The Way Forward for Innovations in the Philippine Healthcare Industry

“The purpose of the panel was to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the local healthcare industry.”

Published on May 24, 2018


BY THE END OF the VITAL Healthcare Marketing Conference, its five speakers had certainly provided a great deal of perspective for attendees in developing an innovation mindset, and addressing the new trends and challenges that faced healthcare marketing. However, it was also important to hear what the leadership of the industry had to say about innovation, and how it could be cultivated in the industry today. In service of their perspective, a panel discussion was held, composed of Cheryl Maley, President and Managing Director, Novartis Philippines, Brent Denning, Country Manager, Pfizer Philippines, and Teodoro Padilla, Executive Director, Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP). The discussion was moderated by Dr. VJ Yamat, Managing Director, Havas Health and You, Asia Pacific.

The purpose of the panel was to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the local healthcare industry. One key talking point was the difficulty of innovation in healthcare, about which the panelists were in agreement – heavy regulation, lengthy drug development, and long waiting times to even see if medications work all contribute to the difficulty of innovation in healthcare. In addition, the expectation that innovation must be very fast, juxtaposed alongside the lengthy tenure of development, makes innovation difficult to consider at times. Risk is a major factor too – huge amounts of money poured into new developments can be completely undermined without anything to show for it, if the product doesn’t work. Moreover, if that product doesn’t work, lives are on the line.

Another question was about impediments to innovation that were present in the local healthcare industry. An important concern raised by the panelists was intellectual property and the protection of ideas – it’s important to protect those who come up with ideas, so as to incentivize the development of further ideas.

As leaders of their respective pharmaceutical companies, the panelist closed the conversation with their input on how the industry could advocate innovation. They indicated that the hierarchical nature of corporations in the Philippines make people feel like they can’t speak up; the removal of obstacles between levels will allow a culture of innovation to flourish, as everyone will have the opportunity to speak up. In addition, the pressures and expectations of quick turnouts and positive outcomes are a burden to innovation.

One should try to stop people from “doing too much,” as it is – after all, focusing on everything is focusing on nothing. Instead, innovation should be developed from insights, of which patients are always going to be the center. Succeeding in innovation isn’t just creating new ideas, but identifying which spaces are ripe for innovation in the first place. Knowing where to focus your efforts is key to producing viable ideas.


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