short at being able to harness individual-level accountability and activation; we have a real opportunity on our hands to empower people to take greater control of their healthcare journeys.

Secondly, coming up a level is the volume of energy in the healthcare ecosystem.  In terms of capital allocation (including myself as a VC), and moreover in the various new players which are coming to the table to help.  Food delivery platforms, fintech, banks, transport, media, airlines, and the list goes on.  I appreciate the spirit of camaraderie with existing industry incumbents too, who remain critical in ensuring we stay focused on our UHC missions.

Lastly, very macro, is the wherewithal by governments to continue their march toward UHC.  It could be easy to think, in a post-pandemic world, that we will fall down on healthcare design due to budget cuts.  Rather, at least in my policy conversations, there is a more eager desire than ever to build back better.  For example, the pace at which policy is being formed to accommodate digital health is quite powerful.  The ground for fresh ideas is ready, so I hope to hear more from the people out there! 

As a judge in the Healthcare Asia Awards, what projects or innovations are you expecting to find amongst the entries?

As much as we are all fatigued by it, I do realise that COVID-19 remains the call of the hour.  So I expect to see many online and offline innovations in continuing to provide safety to our regional societies.  That said, I know healthcare leaders are starting to think beyond, including in terms of restoring the much needed other disease care pathways.  Continued partnerships, geographic expansion, and virtualisation are all the next-gen designs.  I do also expect to see tremendous leadership throughout the organisations, as is typically the case with the Healthcare Asia cohort!

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