Partnering in a digital era

Collaborations between healthcare and technology companies are driving the future of healthcare

In today’s era of personalised medicine, healthcare has evolved from mass treatments, which aren’t effective for all patients, to medicines specifically targeted to patient groups based on companion diagnostic tests. Now, with the advent of more sophisticated digital technologies, personalised healthcare is entering a new phase, expanding from companion diagnostics to a more complex, holistic view of patient health generated from a wide variety of data sources. This web of data will require a new ecosystem of partnerships with healthcare and technology companies.

“In the future, we will be using data for a variety of patient characteristics to determine the best combination of treatments to improve a person’s overall healthcare,” says Michele Pedrocchi, Head of Global Strategy and Business Development for Roche Diagnostics.

Data about patients and medicines are already streaming in from many sources—in vivo diagnostics, lifestyle sensors, labs, electronic records, clinical trial data, genomic data, physicians, and patients themselves. Together, they have the potential to drive better decision-making to find the most effective treatment for patients.

But this ecosystem of data requires a high level of coordination, standardisation, and analysis, all of which will rely on collaboration of healthcare companies and with technology partners.

Partners that gather, combine, and standardise data, using artificial intelligence and algorithms to make sense of it all, enhance the way Roche can discover, develop, and bring medicines to patients in a much more targeted fashion. “Our core business is discovering and developing medicines, and we recognise that we must have robust partnerships to tap into innovation that’s outside our walls,” says Gregg Talbert, Global Head of Digital and Personalised Healthcare Partnering.

In oncology, for example, Roche’s collaborations with Foundation Medicine, which drives the use of genomic profile, tumour genetic profiling, and next-generation sequencing, and with Flatiron Health, which provides and curates data from electronic medical records to research quality, strengthen our ability to provide better patient care. “The combination of clinical trial data and real-world data from electronic records can not only identify which patients should be in a clinical trial, but which treatments show the most promise for patients,” says Talbert.

The key to making big data useful is being able to standardise and analyse it, and develop platforms that allow users to interpret the information. Roche recently partnered with GNS Healthcare to bring powerful mathematics and machine learning to improve patient care in oncology. GNS takes data from clinical trials—genomes, molecular profiles, lab values, and other data points—and transforms it into computer models that reveal causal pathways for patient responses, new targets, and diagnostic markers that may lead to new treatments that are better matched to individual patients.

Another new partner that analyses big data is Viewics, Inc., which Roche recently acquired. Viewics focuses on business analytics for laboratories, taking data from a variety of sources and extracting it to make faster data-driven decisions in operating processes in the labs. “The Viewics platform provides the laboratory with all kinds of powerful tools and analytics that helps improve the efficiency of the lab,” says Christian Hebich, Head of Solution Integration and Services for Roche Diagnostics. “It’s an enhancement of our offerings from stand-alone systems to integrated systems that provide holistic solutions for healthcare developers, providers, and patients.”

“We founded Viewics with the belief that unlocking the value of data would drive immense value for our customers,” says said Dhiren Bhatia, Founder and President of Viewics, Inc. “With Roche’s expertise and strong alignment within our teams, we are excited to embark on this next phase of Viewics’ journey and jointly deliver on this mission.”

Roche is able to integrate these powerful new data tools from a variety of sources to create new options for healthcare, coordinating the many players–physicians, labs, administrators, regulatory bodies, researchers–in the digital space. Collaborations in the digital era will be more complex, says Michele Pedrocchi, because of all these players. “We have to learn to deal in a different way with our external partners,” he says.

“We have a lot to learn, but we’re embarking on that space and quickly getting up to speed.” Eventually, he says, personalised healthcare in the digital era will extend beyond the current benefits of individualised treatment and better decision making. “We’ll get more and more into preventive analysis and treatment, monitoring a patient before they are ill or acute, and identifying when they need earlier intervention,” he says. “This will give us a higher probability of saving lives, decreasing side effects, and lowering costs for everyone.”

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