Novartis — Take Action, Be Accountable, Change Lives: DAVOS 2020

Originally published on LinkedIn by Susanne Schaffert, PhD, President of Novartis Oncology

With preparations for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at Davos underway, I have been thinking about how we can make this year’s Annual Meeting the most impactful.

DAVOS 2020 is a fantastic opportunity to build bridges, share knowledge, and network with people from different professions and backgrounds. But most importantly, it provides an opportunity for us as leaders to take action, be accountable, and change lives.

 Global burden of disease

We know that the global burden of disease falls on developing countries. In addition to limited access to timely diagnosis and treatment, poorer prognosis, and higher mortality rates, according to the World Health Organization, around 70% of cancer deaths worldwide occur in the developing world.

Globally, cancer is a major societal issue and a growing threat to health. As we embrace a new decade, I believe now is the time to commit to a global strategy for healthcare, and specifically cancer management. We must strengthen current systems while improving preventative measures. DAVOS 2020 provides multiple opportunities for industry, organizational and world leaders to embrace this commitment.

 Setting the agenda for a new decade

I am looking forward to the insightful discussions, landmark decisions, and pledged accountability from all who attend so we can transform healthcare for millions of people across the globe. I am particularly intrigued by the following themes:

1. Value in healthcare provision

As the world’s population grows and lifespans increase, healthcare systems face growing demands. Many systems have payment models based on: volume of procedures, number of days spent in hospital, number of visits to a doctor, or medicines prescribed.

We believe that healthcare systems need to embrace value-based care, which means shifting from “paying per pill” to looking at long-term benefits over a patient’s lifetime. Diagnosing and treating patients quickly and effectively has huge benefits, both economic and otherwise, to the patient, the healthcare system, and society. To achieve this, we must break down silos in health system budgets, and look at opportunities to share both costs and savings. For example, a medicine that reduces post-chemotherapy hospitalizations may increase pharmacy spend while reducing hospital spend; we should have the flexibility to fund this treatment not just from the pharmacy budget but by looking at spending more holistically.

I believe that by fully embracing value-based care, we can provide greater access to medicines and potentially improve the lives of patients and their loved ones.

 2. Sustainability

This year, DAVOS 2020 marks the Forum’s 50th anniversary by launching a manifesto for a more sustainable capitalism and January’s meeting has a theme of, “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.” This really aligns with our ambition at Novartis of being a catalyst for positive change and a leader in environmental sustainability.

I am proud of our progress towards becoming carbon neutral in our own operations by 2025, and achieving plastic neutrality and water sustainability by 2030. But, sustainability is more than environmental sustainability. It is about developing a better and more sustainable future for everyone, regardless of where they live in the world.

The United Nations sets out 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. All of the goals are valuable, but some are really close to my heart, especially those relating to education, empowerment of women and girls, healthy lives and well-being, and reducing inequalities. I am looking forward to exploring how we can be more accountable in making these goals become reality.

 3. Collaboration and partnerships

At Novartis, we have a proud history of partnering and collaboration to help advance access to and the development of medicines.

Sometimes a collaboration may bring new therapies that help patients where there are no existing therapies. But partnering and collaboration offer much more – we partner with people and organizations to help improve patient journeys; increase access to medicines; discover, validate, and trial treatments; and explore emerging technologies to improve business processes.

Regardless of industry, if we have shared purpose, we can create unforeseen opportunities and unlock hidden potential. During this past year, for example, we have started exciting projects with both Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.

Focusing on the future

As leaders from diverse organizations, we have the opportunity to share insights and failures, engage in a variety of potentially life-changing topics, explore opportunities to collaborate, and learn about the actions that we can take to make the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals a reality. The even more powerful moment will be at DAVOS 2021, where we report back on how our shared accountability for action has affected the world.



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