BD - Earth day 2024


Aaron Villaruz

Aaron Villaruz

More about Author

AARON VILLARUZ is the Vice President of DePuy Synthes (DPS), Asia Pacific, the Orthopaedics company of Johnson & Johnson, where he oversees the delivery of a comprehensive orthopaedics portfolio in the region. Withmillions of people in Asia Pacific suffering from musculoskeletal conditions, Aaron is passionate about solving their healthcare  challenges. He is focused on leveraging DePuy Synthes’ strong tradition in medical technologies and digital surgery to introduce innovation and drive meaningful collaboration in the region.

The healthcare sector has seen a seismic shift in models of care with an emphasis on patient centricity. The advancement of technology and the pandemic have been accelerating factors in the decentralisation of care models, seeing a rise in remote care management and patient voices. This is a time when MedTech innovations are playing an integral role in enabling the shift towards patient-centricity in the region, and how such digital transformations can support the optimisation of patient and surgical outcomes across every step of the healthcare journey.

1. What is the importance of patient-centric models to healthcare systems in Asia-Pacific?

In Asia , the ageing population is expected to increase to 24 per cent by 2050, from 12 per cent in 2017. Patient demands are changing as this segment grows in the region, and they increasingly demand high-quality, integrated, and personalised care. Consumers are looking for a wider range of choices with more convenient, digitally driven solutions. So, as an industry, we need to evolve and adapt to meet these requirements.

Additionally, there are many upsides for healthcare systems to operate on truly patient-centric models. Going beyond traditional core offerings and proactively identifying unmet needs and pain points across the entire patient journey i.e., pre, during, and post-surgery can result in driving better outcomes and efficiencies along the patient care pathway, delivering value for patients, surgeons and hospitals. As a result, more patients can get the individualised care they need while supporting healthcare professionals to expand their knowledge and capabilities with the right technology.

2. What are the challenges in implementing new patient care models across Asia-Pacific?

Markets across Asia-Pacific are rich veins of health data. We need a lot more engagement between government and industry to unleash the power of that health data to enable early detection, prevention, and intervention, and collaboration to produce efficiencies across health systems for the benefit of patients, surgeons, and the healthcare systems. The most difficult thing, however, about new models is agreeing on the data or evidence required and being able to collect that data and demonstrate the outcome.

Governments and key stakeholders are still in the nascent stages of implementing and adapting to new models of care. Part of the reason is the increasing patient volume due to the ageing population and a backlog of elective surgeries post-pandemic, which makes it harder to look beyond traditional models. However, there is also a rising patient preference to minimise hospital stays and receive more of their care at home. This not only increases patient satisfaction but can also decrease medical costs. We need to ensure the system supports new care models rather than blocks them.

In Asia-Pacific, we are seeing curiosity and engagement from some governments in value-based care — Australia, Japan, and Singapore are notable in this region. We work closely with the Singapore Government to expand their understanding of these concepts and how to practically implement them in this market. This is more difficult in practice to implement than perhaps it needs to be, as it requires a fundamental rethink of how we fund and procure MedTech and needs willingness by all players to experiment and evolve.

Therefore, for true value-based care to create genuine and sustained efficiencies in the healthcare system, it is crucial to have an appetite for risk, curiosity and doing things differently for a greater return than the current systems allow. We need more trust and experimentation between government and industry, and greater access to the wealth of healthcare data we have in this region to deliver a better healthcare system.

3. What is MedTech's role in the shift towards patient-centricity?

As an industry, we need to focus on addressing the unmet needs through the entire patient journey i.e., pre-op, planning, post-operative monitoring, and recovery. Beyond developing medical devices to improve patient outcomes, MedTech companies must explore new ways to drive more personalisation and reproducibility throughout the continuum of care and develop new care models and programs that are supported by these technologies.

In Orthopaedic surgery, we are constantly striving to make surgery smarter and more personalised across the patient journey. We connect technologies that combine surgical knowledge and data insights to enhance the orthopaedic experience for patients, surgeons, and their teams.

By leveraging data for insights-driven decision-making, increased precision in treatment, and personalised care via robotic surgical tools and personalised post-operative care plans, we are improving patient outcomes and enabling surgeons to better serve their patients.

In terms of new care models, it’s more around healthcare systems having the right incentives in place to ensure efficiencies and outcomes. For hospital stays, often the system rewards a longer length of stay rather than getting a patient home to recover faster. We need to ensure the system supports new care models rather than blocks them. In Australia, for example, we have been working with hospitals to save costs by reducing the length of stay and enabling patients to recover faster at home. Within 18 months, based on a partnership with one hospital, we were able to deliver an average reduction in bed days of 1.5 days from an average of 4-5 days.

In a nutshell, innovation in MedTech should essentially address the question — how can we help patients recover faster and get back to living their best lives? When we do that, it will be hard to argue against a new standard of care.

--Issue 59--