Water, Public Health, Fixing Healthcare Using Systems-Based Design Tools

by | Apr 4, 2019 | health and well being, High Impact Investing, Integrated Capital, Social Innovation, sustainable investing

There is much discussion these days about how to “fix” healthcare with some of the brightest minds across disciplines working on this issue.  What is truly amazing is how some of the most basic issues are not discussed at all.  Every day we read about drug pricing, finding ways to switch to less expensive generic drugs… Reading all these articles, one would think the answer to all our healthcare problems starts and finishes with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.  I mean no disrespect to the brilliant scientists working on important, breakthrough treatments. I have spent most of my career analyzing and investing in novel science and technologies that solve important problems.  

The systems-based design investment approach (based on natural systems) that I have discussed and written about numerous times in these blogs is really a paradigm shift for entrepreneurs and investors for one very important reason.  When you look at big complicated problems from this perspective, there is no hiding from the truth.  There is no making up a bunch of quick bullet points and twitter comments to win an election or cover up a problem that may cost certain corporations large sums of money.  We are dealing with large public health issues that demand immediate attention.  We need objective information on the true nature of the problems before we can come up with the right solutions.  The information is all out there hiding in plain sight, but it is in disparate places and each issue is discussed separately with completely different experts and groups rather than looking at the interrelationships between the different public health issues. These issues are far too large to be discussed as part of political ideology.  What we typically do not see or read in these articles is any real attempt by big industry players to draw these systems-based maps on these important public health issues.  A big part of the reason for this may be the loss in sales of big products that may not actually be the true answer to some of these serious problems if we look at the nature of the problem in a new light, the root cause of the problems rather than just dealing with the effects.  Other issues may be the potential loss in sales of products that have large safety issues.  Or maybe it is just not as lucrative or career boosting as pouring billions of dollars in new genetic engineering drugs.  Nonetheless, shining a light on these issues with global interdisciplinary teams of experts with these systems-based design tools completely changes the game.   

Fortunately, the entrepreneurs today are very smart, especially the younger ones.  There are now a generation of people who very naturally think in this systems-based way.  It is innate and normal to them.  The technology and social networking trends make it easier for them to learn about a wide variety of subjects and come up with potential solutions. We are officially in the age of transparency.  It is very inspiring to watch this in action and gives me much hope during darker days when I look at the news in the world and just want to just crawl under my bed. 

I am attaching below a range of articles concerning water.  These articles are from the US, not developing economies which makes the subject particularly troubling.  There are articles about the EPA (not flattering ones…), articles about dirty water in a NIH hospital (very weird and hard to understand), articles about industrial pollution, articles about poor communities who have brown water coming out of their taps……. 

I chose water to discuss as an important example of the large public health issues we have right here in the US.  Water is critical to life and it does not take a PhD in physics to make the connection that dirty toxic water makes humans sick, animals sick, everything in nature unbalanced.  It may be good for hospital sales and good for companies that make drugs for infectious disease, cancer and immune-based diseases, but it is certainly not the kind of positive GDP we need now or in the future.  Negotiating discounts on expensive drugs to treat all the illnesses that arise from this issue kind of misses the point.  And this is just one public health issue.  We have more….