Originally published at Pharmafield
Hassan Chaudhury, Chief Commercial Officer at Health iQ Limited, on the value of drive, resilience and a lifelong love of learning.
What do you do?
I’m Chief Commercial Officer and a co-founder at Health iQ. The company specialises in real world evidence for market access. We focus on insight; based on our heritage with healthcare data. The landscape is constantly changing, which means I’m constantly on the lookout for real world data assets and partnerships, which will support our clients in life sciences to better engage with healthcare professionals and payers around value, effectiveness, health outcomes and burden.
How did you get where you are today?
Most of my career has been in health and social care within NHS informatics, public health, commissioning and commissioning support. I began my career co-located between social work and primary care, and then became an NHS data analyst. I ended up on major pan-London digital health projects on acute contract monitoring and quality metrics, before compiling a definitive list of registries and clinical databases, in the UK, for the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership.
It was only after we set up Health iQ, in 2011, that I began working alongside pharma. This, fortunately, was also when real world evidence, for market access, was becoming prominent. I spent a few years travelling to pharma companies up and down the UK, meeting market access professionals face-to-face in order to understand their commercial challenges and discuss how real world data can help. Since then I have been part of a working group on health information at the ABPI and am now a Committee Member of the PM Society.
What are your career highs and milestones?
I’m lucky to have had many career highs. Helping Health iQ become number one in our space is something I’m so proud of. Most recently I’ve been awarded an Honorary Research position at Imperial College, London, for my work developing data science courses for their Global eHealth Unit.
What drives you?
I’m driven by wanting to do my best, simply because I take pride in that. Being internally motivated is important for resilience.
What’s the best piece of careers advice you’ve ever been given?
Work hard because talent alone is never enough.
How do you turn challenges into opportunities?
I think it’s all about perception and I’ve found it is easiest to take it in two stages. Firstly, I have the confidence that I can learn from any situation, particularly challenging ones – I genuinely don’t think it’s possible to be successful in a senior role and not love learning. Secondly, the fact that I’m still learning is no reflection on me and my strengths. I don’t take it personally – I just try to put it into practice and come back fighting.
What is the current state of the pharma industry and where can it go from here?
The value of innovative treatment is being scrutinised like never before, not least because of the perilous state of the NHS, and it will get worse. With public finances so strained there’s more attention on the pharma industry, particularly on treatment cost. This is leading to a downward pressure on how much healthcare systems are willing to pay, and data from industry-led clinical trials alone simply isn’t persuasive enough to halt the trend.
This means the industry is at a crossroads. Pharma has to take the initiative for there to be independent assessments of value, based on how effective their treatments and interventions are – or are likely to be – in routine clinical practice. We’ve already seen this with the Salford Lung Study, by GSK and North West e-Health. I think we will see more – eventually utilising data from patients’ homes and wearable devices across the internet of things.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d like to have led world-leading research in machine learning and artificial intelligence for healthcare at Imperial and also to have found a commercial output for it.
What advice would you give to someone entering the pharma sales industry?
Take time to understand the challenges. It is so important to realise that successful pharma sales often depend upon the interplay of multiple factors, from the clinical trial data for health technology approval to the clinical arguments needed to win over key opinion leaders. There also needs to be an appreciation of the financial incentives of providers to redesign services, enabling the use of one innovation over another.