Europe’s largest pharmaceutical company calls for interoperability –

Ehab Youssef, Regional Manager Europe North at Roche Pharmaceuticals, tells us why European countries need interoperability to ensure a more efficient global European healthcare system.

COVID has brought to light the vulnerability of the healthcare system and the need for structural and technological change to help manage such a crisis. Although some regions have started to make the necessary changes, Youssef says Europe is lagging behind.

“In general, there is good progress in almost all countries. But the baseline is different depending on where each country stands on preparedness. Not all countries in Europe have the same level of access to digital tools and use of data,” says Youssef.

“The opportunity is huge, but it requires the work and support of everyone to make it happen: all stakeholders, including government, policymakers, pharmaceutical organizations and non-pharmaceutical organizations.”

There are some tentative efforts across Europe enabling interoperability to improve digital health infrastructure. Still, Youssef says there is still a lot to do and several hurdles need to be overcome.

Challenges and Opportunities

Today, two major obstacles exist within European healthcare: defining value and improving the digital approach.

“Generally, when looking at the healthcare system, waste is a big word – the ability of the system to define value, excluding treatment and excluding investment. And that’s one of the challenges. Sometimes the health system is in reactive mode or simply cutting costs. If your goal is just to save money, don’t deal,” says Youssef.

Ultimately, if a system is more efficient and, therefore, more efficient at bringing together solutions that allow for a smoother overall process, costs will inevitably decrease.

“Defining value and what value means to the system, I believe, is something very critical. Mainly due to economic pressure, systems are starting to realize that there is another way to handle this,” says Youssef.

Denmark has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. This is largely because it is usually a private/public partnership and multiple actors and stakeholders are involved in supporting the system and finding solutions.

Data is easily shared and leveraged for decision makers to gain insights that can help clinical research.

Some startups are even part of this partnership, helping to manage some of the chronic data management issues, such as data ownership, which is one of the areas of friction that keeps organizations in many countries from moving forward. far.

“They’re just working on anonymizing the data, merging the data, helping the infrastructure of the different systems across the country to read each other and really be able to understand better,” Youssef says.

“What I really like is that the government is funding a lot of this project. So there is a very high commitment and a very strong desire from the country to make it a result. And that is quite scalable.

Denmark is a country that is quite ahead of the others when it comes to guaranteed connectivity. Yet, with the right support in Europe, an exponential impact can advance the entire European healthcare system.

“What I really like is that the government is funding a lot of this project. So there is a very high commitment and a very strong desire from the country to make it a result. And that is quite scalable.

Increase interoperability

Currently, barriers are in place that make interoperability difficult in Europe. There is a lack of cohesion, which needs to change to make the system more efficient.

Advancing scalable projects capable of transferring data between different countries will allow regions to build on each other’s information rather than duplicating their efforts.

“One of the barriers in place is [the ability to] mobilize different countries through policies, system infrastructures and transferable experiences,” says Youssef.

“It is one of the challenges and, at the same time, an opportunity that I think the minute you agree to take advantage of it, the impact will be exponential and this transformation will go really fast. It exists today. now a window of opportunity thanks to the European Health Data Area (EHDS).”

The European Data Strategy and the European Commission (EC) created the EHDS as part of a strategic initiative.

EHDS is the first data space designed to foster the exchange of health data and support the search for new treatments, prevention strategies, medicines and medical devices while aiming to allow individuals the right to control their personal health data.

“EHDS is something that should help direct the right policies to the system across Europe, because it cannot happen on the basis of an individual candidate alone,” Youssef says.

“There is a need to have the right policies in place that encourage and improve people’s behaviors, people’s behavior, data sharing behavior, and give them confidence and the right level of privacy to give them the courage to change. these behaviors,” says Youssef.

In response to the EHDS initiative, a report by the Open Data Institute (ODI) highlighted the readiness of different countries to adopt and adapt health data.

“The ODI report has helped us see where the opportunities are and where the challenges are that I hope people can build on and rely on,” Youssef says.

How the pharmacy can help

With only 2-3% of the current level of available data being mined, there is substantial room for growth, and Youssef says the pharmaceutical industry could help make a significant impact.

“It’s really an invitation to all pharma companies to support this product-centric transaction and interaction with external roles and play a role in system support, ecosystem formation and system infrastructure. of health to make that leap and that value,” Youssef says. .

He says Roche has transformed the usual business model into two main touchpoints.

The first focuses on the patient journey through patient partnerships – identifying areas of challenge for specific patients and developing partnerships with different stakeholders outside of Roche to improve the patient journey.

The second focuses on the journey of the health system and the creation of health partnerships to build and personalize care.

Roche aims to treat individual patients with an abundance of data to shift the system from a reaction-based mode to a prevention mode, to help identify at-risk patients early in the process, says Youssef. .

“There are a multitude of opportunities if pharmaceutical organizations start to really look at these opportunities by devoting more resources to them and being more collaborative,” says Youssef. “It could be done easily if everyone cooperated well and helped the system work.”

To read the ODI report mentioned above, click here.

About the interviewee

Ehab Youssef is responsible for the Northern Europe area of ​​Roche Pharmaceuticals. He has over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. In 2011, he started working at Roche Pharma as General Manager for Egypt. He then oversaw the Middle East sub-region before becoming its Sector Head, where he contributed to the advancement of different therapeutic areas, including neurosciences, oncology, women’s health and diabetes. . Ehab assumed his current role as Head of North Europe Area in October 2019. Ehab graduated from Harvard Business School’s General Management Program in 2009 and holds a BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences.

About the Author

Jessica Hagen is a freelance health and life sciences writer and project manager who has worked with virtual reality health companies, fiction/non-fiction writers, non-profit and for-profit organizations and government entities.

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