Huma Appoints Kaushik Gune as Head of U.S. Healthcare Business to Promote Adoption of Digital Health Solutions
Earlier this year, Kaushik Gune joined Huma as our new Head of Healthcare (US). Kaushik has over 20 years of operational, financial and strategic experience in companies such as McKinsey & Co, NuVasive and United Airlines. Before joining Huma, Kaushik was responsible for building Smith+Nephew’s digital health business within the musculoskeletal space.
We spoke to Kaushik about his perspectives on the future challenges and opportunities for digital health companies in the US.
Could you tell us a bit about your background and how it led to your current position at Huma?
Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked across a number of high-profile companies in operations, finance, strategy and commercial roles, and I’m excited to be able to use my knowledge to support Huma to build its expertise and expand its offering in the US. During my time at Smith+Nephew, I bought and commercialised digital health technologies and helped shape the US reimbursement landscape through this work. This type of experience is critical to navigating the complexities of the US Healthcare system.
On my decision to join Huma, one of the biggest driving factors for me was the technology itself. Huma’s platform is incredibly versatile and has huge potential to be applied across disease states and used by different types of patients. The digital health sector has recently come under fire for a lack of clinical robustness. Seeing Huma’s investment in science and research, as well as care and attention to regulatory requirements, I believe Huma’s platform offers something very unique in the digital health space.
What are Huma’s ambitions for US healthcare?
We want to build on the success we’ve had in healthcare within the UK, Germany and the Middle East, to support people in the US to live longer fuller lives. We recently acquired AstraZeneca’s digital health platform, AMAZE. We are excited to be working with one of the largest biopharmaceutical companies and aim to leverage the strong foundations and early success of AMAZE to accelerate digital-first care. We’re also looking to secure other strategic partnerships like this in the US as we continue to scale.
Our vision is to become a top digital health player in the US, and to do this we believe it’s important to continue to expand and build our team in the US. We understand the importance of on-the-ground expertise, especially in healthcare, and believe it is essential for us to build our position as a trusted partner in the US.
You mention the importance of geographical expertise when it comes to healthcare. How does the US compare to other healthcare systems when it comes to digital-first care?
I think we’re starting to see the health system in the US evolve to become more integrated where hospitals and industry are now looking at healthcare from an overall disease management perspective rather than focusing on episode management. This is something we already see in other countries, where Huma operates such as the UK. As we move towards these new models of care, the role of digital health becomes increasingly important, helping to connect different services, and clinical pathways, to provide more holistic care for patients.
What are some of the big challenges digital health companies, like Huma, will need to address over the next few years?
Data privacy will continue to be a big challenge that digital health companies will have to get right. In the wake of Roe v. Wade, protecting health data will be an issue that’s top of mind for governments and regulators. Patients and the rights of patients have to be at the core of our thinking when it comes to data privacy. Once we have this starting point, we can begin to figure out how to structure data sharing and collaboration to maximize innovation.
Another important topic for the US specifically will be navigating reimbursement and the shift towards value-based care. We’ve taken some steps forward with this, with CMS recognising that things need to be done differently and that digital health technologies need to be reimbursed, but we still have a way to go. Clear pathways for reimbursement must be created. If reimbursement models continue to lag behind innovation, there’s a fear that companies developing innovative digital health tools and delivering real-world value could actually end up being punished.
As the digital health industry becomes more established, there’s also an additional challenge in terms of external demands from those using and regulating these technologies. As digital therapeutics are playing a greater role in diagnosing patients and managing health, it’s vital to collect robust evidence and provide assurance that it’s safe and appropriate. Companies will need to start putting clear evidence-generation strategies in place to support the scaling of digital health.
What’s your vision for the future of digital health?
We know that around 95% of care for chronic conditions happens outside the clinical setting, which is why digital health tools that can provide real-world insights into a patient’s health outside clinic visits are vital. At the moment this technology is largely just being used to gather data, but the ambition is to use these tools to deliver more personalised, proactive and predictive care. To realise this potential we will need to drive collaboration between stakeholders across the healthcare industry such as clinicians, technology companies and most importantly, patients. At Huma, we don’t have a “do it all yourself” vision but we truly believe in the importance of partnerships in supporting our goal to help people live longer fuller lives.
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