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Unlocking the potential of Population Health Partnerships

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Ageing populations are forecast to continue to drive demand and health systems have recognised they can no longer sustain the current model and are shifting their focus on to the prevention and earlier intervention.

Many systems are now investing in population health management and personalised medicine functions to enable their strategies. Meanwhile, the life sciences sector is investing significantly in personalised medicine treatments and diagnostics; in just a decade we have seen the number increase from 6 to 132 products – half of which were related to oncology.

As population health management is a relatively immature discipline, many health systems may lack the capabilities to realise its full value. In such circumstances, we have a choice to accelerate through strategic partnerships or try to do this alone but this will take more time.

Visions4health has previously set out the case for how Population Health Partnerships (PHPs) between health systems and the life sciences industry could deliver better value for both sectors. Our proposition identified 3 key and differentiated capabilities that the life science industry could bring to a population health partnership:

      1. Data and population insights
      2. Consumer and patient activation and
      3. Market knowledge and best practice solutions.

In this article, we practically explore in some detail the first capability – data analytics and insights.

What capabilities are needed?

The first stage in taking forward population health management is to stop focusing on institutions or specialities but start to consider the different needs of populations defined by a common symptom, condition or characteristic, such as smoking, breathlessness, arthritis, or multiple morbidities.

Personalised medicine goes even further by identifying individuals within populations who are more or less likely to respond to certain therapies. Using new diagnostics to identify specific biological markers, often genetic, it helps determine the right treatment for an individual patient at the right time.

Both approaches require advanced data intelligence capabilities and a digital-first culture in order to measure value, compare outcomes and prioritise interventions.

How could PHPs work?

We have chosen two areas in order to illustrate how industry and health systems can partner to leverage their combined data and population insights capabilities in this new PHP paradigm.

Creating new value in diabetes. 

For many years pharmaceutical companies’ have generated significant revenues from drugs that treat diabetes. However, payers are now looking for strategies to delay disease progression or prevent it entirely by identifying patient cohorts most at risk as early as possible and enabling them to remain healthy.

Many MedTech and pharma companies have the insight, data analysis skills and experience to support health systems to stratify, segment, predict and engage potential patients to influence their behaviour and drive outcomes. They bring real-world evidence that informs decision-making in response to need and helps measure outcomes for patients.

Many companies are developing new solutions to address diabetes prevention, mitigation, and management differently but are doing this insolation. Industry developed mobile phone apps and wearables are now available to both patients and doctors to monitor key data measures helping to determine if a therapy is working and to promote utilisation.

Diabetics can now measure their blood glucose simply by scanning a small wearable patch and may soon be able to have a year-long supply implanted under their skin and released as required. More could be done to engage and actively involve life science in planning and delivering interventions for diabetes population health strategies at both local and national levels.

Creating new value in cancer diagnostics and treatment. 

In oncology, there has been a strong focus on improving survival for patients. However, data-driven personalised cancer management is likely to disrupt this approach.

Diagnostic testing is a key part of a full treatment regimen and, as such, is instrumental in realising the value of safer and more effective individualised treatment plans. Genomic sequencing is allowing rapid, accurate analysis of our DNA, uncovering the detailed fingerprinting of cancer types, which is now understood in terms of DNA mutation profiles rather than its location in the body.

By combining this information with an individual’s medical records, circumstances, and values it is enabling the development of more personalised, targeted and effective treatments, closely matched to patients’ conditions and preferences.

A number of innovative data-driven health transformation partnerships have been created by health systems who have involved technology and pharma companies early in their planning process.

  • Ilumina, NHS England and Genomics UK have created a long-term partnership to realise the benefits of whole-genome sequencing to improve patient care and provide a foundation for research.
  • Bayer and Sensyme Health recently established LifeHub UK designed to accelerate and optimise disease detection and drug discovery by enabling the development of AI-enabled radiology solutions using imaging data provided by NHS providers.
  • Liva healthcare works with a number of public and private healthcare systems and pharma companies using digital programmes and technology to effectively combine medicine with lifestyle support.


Becoming ‘Fit for Partnering’

The ability to partner in healthcare delivery is becoming a new competitive advantage.

The shift to value-based population-based and personalised health care is underpinned by data solutions. Healthcare providers need sophisticated data and tools to find and engage patients, while diagnostic, technology and pharma suppliers will need to access patient information to trial new products and services.

Every organisation will need to develop a strategy for partnering effectively. Only by doing this can they identify and leverage their capabilities on where they can best serve patients and consumers, identifying unmet needs, and discovering new and innovative ways of addressing them together that create additional value.

The first step is for individual organisations to determine if they have the right leadership, systems and processes, staff competencies and culture to become the most effective partner of choice.

Published in the World Healthcare Journal –

Conor Burke

Conor Burke

Strategic Advisor, Visions4Health

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