“I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.”
 – A Modern Hippocratic Oath by Dr. Louis Lasagna, Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, 1964

Most people have heard of the Hippocratic Oath physicians take before entering the medical workforce. Phrases like “do no harm,” “respecting patient privacy” and “prevention is preferable” come to mind when we consider what guides our medical professionals. However, the first promise from our modern Hippocratic oath points to a key aspect of medicine that is not always at the forefront: shared knowledge.

Fierce competition and proprietary approaches to medicine have hindered collaboration in the healthcare industry for years. But with social distancing disrupting society for weeks on end, and pressure mounting to find a solution to end the COVID-19 outbreak, healthcare and other business leaders are turning to collaborative measures.

Our Collective Fight Against COVID-19

Earlier this month, pharmaceutical heavyweights Sanofi and GSK set aside their competition to forge a partnership toward COVID-19 vaccine development. “As the world faces this unprecedented global health crisis,” explained Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson, “it is clear that no one company can go it alone.”

Experts state that vaccines typically take between eight and 10 years to develop, but health leaders from life science organizations, pharmaceutical companies, academic medical institutions and regulatory bodies are determined to produce a vaccine in a narrow timeframe of just 12 to 18 months.

As a result, partnerships like the GSK-Sanofi venture have emerged across competitive lanes and industry lines, demonstrating the critical need for shared knowledge, expertise and resources to achieve this ambitious goal. Microsoft and AI software provider C3.ai partnered with leading academic centers to find digital approaches to fighting COVID-19. The Gates Foundation launched its COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator alongside Wellcome and Mastercard to expedite research and drug development, already assembling a consortium of life science companies to join its efforts and share in its collective intelligence.

While a coronavirus cure remains the ultimate goal, collaboration has already proven successful in generating short-term success. Private and public hospitals across New York state have joined forces to manage the high volume of patients, with the Greater New York Hospital Association serving as a command center to coordinate patient transfers and proper distribution of supplies among all hospitals.

In the medtech sector, healthcare software developer Redox is leading a coalition with 14 fellow digital health companies in an effort to help healthcare institutions immediately deploy digital applications that enhance their COVID-19 response. Even non-traditional innovators have jumped in to tackle COVID-19, with companies like General Motors partnering with Ventec Life Systems to produce ventilators for the national stockpile.

Despite its tremendous adversity, COVID-19 has spurred incredible displays of unity and determination by those on the frontlines and in search of solutions. It’s not only inspiring to see – it’s also a model we should embrace to drive systemic innovation going forward.

Out of Crisis, a Collaborative Spirit Emerges

In creating a public health crisis like no other, the COVID-19 outbreak has effectively broken-down traditional barriers to collaboration, such as bottom-line impact, marketplace positioning and even regulatory demands. While recovery may seem distant, we will conquer this outbreak, in large part due to the heroic efforts currently underway through a united front of bold collaborators. 

As we emerge on the other side of this pandemic, the unprecedented strategies taken to combat this crisis should be applied to make real progress in areas that have stagnated for generations.

Through our partnership with client INSIGHTEC, the leader in incisionless brain surgery, we’ve observed firsthand how truly innovative medical breakthroughs stem from unique partnerships. As a global medical technology innovator, INSIGHTEC regularly collaborates with medical centers around the world at the intersection of technology and healthcare to fuel treatments for neurological conditions. Earlier this year, INSIGHTEC CEO Maurice R. Ferré MD shed light on this work and offered his perspective on why the new decade will bring forward transformative treatments in neurology.

According to Dr. Ferré, melding different areas of expertise, like technology and medicine, is the key to unlocking success in this challenging field. Citing several new partnerships in neuroscience, he reflected that these initiatives  “exemplify the sort of concerted effort needed to usher in the Century of the Brain—uniting minds from across disciplines to decipher the intricacies of the brain, and carefully analyzing the roadblocks to effective treatment in order to focus investment where it can make the greatest impact.”

Like the neural networks of a human brain, the future of healthcare relies on its ability to take an interdisciplinary approach to challenges ranging from disease treatment to patient access. As we emerge from this crisis and our isolated home environments, we cannot leave our innovation toolkits in the past. The healthcare ecosystem of the future should empower its leaders to pursue new partnerships and share their knowledge and capabilities broadly.

The global pandemic has recalibrated what lies at the core of healthcare, strengthening a focus on the reason so many chose to enter the field in the first place – the chance to help a fellow human being in need. If the industry can learn from its progress during COVID-19, I’m confident that this sentiment will persist in the years ahead.

 

For new updates and other resources, please visit www.gscommunications.com/coronavirus, and do not hesitate to contact us with further inquiries. We know the uncertainty brings significant business risks, and we’re here to help.

 

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