Making a Difference

The Next Generation of Self Care Will Transform Healthcare

By Alan Main, Executive Vice President, Consumer Healthcare

Alan Main

The Self Care environment is evolving rapidly and we have a unique opportunity to shape the future. In fact, if we do not, not only will we in the industry face major challenges from a regulatory, policy and business point of view, but consumers will suffer with potentially less access to products and solutions that can improve their health and well-being.

Beyond the demographic shifts driving greater demand for more accessible, better and affordable health care, advances in technology are creating unprecedented opportunities to fundamentally change the way consumers manage their own health. That means that everything we do as an industry to define and create the future of Self Care must put the consumer at the center of it all. In order to really respond to future needs, as an industry we have worked over the last few months to deeply understand these underlying trends shaping the market and to assess what the future could look like based on those trends. We then discussed what we, as an industry, need to do to ensure the best possible outcome for our consumers.

There is a lot we can do that is under our control. At the same time, there are a number of very important elements that require partnership and that we need to work on together whether we are industry or government. Change in regulation is key and we need to keep pace with technology and the demographic change which calls for more chronic disease management, more active ‘healthy aging’ and increased demand by consumers for personalized, convenient, transparent and affordable options.

Our industry continues to see a steady stream of challenges that could limit our ability to bring innovation to market and prevent consumers from having access to the products they need, when and where they need them. We need to help policy makers understand the value of Self Care in ensuring the sustainability of health systems, and build confidence that consumers can be adequately equipped with the right products and information to use them appropriately.

These reflections were a large undertaking over the last few months. We conducted deep research to look at the various factors likely to influence self-care. The report was conducted with more than 30+ participants from inside and outside of WSMI (WHO, FIP, Deloitte expert, PGEU…) and looking at both the certainties and uncertainties.

The certainties I mentioned above - technology, demographics – we all know. But, the uncertainties are significant.

  • How can we help regulators stay on top of innovation?
  • To what extent could authorities leverage self care to improve system sustainability?
  • How will the role of physicians and pharmacists evolve?
  • How will we deal with data. How will consumers want to deal with their data?

The World Self Medication Industry (WSMI)is ready to take these challenges on. Today I’m proud to take over as Chair of WSMI and work together with outgoing Chair Brian McNamara, CEO GSK Consumer Healthcare, and all our members to deliver on our bold agenda for change. Over the past few months, we have reflected on the various factors that are likely to influence the future of Self Care and defined a new strategy for WSMI that will position us to lead on what we are calling “Self Care: the next generation.”

For our part, we have created an action plan to achieve three strategic objectives:

  • Trust: Enhance trust across the self-care industry on the issues that matter most to our stakeholders, including through ongoing improvement of transparency.
  • Sustainability: Embed self-care as a universal building block of sustainable health, for individuals and systems.
  • Health data: Actively engage in the debate on the regulation and use of health data to enable the full value of self-care and self-care solutions.

If we can help shape the playing field in partnership with our stakeholders to realise the value of Self Care, adapt policy and regulation accordingly and unleash the amazing power to improve health through the responsible use of integrated data, then we can truly transform healthcare. More importantly, we will contribute to achieving universal healthcare as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Ultimately, if we are successful, all of us will become more empowered to make health-related decisions, manage our own treatment and improve our health and well-being, on our own terms.

We in WSMI invite you to join us on the journey to create the next generation of Self Care. And I for one would love to hear from you about your vision for the future.