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3 Strategies to Leverage the “Connected Health” Future

female doctor future medicineMcKinsey & Company recently posted research for biopharma companies looking to anticipate future health trends. In it, the authors discussed the impact of new technologies shaping the future of healthcare delivery and outlined ways industry might anticipate future demand and opportunity. I want to focus on three strategies outlined in the article:

  1. Predictive medicine, which comes before the medicine: devices, software applications, information, and instrumentation that identify and target the right protocols for care of an individual patient or patient subpopulation
  2. Personalized care, which comes after the medicine: devices and services to monitor and deliver more cost-effective patient care
  3. End-to-end solutions for biopharma customers, which are services that help deliver desired outcomes to payors, employers, and patients

The “Connected Health” future is being driven by new tools and data analytics – “big data”. Information technology analytics capabilities are enabling biopharma and other healthcare constituents to look at data, particularly claims and outcomes data, in new and meaningful ways. Reimbursement requirements are driving much of this as medical providers are forced to demonstrate the effectiveness of their care.

Predictive Medicine

Genetics testing promises new and powerful ways to predict disease and design protocols for treatment. In an EMBO Molecular Medicine article, Richard Simon says:

Biomarkers are biological measurements that can be used to predict risk of disease, to enable early detection of disease, to improve treatment selection and to monitor the outcome of therapeutic interventions

Software applications are evolving and able to crunch these measurements to cross reference the predictors of disease states in anticipation of potential problems. Lab tests and testing devices continue to evolve and feed new data into modeling tools. In addition, new devices like the iWatch will continue to push the envelope of health data collection and consumer empowerment with improved access to their own health information on a daily basis.

Personalized Care

Dr. Kathryn Teng of Cleveland Clinic describes Personalized Care as:

We view personalized healthcare as a broader platform that includes genetics and genomics but also includes any other biologic information that helps predict risk for disease or how a patient will respond to treatments. An example of personalized healthcare would be the inclusion of specific biomarkers like Lipoprotein (a) that can help to better predict risk for heart disease or stroke in some individuals. These biomarkers can augment our traditional means of assessing risk based on age, menopausal status for women, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol levels.

It is a broader approach than traditional personalized medicine and requires data analytics and tools to support its actualization. Information technology remains front and center as healthcare providers continue to explore ways to tailor care to individual patients.

End-to-End Solutions

McKinsey’s Report (Sam Marwaha, Brian Milch, and Steve Savas) describes two examples of approaches to meeting the evolving requirements of the “Connected Health” future:

  • Big data and real-world data analytics can inform product development and meet the growing market demand for evidence of product safety and effectiveness. This capability requires using claims and clinical data in an uncontrolled, nonclinical-trial setting.
  • New collaboration models and partnerships can be used to share risk, improve capital efficiency, and speed up business-process evolution and innovation across the value chain. Innovation in social media, mobile health, and big data demands a mix of capabilities no single player could have, so leaders will learn to partner in new ways to ensure their future relevance.

The bottom line is that information technology companies will become more critical than ever as an enabler of healthcare delivery. Disruptive innovators that provide information in new and more meaningful ways will continue to enable and push practitioners as they react to the changing market. Organizations that anticipate these changes as well as the service and information needs of healthcare providers will continue to see tremendous growth.

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