Alliance Blog

SoCal can be a living laboratory for healthcare innovation due to its scale and diversity

On September 22nd, the Alliance convened a world-class leadership roundtable discussion which brought together a broad array of healthcare executives to discuss “Innovating for an Increasingly Patient-centric Healthcare System of the Future.” As we often do for life science programs, we partnered with our close collaborator Dave Whelan from BioscienceLA who graciously provided their Collaboration Hub in Culver City as the amazing venue for the event which was generously underwritten by Jo Bhakdi at Quantgene

Joining us were leaders from several large hospital systems, representatives from big pharma, corporate innovation leaders, and industry-focused venture capitalists. Alex Azar, the 24th Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, started us off with a short address on the structural challenges burdening our healthcare system. That was followed by a group conversation focused on possible strategies and solutions to these obstacles which was moderated by Andy Slavitt, General Partner of Town Hall Ventures & Biden COVID Response Advisor.

Secretary Azar laid out what he saw as fundamental challenges impeding both access to care and lower costs. In particular, he cited the lack of pricing transparency, the disconnect between the customer and the payee, and the lack of effective information sharing between providers. Though the challenges seemed quite daunting, Slavitt quickly turned the tide by asking the group if they could cite significant innovation in healthcare in their own spheres. Folks mentioned the use of smart watches for managing asthma, high impact healthcare animated education for kids (for example Brewster the Rooster) and a breakthrough CAR-T cell treatment for cancer to mention a few. 

Slavitt brought us down to earth again when he asked how effectively these innovations were being adopted and propagated through our broader healthcare system. Most confessed their successes were only scratching the surface with respect to impact. A highly engaged conversation ensued about the possibility of SoCal being a living laboratory where we could potentially work together as part of a unified cross stakeholder collaboration to support a few of these innovations and better identify and address the key friction points preventing broader adoption and impact. The group agreed that SoCal had both the diversity and the scale to serve as an effective model of the broader healthcare system. The buzz and excitement over potential collaborations continued while we socialized over cocktails and a wonderful al fresco dinner in the BioscienceLA courtyard. 

This gathering once again reinforced our belief that SoCal has all the critical ingredients to address global innovation challenges. Furthermore we generally share a collaborative and cooperative culture that is critical to working across silos required to move beyond pure innovation to achieve impact that we are all seeking. Towards that end, Dave Whelan and I plan to brainstorm on what we can do to promote and grow the SoCal ecosystem in order to accomplish the admirable goals the evening’s group hoped to achieve. 

A special thanks to both Alex Azar and Andy Slavitt for their leadership and the group as a whole for their generous and open attitude. More to come!