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Life sciences trends in 2023: A conversation with Sheenu Kachru

Optum Life Sciences CEO Sheenu Kachru takes a closer look at life sciences trends in 2023 and what it means for the industry.

June 30, 2023 | 3-minute read

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Eric Fontana
Vice President Client Solutions
Optum Life Sciences

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“Let’s Talk,” a new series from Optum Life Sciences, offers thought-provoking insights and discussions that capture what’s on the minds of life science leaders. These articles feature biopharma innovators we work with every day — as well as Optum Life Sciences experts. We kick off this series with our CEO, Sheenu Kachru.

I recently asked Sheenu about her hopes for these conversations, her reflections on the past year, and her thoughts on industry developments so far in 2023.

To kick things off, what sparks do you hope to ignite through this “Let’s Talk” conversation series?

Capturing perspectives from across the industry will allow us to see different pieces of the health care puzzle, and shine a light on how those pieces do and don’t always fit together. In doing this, I hope we can highlight some of the priorities where different parts of the industry align, as well as some issues that I don’t think get enough attention. We’ll look at a lot of these issues through the lens of real-world data (RWD) and real-world evidence (RWE) as these have become increasingly foundational for everyone in our industry, with still a lot of running room ahead.

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Last year, you spoke on panels at Datavant’s Future of Health Data Summit and HLTH 2022 — and you hosted several executive roundtables. What were some of your key takeaways from those events?

When participating in industry conferences — and our own executive roundtables and several clients’ global town hall meetings — I’m always reminded of the value in having the various parts of the health care ecosystem connect with each other. It’s about understanding how we work together and looking for ways to do it better.

For example, how do different payers think about access or long-term outcomes tracking? When do they need more evidence and how might that impact their decisions? From the perspective of life sciences leaders, we need to figure out how to approach this by considering multiple stakeholders’ points of view.

Another issue that’s been surfacing a lot at conferences and roundtables is the evolving role of the clinician and the weight of the burdens that they feel. How can life sciences manufacturers and other stakeholders help reduce clinician burnout? And I’m not just talking about physician burnout — it’s the nurse practitioners, the frontline nurses and the home health providers, too.

Given the role of Optum Life Sciences in connecting the health care ecosystem, what increased collaborations do you expect to see as we go through 2023?

Value-based partnerships will continue to grow. I anticipate more innovation in how these collaborations work and in the problems they aim to address. Life sciences companies come to us with ideas for population health pilots that may help impact health outcomes at scale. Through our relationships within Optum, UnitedHealthcare and UnitedHealth Group, we’ve collaborated with multiple manufacturers on population health programs and on innovative outcomes-based contracts in migraine, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and more. I like how we bring together many parts of the health care ecosystem, and I see more opportunities for us to further this integration.

I also believe we’re going to see folks from different parts of the industry, including health care provider organizations, start gathering more intentionally to have honest conversations about where they get stuck when trying to use their own clinical data — and about innovative use cases for that data. These conversations are critical to helping the entire ecosystem gain more actionable insights from de-identified patient data, so I’d consider progress here a win for everyone.

What topics should we expect to see in “Let’s Talk?”

As I mentioned previously, the workforce continues to be a concern for me. There will also be a lot to discuss as the U.S. biosimilars market expands this year. And finally, we need to continue our efforts in health equity. We’ve spent the past couple of years focused on making it more meaningful and real. It’s now time to share our learnings and continue tackling inequities in the health care system writ large.

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Check out more "Let’s talk" interviews on other topics.

Read here

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