Can science be deployed to provide improved and cost-effective health care? Lee Hartwell posed this question in his opening remarks at the second annual Pacific Health Summit, presented by the Hutchinson Center and the National Bureau of Asian Research on June 20.
"I believe so," Hartwell told 300 scientists, physicians and executives from several Pacific Rim nations assembled in downtown Seattle. "But only if we redirect resources from ineffective and expensive management of late stage disease to prevention, early intervention and more effective, individualized treatments."
In his welcome, Hartwell said combining resources is essential and that the globalization of business, where different segments of the business pipeline are positioned in the countries where they are most efficient, is a good model to consider.
"For medical research our pipeline moves from fundamental understanding, to applied research, clinical research, commercial development, regulatory approval, and implementation in the health-care system," Hartwell said. "None of us executes all of these steps well. Looking at the United States, I would say we are good at fundamental research and commercialization, but we are weak in applied research and implementation. Also, we overemphasize pharmaceutical solutions compared with prevention and diagnostics. We could be more effective by working with other countries that complement our weaknesses."
The two days of meetings that followed tried to flesh out some of the how and why of a new health-care paradigm and why the globalization of health-care research is important. Participants tackled subjects such as how to pay for better health, preparing for the next pandemic, the role of information technology in 21st century health care and the novel Early Health Index — a way to measure health as an outcome of investment in prevention, early detection and early disease treatment.
Hartwell said the second year of the summit eased some of the growing pains of the inaugural event.
"Last year we got acquainted and identified an enormous number of problems in health care. I think we ended on a note of skepticism about whether this forum could contribute significantly to these problems," he said during his closing remarks. "But projects began last year and you have come back this year and some new, talented people have joined us."
"The second year feels quite different. Many of you have expressed enthusiasm for the relationships you have formed at the meeting and the progress that has been made on a number of our projects. This year we are more focused in our intent — on the needs of policy makers to navigate through the plethora of new science in the interests of improved and cost effective health care. We are ending on a much more optimistic note that this summit can make a contribution."
The Pacific Health Summit is sponsored by several corporate partners in informatio