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  • Company: Valtech
  • Theme: Health, Human-2-Business Transformation
  • Name & Title: Rasmus Rask, Lead Business Designer & Futurist
  • Topics: Global Exhaustion, Global Regeneration, Human-2-Business (H2B), Redesigning Healthcare Systems, Valtech's Meta-study, the PPP Coalition (Public-Private-People), COVID19 and NCD's

How does health, humans and business relate?

Our esteemed Health expert and proclaimed Futurist, Rasmus Rask, discusses how and why our healthcare systems stand in front of a transformation, where commercial players could and should occupy much more space and take more responsibility.

As this podcast provides revolutionising ideas and complex lines of thought, we believe it is best served with supplementary text. Therefore, you'll find the content of the podcast as a written blogpost below.

"With the right leadership and accountability, we can strengthen health services to not only prevail the pandemic, but to dramatically improve the treatment and prevention of NCD's in the future."


The current situation after the most turbulent year for Human healthcare

The legitimacy of leaders worldwide has been damaged in recent years by ongoing scandals across politics and business. Furthermore, they have failed to address systemic challenges such as climate change, growing inequalities and increasingly broken health care systems. According to historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari, irresponsible politicians have deliberately undermined public trust in science, in public authorities and international cooperation. As a result, the most critical outcome of the pandemic - due to lack of inspired leadership - could be greater disunity and mistrust among humans. This scenario would constitute - what I refer to - as Global Exhaustion.

But there is a silver lining. The infectious disease COVID-19 knows no distinctions and no boundaries. We have all shared the same OMNI-experience, witnessing a system put on hold everywhere in the world from one day to the next. We have all feared for the lives of our loved ones and questioned if the system would be able to sustain us. We have learned - the hard way - that coexistence is vital for our wellbeing and that one man's actions have vast implications for the collective response in times of a crisis. We have experienced how complex systems are interconnected and how their wholes and parts depend on each other. We have sensed that our existence is symbiotic and that individual needs and those of nature itself are deeply intertwined. Maybe for the first time, in our life-time, we have realised that nothing - no one - exists in isolation. That being human is fundamentally about transcending a purpose beyond self-interest. This holds an unlimited potential of solidarity that can positively stretch the accountability of populations, welfare models, political and educational systems as well as the corporate world. This scenario would constitute - what I refer to - as Global Regeneration.


The collective response of global firms and public bodies

Between March and May 2020, Valtech conducted a meta-study of 165 selected articles published across 30 global media outlets, representing a wide range of expert views from diverse fields such as economics, sociology, anthropology, medicine, history and philosophy. 

Our objective was to identify early patterns of a new normal in the collective response to the pandemic. How we must learn, unlearn and relearn from even the most severe circumstances to replace and regain trust. How we have experienced COVID-19 - initially one by one and then collectively in larger numbers. In other words, we tried to map the OMNI-experience of the pandemic.

The study revealed that COVID-19 set an unprecedented premise for the human condition and triggered a fundamental shift in perspective from macro to micro - from nations and governments to individuals and communities. 

The first-wave experience of the imposed isolation has offered us time-out not only to absorb the immediate danger of the outbreak but also to reflect more deeply on what we are attached to and what we are ready to give up as human beings. We have had an opportunity to contemplate just how vital coexistence is in our lives. We have stepped away for a brief moment from performing in the world, to prioritise our being in the world. We have entered a deconstruction phase that involves letting go of obsolete behaviours and ways of thinking—initially one by one and then collectively in larger numbers.

The second-wave experience is one of systemic disbelief. When a crisis sets in, people traditionally look for guidance from the systems that uphold society be it governments, corporations or religious institutions. These load-bearing pillars typically respond by reassuring the public that things are under control and that they will use their power to deal with the situation at hand as long as everyone continues living their everyday lives. COVID-19 has been different in that sense. The level of systemic powerlessness and unpreparedness is displayed in the open for everyone to see. People in positions of power have had to acknowledge that they are making up the route as they go along and that many questions will remain unanswered in the short term. The first message communicated was: We don't know the origin or the extent of this virus. We don't have a vaccine or any treatment available. To preserve the system, each individual must stop their everyday activities and isolate to contain the virus. Subsequently, the overwhelming collective response has been to question societies' long-term capacity to sustain its inhabitants.

The third-wave experience is that the economic and social implications of COVID-19 reveal widely disparate abilities to prepare and respond. The strong are more likely to stay healthy; the weak are more likely to succumb. Lower-skilled workers are more prone to job losses or a reduction in working hours. The lowest income quintiles are among the most disadvantaged groups in terms of adequate access to healthcare. People with disabilities and stigma are at increased risk of developing severe diseases or emotional distress. The effect of social determinants is super-amplified, and there is an imminent risk that it will lead to mass-exhaustion in large parts of the population.


The idea and concept of 'Human-2-Business'.

As a futurist, I look for shocks, slides and aftershocks. 

A shock is an unpredictable event that carries a massive impact instantly. A shock can happen from one day to the next. COVID-19 is a shock! 

A slide is a predictable event that carries a gradual impact over a period. The severe long-term impact of a slide can be seen from far away. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) - like cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes - is a slide!

An aftershock is when the immediate impact of a shock amplifies the gradual effect of a slide. So what is the interplay between COVID-19 and NCDs? I think that is a fascinating question. 

According to a recent editorial in the Lancet, COVID-19 has shown that many of the tools required for fighting a pandemic are also those needed to fight NCDs: disease surveillance, a robust civil society, clear communication and equitable access to resilient universal healthcare systems. 

There is no better place to start by understanding how the COVID-19 OMNI-experience can be repurposed by design to defeat NCDs. If we can successfully repurpose the COVID-19 experience, we can better respond to the increased disease burden associated with non-communicable diseases (NCDs). 

I think this is a golden opportunity for commercial players within health to step up and take public leadership. The belief that everything was fine before disaster struck, and that all we need to do is return to things as they were, is simply unsustainable. That will lead to Global Exhaustion instead of Global Regeneration. 

Peter Drucker, the world's most prominent management thinker, once pointed out that incongruities - a dissonance between what is and what ought to be - are opportunity spaces to create something new and relevant. Opportunity spaces for innovation will lie in the intersection between what is and what ought to be. Commercial stakeholders will seek to both create new markets based on new demands while they enter into broader coalitions to improve human lives at scale. 

Commercial health players must step up and facilitate and sponsor public-private-people coalitions (PPP coalitions) based on a shared plan of action. With the right leadership and accountability, we can strengthen health services to not only prevail the pandemic but to dramatically improve the treatment and prevention of NCDs in the future. 

The bottom-up response to the pandemic potentially holds the key to reform the healthcare system. According to Douglas Rushkoff, digital theorist and host of the podcast Team Human, we can develop the cultural immune response required to face such a challenge together, by utilising the autonomous and microlocal capacities of digital ecosystems. As Point of Care (PoC) shifts away from analogue, we can use our emerging digital sensibilities to enable an out-of-system ability to create more meaningful experiences and to produce regenerative health outcomes. 

Let me repeat. Human-2-business an accountable coalition of health providers enabling our out-of-system ability to create meaningful experiences that produce regenerative health outcomes. 

The redesign of healthcare systems will enable us to reflect on what we are most attached to as humans. How we can drive positive change through our autonomous actions, and how we can proactively protect ourselves from the inequalities of the world. We can further increase and enable the health experience via holistic use of services, data and technology. Holistic offerings put forward by PPP coalitions. With the emergence of such transformational Human-2-Business (H2B) models, transactional B2B and B2C models will need complete reimagination. 

Valtech has developed an H2B innovation framework that can serve as a conversation starter and bring PPP stakeholders together in workshops and innovation programs to explore mutual self-interest and experiment with new ways of operating. So far, the initiative has sparked interests among some of the biggest companies in the health industry. There is, however, still a long way to go. 


Making Human-2-Business tangible for companies and governments

As mentioned earlier... The biggest game-changer in health is the shift in Point of Care (PoC) from analogue to digital and from in-system to out-of-system. This transformation will articulate an undeniable demand: That a human being facing health challenges should always be the centre of all interactions, and that all stakeholders should collaborate based on a shared interest to produce positive health outcomes for that person. 

This also means that Human-2-business is relevant everywhere in health. As a strategic framework. As an innovation lighthouse. As incremental improvements of an existing health experience. 

There is no excuse. It is time to deliver. We can use health to build unity and trust among humans. Human-2-business is the way forward. Both on a strategic, tactical and operational level.


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