Written by John Davison, CEO

When I look back at changes in Asia’s healthcare landscape over the last decades it’s a complex mix of good & bad news. First, the good news: it’s amazing to see the strides made in the region, from shoring up health system infrastructure & improving access to medicines to the control of deadly communicable diseases.

Now the bad news: we are still in a sick-care model where health systems struggle to manage the spiraling cost of chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer & heart disease. This is the case despite increasing government investment & efforts to deploy early screening & disease awareness programs to improve public health.

Collectively, NCD’s cause nearly 40 million deaths globally each year & this number is growing. As I write, the WHO Global Dialogue on Partnerships for Sustainable Financing for Prevention & Control of NCD’s recently concluded in Copenhagen. Delegates attending the dialogue - WHO Member States, development agencies, NGO’s & business associations - all had a common goal: preventing heart attacks, strokes, cancers, diabetes & chronic respiratory diseases from claiming lives prematurely.

A key message shared at this dialogue by Dr. Svetlana Axelrod, WHO’s Assistant Director-General, really hits the nail on the head: “Only by working together in new partnerships & investing the right levels of resources will we be able to protect people from NCD’s & provide the care they need.”

Clearly, we are at an inflection point; nobody can do this alone & we need additional reinforcements if we are to move the needle from today’s costly, intervention-based model to a more proactive, preventative model. As with many other things in life, timing is everything. If we can intervene with the right care at the right time, we can prevent diseases even before they develop.

So, what is the superpower we need to be able to realize this vision? I see Big Data and more importantly, the harnessing of predictive analytics, as the force that can drive transformation of healthcare practices & research in this arena. The healthcare sector generates huge volumes of data daily, but this often goes to waste due to ineffective collection & analysis. Of the large volumes of information gathered, approximately 80% exists as unstructured data that begs review & analysis. Mining this can potentially help us make better decisions or develop predictive models to drive targeted interventions to improve population health.

Right intervention at the right time

The team at Zuellig Pharma has experienced first-hand the transformational power of Big Data analytics for our business. We now have an advanced data system that can predict delays & hiccups that affect inventory management. This was not possible before. But, how is this relevant to the problem of NCD’s?

We are now applying this technology to develop smart solutions to help healthcare systems create change at scale. Our Data Analytics team is in the process of launching a suite of solutions to help Clients access the power of predictive analytics. One tool called ‘Investigator’ applies advanced analytics to key issues in pharma. What this means for end-users is that they can get more sophisticated information that predicts with greater accuracy future demand for products or medicines, provides recommendations to optimize the supply chain & thus improves access.

This is just one example of how we hope to leverage predictive analytics to achieve the right intervention at the right time. Together, we can harness the power of predictive analytics to achieve common goals such as highly effective population health screenings, early proactive management of chronic disease to prevent complications, and keeping our citizens healthy so they can live happy & productive lives.