“The digital revolution has the ability to democratize healthcare”: Dr Stanley M Bergman

TRENDS speaks to Dr Stanley M Bergman, Chairman and CEO, Henry Schein.

How is the Fourth Industrial Revolution impacting the health sector?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has a huge impact on the health sector. It has the ability to democratize healthcare. First, it is bringing healthcare right to people’s doorsteps and now, a lot of work can be done either through telemedicine or a mobile. Also, all of the devices that doctors use can now be connected together and to computers, so we have interoperability. It ensures that all of the data is in one place, so when the doctor sees you, he already has all of the information.

What is your opinion about the healthcare situation globally?

The biggest challenge in healthcare is the fact that the biggest spending goes to noncommunicable diseases and we are not doing enough to reduce them.

In other words, more exercise, healthy eating, more sleep, prevention – all of these are important. We need to have a better focus on that and only then will we have fewer non-communicable diseases, fewer people going to hospitals; the healthcare cost will automatically come down. Instead, we are spending a lot of money on the last six months of people’s lives. We need to prevent people from getting sick. It used to be sick care, then it moved to healthcare and now it is value care.

What is your main focus in the healthcare sector in the Middle East region?

Our focus in the Middle East is on dental or oral care. In the past 30 years, there has been an epidemic of unhealthy living because of candies and sweet items that are easily available to people. So people here have the worst dental situations. Oral care has direct correlation with other areas of health – pulmonary, cardiac, diabetes, obstetrics… They are all connected to one another. So what we are seeing in the Middle East is much more of an explosion as a result of candy. So our main job in the Middle East is to offer the best oral care and we are doing a good job. There are also many good dental schools in the Middle East.

How do you feel about the health sector after seeing Donald Trump coming into power in the US and saying he will change Obamacare and so on?

In healthcare, they may change the law and when they make a change, they’re going to pay for it, but they can never change prevention. The provisions of President Obama were to make sure everyone had a primary care doctor: that cannot change.