Monday, April 11, 2011

What's Killing Pharma, With Some Lessons For Hospital IT

An excellent essay on the pathologies killing the pharmaceutical industry is at this link: .

The essay talks about mismanagement, marketing over R&D, management fads, ill-informed managers and many other issues we've discussed in one context or another here at Healthcare Renewal.

This paragraph in particular struck my eye for several reasons:

... Another good one [reason pharma is dying - ed.]: empowering IT departments to make scientists use the same infrastructure as the guy at the front desk. Rather than see that scientists often have different computing needs than other parts of the business, IT demands obeisance to the corporate norm. In doing so, they hinder the kind of innovation (e.g., Linux, GPU solutions) that used to regularly occur because scientists are quite computer literate, thank you. Instead, IT departments make it impossible for competent people to manage their own resources. They create obstacles instead of removing them. Machine was made for Man, not Man for the Machine.

The paragraph struck me because:

  • Replace "scientists" with "doctors" and you have defined a major problem with health IT In the healthcare delivery sector.
  • Finally, this bon mot is extremely apropos to both environments: "Machine was made for Man, not Man for the Machine."
Sixty years into the "computer revolution", pharma, healthcare, and the IT industry itself have not learned this simple lesson.

I have to believe in 2011 this phenomenon is at least in part due to an abundance of powerful computers relative to the supply of humans in these industries with densely-interconnected gray matter.

I think the author of the aforementioned piece agrees. He concludes:

... The film industry long ago recognized that what is important is talent. No one can predict what will be a blockbuster (drug or movie), but Hollywood has at least recognized that movie-making is a talent-based industry. Perhaps today’s pharma chiefs need to see themselves as latter-day studio heads—I’m sure they’d love that!—and come to the same conclusions. Define the vision, get and keep the right people, stop making it harder for talented people to do their jobs, give them the time and resources to be creative. Then maybe, just maybe, they would start curing pharma.

-- SS

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