IFC Global Private Healthcare Conference 2019 Highlights

For the eighth time, IFC Global Private Healthcare Conference brought together leaders in private healthcare from around the globe. The theme of this year’s conference was Disrupting the Present, Building the Future—Embracing Innovation to Deliver Results. Two days of great networking and discussions took place in Miami, USA from March 27-28, 2019.

475 participants | 302 companies, institutions, and governments | 70% senior executives | 60 countries |

In this short inspirational video, some of the 475 delegates who came from all corners of the globe tell you how they are using the power of private health.

Opening Remarks

Delivering efficient, affordable care for all

Opening the conference, Elena Sterlin, Global Head of Health and Education at IFC, welcomed the participants to Miami. She noted this was IFC’s 8th global private healthcare conference and that the event has “come a really long way from a very small gathering in Washington, DC 16 years ago to what is today the leading conference on private healthcare in emerging markets.” She recognized the presence of 470 delegates from more than 60 countries and expressed a special thank you to the conference sponsors who made the event possible.

“Who is in the best position to deliver efficient, affordable care for all independent of whether they are rich or poor, powerful or without connections?”

A key overarching question for delegates, said Sterlin, is: “Who is in the best position to deliver efficient, affordable care for all independent of whether they are rich or poor, powerful or without connections?” A core belief at IFC, she added, is that private healthcare is essential to the good functioning of any healthcare system. That is why IFC has expended great effort over the past decade in explaining and expanding private healthcare in emerging markets. Looking to the future “we must be bold and we must harness innovation and technological advancement” to tackle the toughest healthcare challenges, “the most prominent one being fast growth in chronic disease,” she said.


Embracing Innovation and Disruption

Keynote speaker Daniel Kraft, Faculty Chair for Medicine at Singularity University, a Silicon Valley think-tank which he cofounded a decade ago, focused his presentation on the need for healthcare systems to embrace and utilize disruptive and innovative technologies. He said that systems can seem somewhat stuck in the past, operating a model “sick care” instead of “health care.”

Systems can seem somewhat stuck in the past, operating a model “sick care” instead of “health care.”

Data is being gathered on patients, but it tends to be intermittent and episodic, which creates a reactive system “where we wait for the patient to show up with a heart attack or a stroke.” Moving forward, the goal is to have more “precision care,” one where prescription drugs, for example, are effective for most of the patients who take them, not just some. It also means prioritizing wellness, prevention, and early diagnosis, and making therapies less expensive and more widely available.


Stephanie von Friedeburg, IFC Chief Operating Officer, announced the Ethical Principles in Health Care, a new IFC initiative aimed at creating a standard for all companies operating in emerging markets.

“We are envisioning that private health providers will voluntarily commit to these principles and that investors will place a premium on adherence to them. Sixteen organizations have indicated that they are early adopters. A year from now, we would like to see every one of your companies on our list of early adopters.”

IFC produced these principles in the firm belief that it is in the long-term business interests of health care enterprises to adhere to ethical principles: good for business, patients, staff and, ultimately, the right thing to do. The principles unpack in an accessible, methodical way the issues that health care organizations need to pay attention to in this area.

For full set of principles go to: www.ifc.org/epihc

Embracing Innovation and Disruption to Create Health Systems of the Future

Demand for health services is growing. Many health systems are struggling to keep apace with demand and must evolve. This key note session explored how embracing innovation and new thinking can build more effective health systems with active private sector participation.

Digital Health and Big Data

Unlocking Solutions for Better Outcomes and Access

With $15 billion invested in 2018, digital healthcare is a space that is growing rapidly and offers great potential for emerging markets. The panel unpacked latest trends and discussed how to scale up and integrate new technologies into existing systems, while tech developers gave live demonstrations of devices in action.

Quality in Health

Create a Culture, Not a Checklist

About one in ten patients in high-income countries is harmed by the care they receive in a hospital. That rate is likely higher in emerging markets, where one study suggests that more people die due to receiving poor quality care than die from lack of access to care. A panel composed of major healthcare providers from Africa and India examined how sometimes “culture beats structure” (meaning that providers do not follow through on quality protocols) and identified what it really takes to implement a quality culture.

Innovative Delivery Models

Creating Value for Patients

Innovative healthcare entrepreneurs in diverse markets, from Brazil to Egypt to Mexico to the United States, described the key ingredients that have enabled them to rapidly expand access to their services without compromising on quality.

Emerging Trends in Life Sciences

Bio Pharma, Complex Generics, Specialty Pharma

The pharma sector is at a crossroads. Once defined by a group of innovator companies typically from advanced economies spending billions of dollars on R&D and launching products, and generic manufacturers typically from developing countries launching generic versions as products went off patent, these lines have blurred. China is spending large sums on innovation and R&D, biologics innovators have acquired a large share of the biosimilars business, and on the market side, developing regions including Africa and Southeast Asia are experiencing a surge in demand for products.

The Health Sector in Emerging Markets

An Investors' Perspective

Four large-scale investors in private healthcare across diverse emerging markets gave their prognoses for sector growth for the coming years.

Women's Leadership in Health Care

Day 2 of the conference kicked off with a breakfast discussion on women’s leadership in healthcare featuring Ukraine’s Acting Minister for Health and three females in leadership positions in emerging market healthcare who were profiled in a newly-published IFC report on the topic. The panelists looked at challenges to advancing female leadership and suggested ways in which organizations and individuals can think differently on the issue.

Looking Forward with the Public Sector and Expectations of Private sector

With growing consensus around the need to strive for universal healthcare for all citizens, there is also growing acceptance that the public and private sectors must work together for this goal to be attained in the most cost-efficient way.

Embracing Medical Technology Innovation

Hype or Reality?

Three innovators discussed how medical technology can advance healthcare in emerging markets, while a fourth, India-based Tricog, provided a live demonstration of its remote heart monitoring system.

IFC Case Studies

The conference showcased interesting, successful business models through two series of fireside chats that featured the CEOs of a hospital group, an integrated healthcare provider, a diagnostics services company, a pharmaceuticals manufacturer, a vaccines producer, and a retail pharmacy chain. The companies were mostly IFC clients who have previously been profiled in our case study and web story series.

Technology in Health in Africa

With smartphones proliferating across Africa, along with internet access, the conference held a breakout session on health technology on the continent, bringing together four entrepreneurs and one expert on the topic. According to Robin Miller, Lead of Digital Technology Practice at Dalberg, there are great opportunities for tech to transform healthcare systems by making supply chains and service networks more efficient and harnessing digital data—both big and small.

Innovative Business Models Serving Lower Income Populations

Four innovators transforming the way healthcare is delivered to lower-income segments of the population shared lessons learned in developing their business models.

Innovation in Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Pharmaceuticals is a $1.4 trillion global industry, covering products and services. One sector expert and three pharmaceutical suppliers, each operating in a different region, described their markets and discussed the challenges and solutions associated with so-called last mile connectivity—the process of bringing pharmaceuticals to the patients.


The Right Solutions, the Right Investments

The final panel sought to pinpoint some core elements needed to build financially sustainable, affordable, high quality healthcare systems tailored for emerging markets.


Wrapping up the conference, Tomasz Telma, Global Industry Head for Manufacturing, Agribusiness, and Services at IFC, acknowledged each of the conference’s generous sponsors and thanked both participants for their energetic engagement, and the speakers and organizing committee.

“For us, this is a convening forum—an ability to bring together the thought leaders, operators, the policymakers every couple of years.”

If we wish to attain the goal embedded in the conference theme of ‘embracing innovation to deliver results’, he stressed that “we cannot expect to do this without the active participation of the public and private sectors.” His big takeaways from the discussions were first, that the quality of care is as important as access to care and second, that governments are increasingly understanding how private sector investors in this space can drive efficiencies and contain costs.


Showcases, Roundtables, Think-Tanks, Workshops

IFC organized several other initiatives and events in Miami on the margins of the plenary and breakout sessions. These included:

  • Tech Innovation Showcase: Twenty developers of innovative healthcare technologies and tech-enabled devices provided live demos and discussed their innovations with conference participants in a designated exhibition space.
  • Topical Think-Tanks: Five brainstorming sessions were organized with operators and experts on the following topics: Public-Private Partnerships, Biopharma, Health Tech, Insurance, and Senior Living. These think-tanks will form the basis for a series of upcoming briefs and White Papers.
  • Investment Impact Roundtable: An ‘Investors for Health’ roundtable discussion was organized, focusing on the impact that investors and investees can have as individual organizations, and the potential impact of investors working as a collective.
  • Universal Healthcare Workshop: On March 29, the day after the conference concluded, in partnership with the Health Care Management Department of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, IFC hosted a half-day workshop on what the private sector can do to implement Universal Healthcare.


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