Holistic Healthcare & the Role of Information Technology
The emergence of precision medicine is marked by new partnerships across different groups in medicine, health care, technology, academia and government. With technology like SAP HANA, precision medicine can improve patient outcomes by reducing costs and improving care.
The current business model for healthcare is not sustainable.
The U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other high-income country, and yet, our health results are some of the worst.
Costs are soaring in every aspect of the industry, especially on pharmaceutical drug prices, and neither politicians nor society can afford the recent hike.
"The current situation for the pharmaceutical industry is very challenging, with lots of significant and dynamic changes coming from limited budgets of payer organization and governments, and ever increasing expectations and aspirations by patients, physicians, and society of what 'modern healthcare, research and new technologies' might potentially accomplish," Furtwaengler said.
More than a Buzz Word: Precision Medicine
To better treat and prevent diseases, pharmaceutical companies, providers, payers, government entities, and technology leaders must join efforts to mainstream precision medicine.
Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.
The advent of precision medicine would entail changes to every facet of modern healthcare like FDA classifications, drug companies and diagnostics companies working together, full adoption of electronic medical records, and increasing accessibility to DNA editing and sequencing.
Arguably, the most progress in precision medicine has been made around cancer. Healthcare professionals can compare the sequence of a cancer patient's healthy genome with the sequence of their tumor genome, identifying the existence and location of a cancer marker or specific mutation.
In addition to DNA analysis, precision medicine examines the patient's phenotype and how the patient interacts with his or her environment.
Joe Miles of SAP agrees, saying, "it's not just about taking your drugs; it's making sure that you're eating right, exercising, being active, and having a good care circle." Wearable technology, e-health, and mobile health will play an integral role in keeping doctors and patients connected in and out of the office.
The Wharton Paper explains that precision medicine also considers commonalities between patients to help identify the best treatment options based on what has worked for others in the past.
CancerLinQTM is a state-of-the-art health information technology platform that leverages in-memory data management to analyze big data from a growing number of patient records. Record data is accessible to practicing oncologists in a simple, easy to comprehend user interface.
ASCO CEO Clifford Hudis noted that with CancerLinQTM, "we can learn from the care given to 97% of adult patients who do not currently participate in clinical trials."
An additional example is Grail, a startup in which Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have invested. This company is developing a cancer screening blood test for people even if they show no symptoms.
Information Technology Powers Precision Medicine
To implement wide adoption of precision medicine and eventually dramatically drive down healthcare cost, the healthcare industry must make a massive investment in new data systems, new business models, and new procedures, noted Thomas Wilckens of InnVentis.
Life sciences, especially, need to harness new technologies in order to speed the time-to-market, staying ahead of trends in precision medicine.
With technologies like SAP HANA we now have the power to comprehend various sources and formats of data in real-time. Scientific texts, clinical studies, proteomic data, genomic data... across any language can be viewed to identify trends and patterns. With technologies that can store and analyze gargantuan data sets with accuracy and incredible speed, healthcare professionals can pull actionable insights to make more informed and better care decisions.
Petra Streng of SAP put it best, "without the speed of the data systems, and without the technical ability to look at all this information, no human brain can process millions and billions of iterations and compounds. This is where IT needs to play a key role."
It is the role of IT, politicians, healthcare professionals, insurance companies, and society as a whole to work together to make precision medicine the standard of care. Human lives are at stake.