Combining information efficiently from disconnected, diverse sources and locations persists as a significant challenge. With tools such as data analytics, machine learning and integrated platforms, digital health solutions may help unlock the full power of data both within the lab and externally.
It’s clear that “diagnostic testing has become indispensable for diagnosing and monitoring disease, for providing prognoses and for predicting treatment response.”1 Managing operational health data across healthcare settings is also essential for making more reliable, informed decisions.2 Some experts are predicting that, on average, it will only take another six years for the emerging digital technologies to replace many traditional delivery and business models in healthcare.3
Data - and the ability to turn that data into meaningful insights - holds great promise for informing physicians to enable the delivery of better health outcomes, disease management and the operational performance of labs and hospitals. The hope is that new digital technologies can accelerate turning that data into insights.
Yet today only 15% of healthcare organizations worldwide are fully equipped to make quick data-driven decisions. Lack of integrated infrastructures and information silos remain key barriers to digital transformation of healthcare. Other barriers include incompatible systems/data/workflows, insufficient funding, concerns about security, and lack of analytic skills and/or the right technology infrastructure.4
Labs are constantly seeking ways to optimize diagnostic testing and reduce operational costs while finding new valuable offerings for improving healthcare outcomes and elevating their pivotal role in the healthcare system. This increased visibility from digital solutions and analytical tools can guide lab leaders in the decision-making process as they move towards optimizing operations, customer delivery, and overall lab performance in a targeted and efficient manner.
With digitalization in healthcare, the work starts by asking: "How can technology be used to improve quality of care for patients and healthcare organizations?" This is particularly important as labs and hospitals use technology to connect and manage datasets and instruments efficiently within the lab and externally with devices in doctor’s offices or patients’ homes.
Yet simply adopting new technologies is not enough to deliver a seamless digital experience anywhere. In healthcare, it also requires the safe and secure use of information in alignment with data privacy rules as well as complex, evolving government regulations. When applying digital solutions, a deep understanding of science, medicine, and patient workflows across the entire healthcare journey is also beneficial.
At Roche we have deep experience in in-vitro diagnostics, and in health care overall, including pharmaceuticals, for 125 years. Our deep network of medical expertise with labs and patients spans the globe, and we have been applying our technical and digital expertise in lab automation and software for the past 30 years, primarily for operational efficiency. Now we look to a new future in care by helping labs connect externally to wherever healthcare is delivered to patients. Through digital solutions and analytical tools, decision-making and care coordination can be optimized to benefit patients at every stage of their healthcare journey. Examples of these digital health solutions include but are not limited to diagnostic algorithms and clinical decision support, provided on robust technical infrastructure and platforms.
Challenges undoubtedly exist, still the world is only at the beginning of realising the full value of diagnostics and the vast potential of digital solutions in the lab and beyond. Harnessing that full potential of advanced data, digital infrastructure and clinical insights - Roche - working in partnership with other leaders - aims to put its expertise to use and help healthcare systems transform. Most importantly, these advances will help everyone move one step closer towards improving patient lives.
In 2020, more than 23 billion diagnostic tests were performed using Roche platforms globally across diverse lab disciplines, generating a large amount of real-world data.5-6 Roche’s digital health area is focused on delivering data analytic tools that provide lab directors and managers with easier ways to track, review, and identify operational trends and challenges.
“Today we work closely with labs, high performance startups and companies to deliver a more seamless digital experience - one that optimizes operational performance through integrated workflows to help labs produce the right data points at the right time for better healthcare,” explains Corinne Dive-Reclus, Head of Lab Insights at Roche. “Data and digital provide a rare opportunity to make healthcare more accessible and scalable. I am convinced that if we innovate through digital means, patients will have a less disruptive healthcare experience and doctors will have better tools to make the right decisions, and ultimately, improve outcomes and reduce waste in the system.”
Roche digital solutions are already integrating large volumes of diverse diagnostic data across the entire lab process (from pre-analytics, analytics to post-analytics instruments). They serve as a virtual, sturdy backbone for the management of lab and hospital facilities. Together with partners, Roche is also using the latest digital technologies to connect health ecosystems and create new ones. For example, Roche experts are doing this with lab leaders in the areas of pre-pre analytics (from sample collection to lab reception) and in the area of point-of-care devices where software is enabling the governance, management and integration of data across Roche and non-Roche devices through open ecosystems.
New digital health solutions are also shifting the way in which patients are diagnosed and treated - and the pandemic accelerated this trend. This is most evident with point of care (PoC) devices, where diagnostics bring lab-like capabilities beyond the lab facilities and closer to patients. While healthcare may just be at the start of realising the full potential of PoC solutions, the benefits to healthcare professionals and patients are already clear.
To illustrate, imagine a nurse in an emergency department of a community health center - far from the central lab with limited resources at his/her disposal and little time to see patients. A digitally-enabled PoC solution – one that produces a quick result and is equipped with technology to guide clinical decision making – would make a difference to patient care. For patients, the PoC solution would offer a faster diagnosis, better informed care, and more convenient interactions with clinicians and nurses.
“We have great expertise in developing connected Point of Care solutions that deliver tangible benefits,” notes Ian Parfrement, Head of Point of Care at Roche Diagnostics Solutions. “Now we are building on this expertise and developing new digitally-enabled diagnostics solutions that offer the possibility of innovative models of care. We focus on the unique needs of healthcare professionals first, and aim to equip them with clinical insights ‘beyond the numbers’ so they can make the right decisions for the benefit of the patient.”
Roche is also providing digital solutions that help labs connect Roche and non-Roche Point of Care solutions for better governance, management and easy remote service of the devices. The goal is to integrate diverse data sets across a range of settings including electronic health records, so that healthcare professionals are equipped with clinical insights to deliver the best possible patient care and services.
Until recently, lab digital solutions focused primarily on decision-making tools to optimize testing operations and overall lab performance. The pandemic may have been the tipping point for digital transformation with many organizations - out of necessity - who started to accelerate their investments in digital solutions.7 Labs and related healthcare settings now have an opportunity to shape and lead the creation of new future models in diagnostics and healthcare. Digital health solutions are now focusing on decision support that can drive care coordination and optimization in specific diseases such as cancer.
“Advanced analytics informed by algorithms can transform large amounts of aggregated data points into insights that help improve clinical decision making," notes Tim M. Jaeger, Head of Provider Insights at Roche. “With digitally-enabled clinical decision support, clinicians across disciplines who are involved in cancer care, for example, can save time and be confident that all relevant information is being considered for the best possible treatment decision for a patient.’ He explains further: “These digital solutions also allow the care team to shift the focus from laborious meeting coordination, file collection and data search back to what matters most - the patient. Patients also know that all relevant information was considered for those crucial care team discussions and they get the timely answers they need.”
Historically, point of care diagnostics were ‘a number or reading.” Today, digitally-enabled and connected point of care devices can link central labs to electronic health records, combining diverse data points, creating networks among diagnostic instruments within a given health system, and can be equipped with services to support clinical decision-making. Roche aims to be at the forefront of this new revolution in point of care in partnership with labs and hospitals worldwide.
The digital transformation underway offers enormous possibilities to improve health outcomes for patient care, connecting lab, clinic and home settings. As knowledge in medicine and science grows, digital solutions, such as clinical algorithms that incorporate national guidelines, are making it easier to connect and analyse vast amounts of data in new ways. The results are helping physicians gain a deeper understanding of disease biology and its expression in individual patients. The ultimate goal: to bring about confident healthcare decisions linked to outcomes over time for long-term (longitudinal) disease management for the benefit of patients’ and physicians.
Roche, with its deep expertise in healthcare, is helping labs and hospitals make those connections a reality with the goal to push the right lab data - at the right time with the right application - for the benefit of patients. Going forward, our ability to capture and understand unprecedented amounts of data from multiple sources will allow for a more in-depth view of each patient, thus putting the promise of truly personalised healthcare within reach.
Roche also is committed to offering digital assets and patient-centric management solutions in developing regions with high disease burdens. In regions with high incidence of malaria, for example, Roche works closely with local partners and governments to ensure individuals can receive timely diagnostic results, remain adherent to treatment and engage in care through education and mobile reminders. This enables personalized healthcare at scale and helps reduce the socioeconomic burden on such health systems. At the same time, providing clinicians and other stakeholders direct access to a digital data platform allows them to address key clinical workflow issues.
Getting the right diagnostics, to the right patient, at the right time is essential. A clinical decision support solution that is centered on collaboration and data sharing ensures a patient-centric approach. Roche works in partnership with labs and hospitals - and with startups and other companies - that share our focus and commitment to improving outcomes for both patients and healthcare systems.
Roche Annual Report 2020 - first slide of This is Roche Diagnostics deck
Digital Diagnostics Transformation What’s Next? Featuring Alex Clemente, William Morice II, MD, PhD, and Nick de Pennington - Harvard Business Review Analytics Webinar sponsored by Roche July 2020