Critical Trends in Healthcare and Harnessing Them for Success

That was a key topic addressed at the recent Vanguard Forum for Healthcare Leaders in New York City. The Forum brought together 70 executives: a faculty of today’s CEOs, board members and thought leaders to share their experience with an elite, invitation-only group of senior executive delegates.


The Critical Trends session was moderated by Jonathan Rockoff, Staff Writer, The Wall Street Journal. Faculty included Jeff Berkowitz, Past Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group; Shabbir Dahod, President and CEO, TraceLink, Inc.; Peter Hecht, CEO, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals; and Paul D. Rubin, Partner, Healthcare Group, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.


Much of the session considered the challenges faced by the pharmaceutical industry and how they could be overcome. Rockoff kicked off with the provocative questions: “Why is pharma cast as the villain? Why does it have so much trouble getting its message across?”


The cost of drugs was the clear answer, and there was a spirited debate that included both panelists and delegates on perception versus reality. Rubin said: “Pharma has been tarnished by handful of incidents where drug prices have been perceived as unnaturally high. This was the case with some orphan drugs. It harms the whole industry but is not indicative of what’s happening overall.”


Hecht cautioned that pharmaceutical companies must understand perceptions about price. “If you have a copay at the beginning of every year, patients feel it and every drug seems overpriced.”


In response to Rockoff’s question about what the industry could do to change those concerns, Hecht responded: “We may think we are providing value but we haven’t done a very good job of connecting value to price.”


He also said the issue was beyond one of perception. “There’s room for innovators to get more efficient about how they make drugs. Margins in the future will be much tighter, but it can still be a good business model.” In fact, he believes that the industry is ignoring the need for cost containment. “Gross margins will be cut in half,” Hecht predicted.


Both panelists and delegates contributed to a discussion of risk versus reward in drug development. Andrew Thompson, President and CEO of Proteus Digital Health and a Forum faculty member said, “it took 12 years for us to get Proteus Discover approved. That’s well within the average.”

But advances may not continue to be rewarded by the marketplace. Berkowitz asked: “How do you price innovation? The industry comes up with a scientific difference and hopes someone will pay for it.” He added, “there aren’t very many industries where a 10% cost increase makes you seem like a hero.”


Rockoff asked whether healthcare industry consolidation could help.


Berkowitz responded: “In the US, we like to think of ourselves as not having a national health system, while we actually have two pharmacy chains and five insurance companies. We are national in many ways. Horizontal consolidation builds scale, while vertical integration creates unnatural partnerships, but is forcing conversations instead of silos.” He suggested bringing together pharma, payors, consumers and other groups to create a value proposition. “Now it’s mostly lip service,” he said.


Dahod, who called himself an outsider coming from the high tech industry, cited a number of inefficiencies in the current pharmaceutical landscape. “There’s a lack of transparency, which can cause problems as severe as counterfeit drugs. There’s a huge opportunity to integrate the supply chain and financial reporting.”


Rockoff asked: “How difficult would it be for a disruptor to come from outside?”


Dahod said: “Amazon could have a patient-centered approach. They are predominantly a customer-centric organization. That could be a real advantage.”


Rubin responded that there are high regulatory barriers to entry. “This is a slow process with all kinds of barriers. It could take years. It’s different than Amazon’s other businesses.”


In looking toward the future, Rockoff suggested that senior leaders may want to reach out – both within healthcare, and to other stakeholders. Berkowitz agreed: “I’m always surprised that pharmaceutical executives don’t go out more to talk to other players in the healthcare ecosystem.”


Hecht agreed: “The first step is understanding the reality of the landscape from diverse points of view.”


Thompson added: “We’ve built systems to deal with disease and trauma. Now we need to build a healthcare system. In the future, the smartphone will be the most profound care coordinator. Technology will close the gap and enable consumers to make better decisions on when and how to use drugs. In 20 years we will laugh at the idea that people continued to put drugs in their body without knowing if they work.”


The Vanguard Forum For Healthcare Leaders is the unique program helping to develop the leadership capabilities of the next generation of top executives, across the healthcare ecosystem. The Vanguard Forums are created by The Vanguard Group for Leadership. To learn more about both, go to


The ‘Investible CEO’: Driving Change and Creating Value

Jamie Heath is Managing Director in Deutsche Bank’s Global Healthcare investment Banking group, providing strategic and financial advisory services to Life Sciences clients. He has 20+ years of M&A and financing transaction experience across large cap pharma, specialty and generics and diagnostics.

Ken founded and leads The Vanguard Group for Leadership, which works directly with CEOs and develops senior executives through Vanguard Forums. In advance of the next Forum for Healthcare Leaders on November 28 and 29 in New York City, where Jamie was on the faculty, they discussed the critical role of leadership in building the company brand and transforming organizations.

Read the full article on Linkedin here.


The Healthcare CEOs of Today Coach the Top Leaders…

Last week was the Vanguard Forum For Healthcare Leaders in New York.

It was quite the event.

David Pyott (Philips Board Member, past Chairman and CEO of Allergan) has attended perhaps hundreds of high level programs. Vanguard he said: “Was the best. Great format, great faculty.”

David is not one for overstatement, so we feel honored.

I founded the Vanguard Forum four years ago, with the mission of helping to develop the next top leaders across healthcare.

Read the full article on Linkedin.

Linkedin & More

Debevoise Healthcare Partners Join Faculty of Vanguard Forum for…

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP Healthcare Group partners Maura Kathleen Monaghan and Paul D. Rubin have been selected to serve as faculty at the 2017 Vanguard Forum for Healthcare Leaders.

Debevoise partner Paul D. Rubin will discuss critical trends in healthcare and partner Maura Kathleen Monaghan will lead a session about succeeding as an executive in today’s active board environment.

The Vanguard Forum for Healthcare Leaders, presented by The Vanguard Group for Leadership, seeks to engage senior leadership across the healthcare and biopharmaceutical ecosystem with top tier CEOs, advisors and other experts who help define and build leadership for the future. The organization brings together a network to share best practices, approaches and perspectives regarding leadership opportunities and challenges across the industry.

In addition to Debevoise’s Ms. Monaghan and Mr. Rubin, other faculty members at the Forum will include David Pyott (Philips board, former Chairman and CEO, Allergan); Ashley McEvoy, (Group Chairman, J&J); Jeremy Levin, (CEO, Ovid Therapeutics, former CEO, Teva); Tom Sabatino (EVP and GC, Aetna); Peter Hecht (CEO, Ironwood); and Ram Charan (CEO and Board advisor, and best-selling author).

Debevoise’s strategic partnership with The Vanguard Group for Leadership underscores the firm’s commitment to help healthcare businesses prepare and adapt to ongoing changes in today’s market. To help healthcare leaders stay current in this dynamic environment, Debevoise will contribute to Vanguard’s learning curriculum throughout 2018. Additionally, during January’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, Debevoise is planning an event that will explore the challenges facing healthcare leaders in the coming decade.

Debevoise’s Healthcare Group handles significant transactions and regulatory and litigation matters for pharmaceutical, life sciences and medical device companies, hospitals, financial sponsors, financial advisors and other key players in the industry. The Group’s transactional work includes mergers and acquisitions, financings, securities offerings, licensing, development and commercialization transactions. The Group’s litigation work spans investigations by U.S. government agencies; a broad range of civil litigation, including state and federal qui tam actions and class action litigation; compliance with U.S. regulatory requirements; advising boards of directors; and the defense of intellectual property rights.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a premier law firm with market-leading practices, a global perspective and strong New York roots. We deliver effective solutions to our clients’ most important legal challenges, applying clear commercial judgment and a distinctively collaborative approach.


See the full release here.


Navigating the Future: the Role of the CEO

Peter Hecht has served as the CEO of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals since co‐founding the company in 1998. Under his leadership, Ironwood has grown from a small group of scientists to a commercial biotechnology company.

Ken Banta founded and leads The Vanguard Group for Leadership, which works directly with CEOs and develops senior executives through Vanguard Forums. In advance of the next Forum for Healthcare Leaders on November 28 and 29 in New York City, where Peter will be on the faculty, they discussed the forward-looking role of the CEO.

Read the full article on Linkedin.

Linkedin & More

Vanguard Forum to Convene Top Healthcare Leaders of Tomorrow…

The next Vanguard Forum for Healthcare Leaders will take place in New York City on November 28–29 at the Parker Meridien Hotel.

Faculty Includes:

  • David Pyott, Board Member, PHILIPS, BIOMARIN, ALNYLAM; Past CEO and Chairman, ALLERGAN
  • Ram Charan, CEO and Board Advisor, Best-Selling Author
  • Ashley McEvoy, Company Group Chairman of Consumer Medical Devices, and Member of the Management Committee, JOHNSON & JOHNSON

Entering its fourth year, the invitation-only Vanguard Forum uniquely helps to develop the leadership capabilities of the next generation of CEOs and C-Suite executives, across the healthcare ecosystem.

Read the full article.


Building the Brand – The Role of the CEO

Michael Watras and Ken Banta have collaborated on major brand building projects — Ken as a senior executive, and Michael as leader of the strategic branding consultancy Straightline International.

Ken founded and leads The Vanguard Group for Leadership, which works directly with CEOs and develops senior executives through Vanguard Forums. In advance of the next Forum for Healthcare Leaders on November 28 and 29 in New York City, where Michael will be on the faculty, they discussed the critical role of leadership in building the company brand and transforming organizations.

Read the full article on Linkedin here.


So You Want to Be a CEO?

That was the focus of the Vanguard Forum for Healthcare Leaders, Europe, this past February.

The location was Mercers’ Hall, a majestic guild hall in the City of London. We brought together around 85 senior management delegates to spend a day with current and former CEOs, Board members and leadership experts.  In a series of intimate sessions and dialogues, we covered real-world challenges for CEOs and C-Suite executives, from working with the Board, to building a high performance top team, to leading on societal issues.

We are entering the fourth year of Vanguard since I founded it in New York City in 2014, but this was the inaugural Forum in Europe. So I was eager to hear what delegates thought about it. An acid test is to ask whether participants would recommend an experience to their peers. We asked that tough question – and 97% of the London delegates said they would! That was so good it was a bit astonishing. But we double-checked the numbers, and that’s what it was.

Read the Full Article on Linkedin