May 12

Kyle Poplin

Market Dynamics, Your Time Has Come: NextBillion Health Care launches a new initiative; let the debate begin

NextBillion Health Care is a growing community of practitioners, business leaders, entrepreneurs, academics and students dedicated to providing health care to the base of the pyramid.

The key term is “growing.” We want to continue to evolve as we reflect the changing face of health care enterprise worldwide.

That’s why we’re launching a new Market Dynamics initiative on our site.

It’s not as if we haven’t covered this topic before. We’ve recognized that inefficiencies in markets can prevent the production or consumption of life-saving products. We’ve heard about how a “vaccine strategy” started evolving 25 years ago. In fact, we’re seeing more and more blogs about market dynamics as people realize its importance in a healthier planet. Our new initiative is a recognition of that reality.

Global health care is crowded field. About 4 billion low-income people on the planet are in vital need of health care solutions, and an ever-growing number of entrepreneurs, armed with evolving technologies, are attempting to fill the need. But the market, particularly an emerging market, is not at equilibrium, where the supply adjusts to meet the need. It’s far more complicated than that.

The market itself doesn’t serve the poor. Prices for health care solutions are too high, or the quality too low, or the products are not adapted or even available for the poor. Those who study market dynamics wonder how those deficiencies can be addressed.

So, we thought it was appropriate to start this initiative by defining the term: Market dynamics involves multiple players “nudging markets so they can fulfill the needs of the poor; specifically, with physical products.”

We’re asking key players to give us their definition, and also how market dynamics affect them in pursuit of their goals. We’re including social enterprises, health practitioners, large health systems, NGOs and multinational players such as drug companies, supply chain systems and technology developers. In other words, everyone.

We hope to have some thoughtful panel discussions where key issues are brought forward. We wouldn’t object if these turned into healthy debates. The goal is not to highlight one model versus another. After all, market dynamics is a nuanced, complicated topic. Rather, the intent is to identify a variety of answers to as many questions as possible.

Numerous conflicts are built into health care market dynamics, including public vs. private concerns and local vs. global production. We want to delve into these topics – or, more to the point, provide a forum for the world’s foremost experts to delve into these topics.

Some of these experts have been involved in market dynamics for years. We’ll ask them about lessons learned, both good and bad. We’ll include people who help fund global health interventions; those who negotiate prices for funders; and those who create awareness and encourage debate about how markets can function better.

We want to hear about their experiences with price points, profitability, subsidies (and what, exactly, is a subsidy?), unintended consequences, and learn more about terms like “de-risking the downside” and what it actually means, from purveyor to practitioner to patient.

There are also newcomers in the field. We want to know about their experiences, too, as they confront and address inefficiencies. Do they see things differently through their fresh eyes?

In short, we want to be a platform for discussion and engagement that connects practitioners at all levels.

Given those parameters, it became obvious to us here at that Market Dynamics needed its own spot under the umbrella of health care. We gave it one. Now we need your help reaching our lofty goals.

Let us know about new business models and ideas for getting new (and old) technologies into low-income countries. Tell us when and how you see new thinking emerge around market dynamics. Share your stories of success and failure. The stage is set.

Coming tomorrow: Brian Smith, chief strategy and resources officer at Population Services International, explains how PSI has been using market-based approaches for decades to improve health outcomes.

Kyle Poplin is the editor of NextBillion Health Care.

Health Care
Base of the Pyramid, scale, supply chains, vaccines