One month later: Reflections on the 2019 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference

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February 07, 2019

PwC's Health Research Institute (HRI) caught up with PwC’s Global and US Health Industries Leader Kelly Barnes, Health Services Leader Gurpreet Singh and Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Leader Karen Young to ask them to reflect on the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, which was held in January in San Francisco. The conference has run for 37 years, and is, in some ways, a kickoff for the year ahead, offering careful observers early signals for subtle shifts in the industry.

"...As we really get into the New Health Economy, we’re starting to see the consumer coming to the forefront, and the consumer’s expectations are changing, and so are the expectations of industry in response. ."

HRI: Looking back, what struck you most about JP Morgan this year?

Kelly Barnes, PwC’s Global and US Health Industries Leader 

We’re seeing more health services companies at JPM, but it still has a heavy pharma presence, as it always has. We’re seeing more megadeals coming down for health services. We’re seeing more connections between health services and pharma. I think the common connection point is the consumer, and that evolving shift was evident at JPM this year.

Gurpreet Singh, Health Services Leader 

There was a noticeable increase in involvement from health services, and particularly providers, at the conference. They had a nonprofit track and it was more formalized than in the past. Many provider clients of ours participated, whereas they perhaps wouldn’t have in the past. We’re seeing more potential for collaboration between entities. We’re seeing organizations seek out nontraditional partnerships.

Karen Young, Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Leader 

I have been going for the last 10 years, and it is always about the latest deal announcement, who is doing what on innovation. That was the buzz this year too. Digital was everywhere. There was a lot of focus on the digital journey, creating opportunities for patient interactions, asking how you can continue to use big data and real world evidence.

Also top of mind was the oncology war. Who can be the best in that therapeutic category? Oncology continues to be a hot area we will hear about.

HRI: Karen, why is there so much energy around oncology right now?

Karen Young: The deals are creating the energy. It is a tough market, it is a tough therapeutic category to compete in. We are living longer, and we are also dealing with more complex health issues, not just chronic conditions, but also areas like cancer that become more challenging and complex. The science gets back to the nuts and bolts of how the industry created itself.

HRI: Like Karen noted, there was a lot of talk about digital therapeutics and digital health, which was one of our top health industry issues of 2019.

Gurpreet Singh: Much of the conversation was around the idea of how do I create new therapies and modalities that are beyond the pill? Are there opportunities to either enhance drug sales and/or create new business lines?

Many pharmas were looking for ways to make that happen. Similar to the reasons for health services organizations attending, for pharmas, being in this environment enables them to make relationships with new entrants. Many are interested in these collaborations, especially around the digital space. So I saw a lot of innovation officers and digital officers attending. It wasn’t just the CFO and the CEO, but corporate development, innovation.

HRI: Kelly, you said we’re seeing more evidence that the consumer is emerging as the common connection point for the industry. Can you talk about that?

Kelly Barnes: We’re seeing this more and more. Much of the industry is still a B-to-B model. But as we really get into the New Health Economy, we’re starting to see the consumer coming to the forefront, and the consumer’s expectations are changing, and so are the expectations of industry in response.

So, for example, pharma remains focused on drug efficacy. But the conversation is shifting and it’s not sufficient to say to a payer ‘I am the superior drug.’ The argument is shifting to, my value rests at the consumer level in terms of outcome and engagement beyond the pill. The focus on the consumer is happening in other areas too, such as clinical trials. The value chain is interconnected and the strongest connector is the consumer. This was evident at JPM in the many conversations we saw around collaborations between providers and pharmas and new entrants.

For more on HRI’s projections on the trends that will shape 2019, please see our flagship report, Top health industry issues of 2019.

Contact us

Karen Young

Karen Young

US Health Industries Leader, PwC US

Gurpreet Singh

Gurpreet Singh

US Health Services Leader, PwC US

Glenn Hunzinger

Glenn Hunzinger

US Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Leader, PwC US

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