Vantage Point: the changing healthcare world

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I've heard people say that the questions in this business never change; only the answers change. I might have bought this as a point of view a few years ago because as the 21st century arrived, the healthcare world was changing slowly. Markets moved, new competitors entered, answers to age-old questions evolved, but the questions themselves remained much the same.

Questions like: What unmet needs exist and are they worth pursuing? What are the most compelling messages for physicians? How should we develop the market? How will competitors affect our share?

I just can't see how anyone in this industry can still believe that the questions aren't changing. Today's questions focus on very different business challenges.

Treatment paradigms and decision-making power in healthcare will continue to shift. Quality and success are measured not just by clinical benefits but by economic efficiency. The marketplace grows more crowded and options are available today that were mere imagination a decade ago. Traditional pharmaceuticals, biologics, medical devices, surgical solutions and therapy often compete head to head.

We must ask new and sometimes uncomfortable questions of audiences that still feel foreign to our industry: How does the treatment decision process differ? How can studies be designed to meet FDA, prescriber and consumer needs? What must we learn about consumers to segment them properly? How can healthcare solutions be effectively compared when they may involve very dissimilar competitors?

While we don't know the scope, we're all aware that some type of healthcare reform is coming.  And the questions—not just the answers—will change again.

Debbie Kenworthy is senior manager, business analytics at Johnson & Johnson

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