McKinsey, AstraZeneca speakers cast light on China mHealth solutions at GBI-hosted summit

Leading information, applications and services company for the healthcare industry GBI on May 12, 2015, hosted the “Health China and the New Normal: Mobile Health Summit” in Shanghai, partnered with the Siqi Club, Renmin University, and the Clinical Pathway Office, attracting around 300 delegates from domestic and MNC pharma players.

GBI CEO Matt Chervenak opened the summit with a discussion of the challenges and opportunities facing pharmaceutical firms seeking to adapt to the New Normal macroeconomic conditions, and the opportunities inherent in China’s rapidly growing digital health space. The mobile health opportunity, and the considerations for pharma firms seeking sustainable success in the sector, were explored by John Frager, GBI vice-president and head of health management services subsidiary Reframe Health. Reframe is currently partnering with multinational pharmaceutical companies and hospitals in Shanghai to provide physician-managed patient engagement platforms for chronic diseases and post-acute care, projected to be in use in over 100 hospitals by end-2015.

The keynote presentation was given by Frank Le Deu, head of McKinsey & Co.’s Greater China Healthcare practice, who provided a macro-view of China’s digital health industry. Le Deu outlined the potential for disruptive e-Health solutions to provide an answer to China’s key health system challenges: hospital sector and distribution inefficiencies, a broken down patient-physician dynamic, growing chronic disease burdens, and access difficulties for rural residents. China’s expanding digital health ecosystem and wave of innovation from established internet players alongside entrepreneurial start-ups is having an impact across the healthcare value chain, and Le Deu explored the implications for industry participants.

Lisa Banks, project manager of AstraZeneca’s Intelligent Pharmaceuticals department, presented some of the achievements of the U.K. giant’s award-winning global patient centricity program patient engagement app for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), developed for a non-digitally savvy population. Key considerations for pharma players seeking to introduce beyond-the-pill care to China include accommodating differing patient behavioral psychologies and requirements, the relevance of peer support in Asian markets to promote longevity of patient involvement, and the need for success to be measured in terms of clinical benefit and health outcomes, rather than volume of user downloads.

Other speakers included: Lin Likai of the Clinical Pathway Office, who spoke to the rapid changes in store for the healthcare ecosystem as the government strives to introduce a more rational public hospital system; Katharine Wang, partner in Ropes & Gray’s Life Sciences group, with a rundown of current compliance concerns for the mobile medical business model in China; and Sun Feng, Senior Consultant with Renmin University’s Medical and Pharma Industry R&D Center, who highlighted the potential uses of digital tools within business operations. Finally, Zhang Qiang, founder of the Dr. Smile Medical Group, provided a doctor’s eye view of mobile health developments in relation to digital physician tools, the space for further app development, and the long-term potential of cloud-based, doctor-less diagnosis.