From Sick Care to Health Care: Insights and Inspiration from Digital Health World Congress

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From Sick Care to Health Care: Insights and Inspiration from Digital Health World Congress

Dr. Susan Dorfman & Nicole Woodland-De Van

Chief Commercial Officer & SVP
Buying Services & Deliverables, CMI/Compas

“The cheapest patient is a dead patient.”

- From an anecdote shared by Kenneth Munie, Managing Director, Strategy Life Sciences, Accenture

The healthcare sector is facing a GLOBAL revolution. No matter what country you live in, the conversation is the same. Ongoing need to reduce the cost of care, higher service expectations from consumers/patients, and advances with big data in being able to predict disease faster and more accurately all point to the growing international focus on digital health. The use of such technology enables us to build out our focus and investment in health care (wellness planning) where we can proactively enable better health and disease prevention (or early diagnosis), while ultimately minimizing the cost of sick care (damage control) where we must reactively manage a disease once it has been diagnosed.

Digital health is not about having a Facebook or Twitter page or even an app. It is about creating a value constellation: value to the patient (e.g., 5.3 months more of disease-free survival for a cancer patient); value to the healthcare stakeholder ecosystem (e.g., billions in cost avoidance); and ultimately value to pharma (beyond the pill).

In a world where 4 million apps exist yet users only turn to 5 on a daily basis, a key performance indicator in digital health is becoming one of those 5 apps that gets used daily. And that is something we must become obsessed with as we prepare digital health solutions that address the constellation of varying stakeholder needs.

The Digital Health World Congress this week has been a source of inspiration for the healthcare industry as a whole, demonstrating growing successes, contributions and continued investments by hospitals, payors and pharmaceutical manufacturers in moving health technology from being a gadget to becoming a standard of care. While they may not be magic bullets just yet, clear demonstrations from organizations like Medopad, Echo, GSK, AstraZeneca, Google, NHS and Accenture have given proof that digital health can add clear and measurable value to improving care across the value constellation - making patients feel more confident in managing their health and/or illness and with that becoming part of a standard of care with HCPs.

With patients, payors and providers all expecting greater support and more informed experiences, digital health brings with it the ability to deliver true beyond-the-pill value creation for Pharma as part of the value constellation, while also enabling advances in pharmaceutical R&D through the use of partnerships, connected data and deep learning. Companies like Insilico Medicines are leading this pack, and have recently launched Longenesis (in partnership with Bitfury), which is a blockchain-based data marketplace that “provides modular toolsets coupled with integrated advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems to store, manage, and trade life data [derived from] social network data, health data and medical records.”

The topics of focus during the congress led us to three clear digital health opportunities that will move our industry towards the creation of a value constellation via the delivery of INTELLIGENT PHARMACEUTICALS over the next 5-10 years.

  1. Digital therapeutics are on the rise, which are becoming a standard of care in hospitals and institutions around the world. These include integrated beyond-the-pill solutions around education and literacy, disease mitigation, total treatment adherence, data-driven self-management, and patient/physician/pharmacist interaction support. Today, as companies start to apply digital technologies in healthcare, our approach seems to be to give the most costly and complex chronic patients these digital technologies to help them stay compliant and adherent to their drug therapies - meaning our current focus is to develop digital tools to help support roughly 25% of the patient population. Considering the high touch needs of that audience, we may be better suited to leverage digital technologies completely differently to service the 75% of the patients who would benefit from maintenance and/or preventative care (those needing health care); while giving physicians the time they need to personally give their attention on to those most in need (those needing sick care). This shift would be a big support to the idea of adding value constellations by lowering the overall cost of healthcare as well as bringing value to the patient.
  2. AI-led drug development is no longer science fiction! Artificial intelligence used in drug discovery and biomarker development is giving rise to a new kind of biopharma solutions provider and integral long-term partnerships that leverages data scientists, deep learning and artificial intelligence to help Pharma discover novel biological targets and molecules, as well as provide real-world evidence needed for clinical trials. Companies like Insilico Medicine have been making strides in this space, developing drug discovery collaborations with large pharmaceutical companies like GSK.GSK has recently established a drug discovery unit to explore how the rapidly developing field of AI might “drive drug discovery at a higher velocity, with greater precision and at a reduced cost.” The collaboration with Insilico represents one of several approaches that GSK is “exploring to take advantage of emerging technology” to make them “more effective and efficient, always keeping in mind the patients who need new medicines.”
  3. Health data marketplaces/data exchanges like Longenesis may be rare right now, but data collection at the source from wearables, EHRs, clinical trial sites, billing systems and connected homes/machines make them more and more possible, feasible and even necessary for better patient care and outcomes. Today, the collection of health data remains very siloed and fragmented, with somewhat of a monopoly on integrated datasets sitting with one or two sources. Health data marketplaces/exchanges (if done right) can enable interoperability while allowing patients and other stakeholders who own their data to store it, manage it, share it and monetize it if they choose - thus making it available for research, development, and even commercial usage at a cost they assign. The use of blockchain will enable this data to be secure, trackable and anonymized as needed. Examples of data exchanges and marketplaces already exist in the consumer world, but we can and must do better in healthcare.

These opportunities will require the bridging data, security, technology, artificial intelligence, human design and customer engagement management and don’t come without challenges (as stated by Matt Bona, the Head of Intelligent Pharmaceuticals at AstraZeneca) such as design and development, defining the benefit, scale, compliance and regulation. Even with the challenges ahead, being part of the healthcare revolution is worth it –as is each patient success story that comes with every small and large step we take towards its success!