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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Tremendous Learning Opportunity

~ CEIBS President & Chengwei Ventures Chair Professor of Entrepreneurship Pedro Nueno

“Thank you again to UBS for their support, and thank you very much to the speakers for their fantastic presentations. I think that this was one of the best events on healthcare that I have been to, it has been excellent.

We heard a lot [today] about digitalisation and the impact of biotechnology and artificial intelligence. We say that the technology is ready, but how do we apply it? It’s not a question of getting all the information and putting it in the cloud, the question is getting the information and putting it into practice.

One of the topics that was discussed quite often was caring for the elderly. It will be an issue that we have to face in the future and we can look at it as an opportunity. The question, of course, is how will we pay for it? We discussed several innovations in that area. We also talked about balancing technology with social responsibility, and profitability. 

We agree that there are plenty of opportunities in China, yet though we have made some progress, there is still a lot to do. Clearly the Chinese government is committed to doing this. In today’s digital age, when it is so easy to communicate with each other, it’s impossible that some people will get good care and others will not. Healthcare is clearly a priority for the government. I had the honour of speaking with Chinese President Xi Jinping. In his first speech as President he included healthcare among  the country’s top priorities, which also include reducing poverty.  

China will continue to be a huge market for healthcare. But it’s not the last market. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, CEIBS also has a campus in Africa in Accra, so I have to go meet companies there from time to time. I was really surprised to see that a company like Vodafone was supporting a telecom company project against yellow fever, where people could, through the mobile, know exactly where they could find pharmaceutical products to cure their problem.  In Africa there are no pharmacies like we are used to in Europe; if you have a problem you dial a number with your mobile and you get a location for the nearest clinic. It may be  500 meters ahead, outside of an oil station, you will find a truck that has products. One of the speakers today held up his mobile and said, ‘this is your hospital’. Well, in Africa this is your pharmacy.

China is a big opportunity, but there are more coming and anything that we do in China can be applied later in other markets. A question that does not get asked very often, and which to me is a big concern, is the financing of all of this.  Many of the solutions that were presented today were solutions that made costs cheaper; technology was applied to lower the cost of a service.  But still, financing is a big problem.  If we combine the ageing population and large market size, who’s going to pay for healthcare?

In any case, I think that today was excellent, and provided many opportunities for networking, which I think is one of the objectives that we have with these type of events; people come together to share their concerns, and it’s perfectly okay to network, to help each other, and develop new ideas. 

It’s a good opportunity to evaluate ourselves and say, ‘What are the areas I should be concerned about?’ It helps with disruptive thinking; we can ask what would happen if we tried something that someone else did as described here. At minimum it’s an opportunity to explore. So, thank you very much for coming. Thank you very much for the tremendous learning opportunity, and let’s have a fantastic healthcare year.”