IDEA LAB

Future-proofing Healthcare: An Interview with Esteban Plata

ESG member Esteban Plata is also the President of Western Europe & Canada for AbbVie. He explains the importance of building partnerships and says everyone who has a stake in healthcare holds the power to improve the sustainability of European healthcare systems.

IDEA LAB

Future-proofing Healthcare: An Interview with Esteban Plata

ESG member Esteban Plata is also the President of Western Europe & Canada for AbbVie. He explains the importance of building partnerships and says everyone who has a stake in healthcare holds the power to improve the sustainability of European healthcare systems.

Q: What does it mean to “future-proof” healthcare systems?
EP: Countries need robust healthcare systems in order to thrive, because healthy populations are productive populations. The research is clear: Europe’s populations are ageing and chronic disease rates are rising. That alone is worrisome, and in addition you have things like the 2008 crisis, which hit healthcare systems hard. Future-proofing healthcare systems means looking ahead and building solutions today that will pay off in the medium or long-term. Such as: investing in health literacy and prevention campaigns like the “Don’t Delay, Connect Today” from EULAR, which foster early diagnosis and prevent disease progression; rethinking care delivery—because healthcare based on acute diseases is inefficient, expensive and produces suboptimal results when dealing with chronic diseases; and finally, encouraging people to become stewards of their own health.  The ultimate goal is to keep people healthy longer, which reduces the burden on healthcare systems, lowers expenditures, and, above all, improves patients’ quality of life.

 

Q: Healthcare sustainability seems like such a vast problem. What’s the first step towards tackling it?

 

EP: There is no single magic bullet that will solve the issues healthcare systems face. First of all, each system is different and has evolved in a different way. Secondly, there are so many different stakeholders, it is impossible for countries to address the problems in the same way. But I do believe there is one essential step every country must take: opening dialogue across sectors and building partnerships. Everyone with a stake in healthcare needs to be participating in the discussion in order to share ideas, best practices and case studies. So I’d say that active partnerships based on conversation between actors in healthcare are a critical first step towards improving healthcare sustainability. In practice, that will look different in every country.

 

Esteban Plata

We’ve got to increase partnerships and dialogue with everyone who has a stake in healthcare, if we want to improve healthcare sustainability.

Q: High-quality healthcare is expensive. How do healthcare systems optimise their resources so that everyone has access to high-quality care?

 

EP:  That is indeed the crux of the issue. First, though, I would argue that high-quality care doesn’t have to be expensive. Ensuring patients get the right care, at the right time and in the right place is the first part of high-quality care, because that is what helps patients recover faster and return to health. The Spanish Early Intervention clinics are a perfect example. For each euro invested in these clinics, the health and social-welfare systems get 11 euros in returns. This proves that healthcare systems do not necessarily need to spend more money, but they do need to reconsider how they organise healthcare. Can a patient see a healthcare provider as soon as the first symptoms of disease appear? Does that healthcare provider have the right knowledge to appropriately diagnose and/or refer the patient to a specialist? Are there enough specialist appointments available so that the patient can be seen quickly? When you look at healthcare not from the perspective of the hospital system or the doctor, but from the perspective of the patient, many barriers that keep people from seeking and obtaining care become clear. And if we want to improve outcomes for people with chronic diseases, we must find better ways of providing treatment in a timely fashion, before their diseases have progressed too far.

 

I’m particularly proud that we’re helping to scale up the principle behind Early Intervention clinics. On November 21st, we  launched a toolkit – in partnership with the Work Foundation and Fit for Work—to help healthcare systems and healthcare providers ensure patients get the right care at the right time in the right setting—which is good news for everyone.

Download the eu whitepaper