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For as long as we can remember, healthcare has been about disease care. Johnson & Johnson’s big ambition is to challenge the status quo of that premise, and understand how we can prevent, intercept and ultimately cure disease. This emphasizes the importance of focusing on early touch points, early interventions, and continuous engagement of audiences to help mitigate global disease and the burden of avoidable healthcare cost. Sarah Fisher, Senior Director of Global Markets and External Innovation at J&J stresses “Why do we have to wait for symptoms to be present in order for us to engage with people?” 


Who is behind this ambition? 

At J&J, the Global External Innovation group is driving this ambition by trying to address the questions around prevention and health, early interception of disease, and what would be most effective for the next wave of treatment. Sarah Fisher has been working 17 years for the company, always working on building new business platforms in global markets.  She works on strategies for taking novel software backed technologies and introducing them into global markets post-clinical and pre-commercial. 

In today’s cost constrained environment, innovation related roles are not always a popular place to sit inside a corporation. Fisher highlights that it’s necessary to understand what it takes for new technology adoption to work and that not everything ends up in utilization, making healthcare both a game of behavioural economics and behavioural change. The innovation team does a lot of marrying of the internal environment to the external, acting more as a translator between the inside and the outside world.  


What professional achievements come with working in Innovation? 

For Fisher, the biggest achievement is being able to stay grounded. She has continued to operate for 17+ years in the largest healthcare company in the world and within the dynamic healthcare environment. It’s difficult to do, but she finds guidance from strong sponsors within the organization, as well as inspiration and challenge as she navigates the external environment.  


What hopes lie for the future? 

Fisher finds that in the investment community, diversity of thoughts and representation is still far too low. She believes that healthcare will be better addressed by having more diversity in the investment community, not simply for diversity sake, but because investment approaches themselves need to be challenged and updated with new thinking. Whether that relates to the growing interest in women’s health or simply challenging the approach to market diligence with new approaches leveraging data science and machine learning capabilities, the investment environment is due for change. Fisher encourages many investors to start thinking about how to include strong, competent, and diverse candidates as part of their approach to portfolio selection and investing.