Dr. Anita Gupta, Distinguished Fellow of the National Academies of Practice, faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, provides a fascinating career view into becoming a transformative, visionary leader during both the opioid and the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
As a Harvard and Princeton alumnae and highly endorsed as a frontline candidate for US FDA Commissioner, she is widely recognized as a pioneer in the cross-sector expansion of the opioid antidote, naloxone as co-chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologist Committee on Prescription Opioid Abuse. Dually appointed as a Distinguished Fellow of the National Academies of Practice, and the National Academies of Science’s Global Forum, authored one of the top 50 articles cited in 2021 on patient experience, digital transformation, and defined the digital patient journey, and the ‘digital touch’ experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. With her bold initiatives in pain, patient centricity, open innovation, and digital transformation, she shares her pioneering work on the vanguard of healthcare.
Healthcare leaders gain the opportunity to drive progress and culture and to bring cutting-edge, game-changing innovation by focusing on patients. The first step toward significant progress in creating strategic transformation is to have a great team. From the outset of the work, we made clear that all of our initiatives were to be proven to be transformative, patient-centric, and focused on performance excellence; toward that end, we equipped the teams to face key challenges and opportunities with confidence.
This requires building trust and reorganizing a leadership team, instilling a growth mindset, and nurturing a culture of open innovation to drive new growth opportunities. So far, all of our strategic initiatives have met with success, including the expansion of opioid antidote, building a Philadelphia-based pain center, leading executive strategy delivering an FDA breakthrough approval for a non-opioid alternative and delivering public health awareness on COVID-19 vaccine safety during the global pandemic.
Not only have we proved capable of launching and executing successful strategic initiatives for treating pain, we have also aligned on addressing the global pandemic crisis and growth initiatives across organizations with international leaders, focused on patient centricity.
My interest in open innovation started amid the opioid crisis in Philadelphia as a solution to the limited resources available to us. The need for open innovation was critical to driving access and equity. While in Philadelphia, I noted the vital importance of solving these challenges with open access to resources, transformational innovation, aligning with external partners and driving equitable access and health policy reform for the opioid crisis. This has also been an effective model for the current COVID-19 pandemic where open innovation globally has increased education on how to address the crisis on the frontlines and in real-time and create access rapidly worldwide for vaccines, testing, and public health awareness urgently.
By working on international crises, including policy matters related to COVID-19, we worked closely with a roundtable of international leaders to drive worldwide progress and bring cutting-edge, game-changing innovation to patients. For example, during COVID-19, we engaged with The Milken Institute’s FasterCures, working on a global emerging threats surveillance system focused on developing and implementing a framework that can monitor and track pathogens in the future, post-COVID-19. Using the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope to create an early warning initiative for emerging threats, to detect and respond to emerging pathogens with pandemic potential, and to leverage emerging technologies and scientific advances to do this.
As a healthcare executive, I continue to build a culture of open innovation in healthcare in order to advance equitable, accessible healthcare post-pandemic. To achieve this, we align with strategic public-private partnerships to drive access to complex clinical healthcare services, research opportunities, and academic programs. This open innovation model strives to help patients gain access to treatments, research, and expertise and drive and launch innovative healthcare delivery models. In addition, strategic teams and workgroups stay informed and are acutely aware of all the significant scientific advancements actively occurring both inside and outside our ecosystem.
In healthcare, it is vital to ensure that we have a collective focus on patients. Inspiring leaders on purpose leads to change. The unprecedented success can be attributed mainly to newfound resolve focused on patients and a sense of purpose in healthcare. Several of the strategic initiatives involved front-line crises requiring leadership commitment and rapid response in order to effect meaningful change. Especially during a significant global crisis, the entire organization takes its mission to heart and enacts the change in order to help patients have the best outcomes.
In healthcare, we distinguish ourselves by placing the patient front and center. We start every day with the patients’ best interests since their outcomes often impact our best interests and state of mind. With that in mind, people collaborate more, in almost every way possible. In a post-pandemic era, the growth mindset is essential and ensuring a spirit of purpose. Creating an environment of healthcare solidarity and collaborative action takes precedence – this has been one of my priorities. Raising the bar by creating ambition is one of my first actions as a strategic executive leader in healthcare to drive a growth mindset.
During COVID-19, there has been a rapid uptick in the use of digital innovation, including telemedicine and telehealth, with little or no training for the healthcare professional. In addition, patients and healthcare professionals are increasingly witnessing more use of digital devices in healthcare. These are essential advancements that are a disruptive technological force to healthcare delivery. These are driving significant advances and improvements in efficiency, but also potentially leaving patients and professionals behind. Creating a clear, concise plan for patients and healthcare professionals for this reimagined digital patient journey is an initiative at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering that I have been a vanguard with a team of global experts.
We are dedicated to patients to ensure they are in the center of all of the work we do each day. This tangible reminder that we explicitly position our work with patients and healthcare professionals in all of our activities and are attentive to incorporating patient feedback early on in the process. What we have done is to launch a Patient Experience Task Force explicitly dedicated to ensuring the patient is positioned right at the forefront of all of our activities and identifying the healthcare professionals who champion the best practices for this model of innovation healthcare. As a leader with a strong footprint in pain and COVID-19pandemic care, we establish strong relationships with our advocacy groups and building a coalition of advocacy groups, key centers, and regulators. This is an effort to develop an infrastructure to support behavioral, psychological and personalized medicine whereby treatments can be tailor-made to each patient’s case and genetic makeup.
We are at a critical point in our history of healthcare. Given the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid crisis, understanding that our future strength is in worldwide collaboration with open innovation will be vital. We are changing the way we do healthcare – advancing open innovation healthcare, patient experience, digital transformation, and healthcare policy - while involving patients every step of the way.