Doing well by doing good. I just love that phrase. It wraps up the entire concept of what we espouse in pharma and life science as our grand mission in five simple words. None of the flowery language of corporate mission statements. Just a simple credo that recognizes the need to turn a decent profit while giving something of value back to society—a fair and sustainable trade that, if practiced by all, could solve a host of problems because the two goals are held in equal importance within that simple phrase. Don’t sacrifice your profit just to do good (a noble goal, but that’s called charity). And don’t sacrifice good just to make a buck (that’s called greed, and while it can be legal, it’s not the best way to build a society where you want to live).
Lately, I’m hearing more business leaders talk about these two goals beyond just the pablum of press releases, and someone asked me recently to cite an example taken from our industry. I can cite several, but not all of them are yet publicly unwrapped. But one that has captured recent press is the collaboration between Merck and the EHR company, Practice Fusion.
Guided by Craig Kemp of the Merck Vaccine Division and the company’s Medical Information and Innovation office (led by Sachin Jain), Merck is working with Practice Fusion to launch a program that incorporates elements of Population Health Management and Clinical Decision Support to help providers figure out which of their patients are eligible for one of several adult vaccinations based on CDC recommendations. The EHR also tracks whether the patient might not have been vaccinated for any of several reasons, and if no good reason is found, the provider is alerted to the “gap” in the patient’s vaccination status.
If you believe in the value of vaccines (I’m a diehard believer who sees them as right behind clean water and sanitation in terms of their contribution to public health), this is a program in which everybody wins. The patient is vaccinated against a preventable disease. The provider is delivering better care with technology-enabled efficiency. Merck will presumably make a profit on the vaccines administered, and Practice Fusion will presumably offer this service in a way that generates a financial return for their company.
Good is done. The companies have a reasonable shot at “well.” And a sustainable business cycle—something we so desperately need more of—is fostered in society. How can you not love that? [Full disclosure: My company has advised Merck Vaccines on items related to their work with EHRs and Point-of-Care, but we did not arrange the details of this program].
Population Health Management is just one way that pharma companies can collaborate with providers and technology suppliers—and health systems, IDNs, payers and government also have roles to play. Our healthcare problems are daunting, but they are not insurmountable. Doing well by doing good is possible, and we need more real-world examples of it.