Why we mustn’t lose the momentum behind health tech
From virtual doctor’s appointments to COVID-passes and tracking apps, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology in healthcare, and patients increasingly understand and appreciate the power that tech has to keep them healthy and safe. Of course, the health tech revolution is not just about products, or about pharma, it touches us every day.
Take my nine-year old daughter, for example, who swims in national competitions: her smart watch means that not only can she track her race times but she can travel to neighbouring cantons here in Switzerland with her team, and I can see on GPS that she’s safely where she’s supposed to be. Or, my 77-year-old old mother-in-law, who barely turned on her tablet before the pandemic: now she has telemedicine consultations about her herniated disc and hypertension, allowing her to be monitored and treated, when otherwise her ability to access healthcare would have been really limited.
From an industry perspective, innovation in healthcare is nothing new; it’s always been the backbone of what we do at Janssen. But the pandemic has helped prove its worth even more, in terms of creating products and medicines that benefit society – and quickly. COVID-19 vaccines would never have happened from molecule to patient in less than one year had the pharma industry not already been in good shape in terms of innovation. Rapid vaccine and medicine development was possible because of years of investment and expertise in advancing innovation by industry.
And that investment in innovation continues. To cite just one example: a partnership between Johnson & Johnson and BARDA means both have committed to more than $1.7 billion of investment to co-fund vaccine research and development efforts. And in addition to financial investment, Janssen is investing its vaccine technology platform, science and expertise.
Health tech will never replace personal interactions, but in the last few years it has really changed the way we view, track and conduct our health and social activities. Some will view this as an intrusion on their personal privacy, which is why I think it’s important that regulations continue to protect us. That said, I think that we should also celebrate the good things: our ability to carry on our healthy lives by using tech in a perfectly ordinary household just like mine.
This blog first appeared on LinkedIn on 15 February 2022