Technology is considered one of the keys to the future of medicine. At the recent LIGHT forum in Palo Alto, leaders in the global healthcare industry addressed questions and concerns about the future of technology integrated within the healthcare field.
One discussion started with the opportunities that can arise when technology pairs with medicine. Dr. Olivier Brandicourt, CEO of Sanofi, noted that artificial intelligence (AI) is used in system biology, but now it can be tied with marketing studies to find an actual treatment drug. There are different tools such as targeting zap processes and computational network biology that can help hone in on biological pathway results. Rather than targeting multiple areas that are not necessarily affecting the body, integrated technology can pinpoint the specific pathway that is actually causing the malfunction. Using real world data helps define endpoints and may help pave the way for FDA agreement for different medications.
Brandicourt added that AI might be able to achieve a patient population simulation where doctors can apply virtual drugs. He said there may be a day that the FDA is open to receive virtual medication with virtual patients, but that is farsighted from what we can do today.
Joe Jimenez, former CEO of Novartis, proceeded to mention that AI will impact pharmaceuticals, health care and clinical data. Pharmaceuticals have pristine clinical data on millions of patients, and with AI, they could mine that data in ways a human cannot.
“To identify potential new indications for existing drugs or sub-patient population…AI can impact this area,” Jimenez said. “There could be pretty dramatic findings and new uses for existing drugs.”
Additionally, Jimenez said the ability for AI to take unstructured data and make sense of it, will impact and shift from a transactional system to an outcomes-based system for pharmaceutical companies. Right now, 20 to 30 percent of drugs are wasted by not having the appropriate outcome for a patient. Jimenez said this could help mitigate the waste and essentially, the patient would only be paying for the outcome. Kate Bundorf, Associate Professor of Health Research and Policy at the Stanford School of Medicine, said that providers do not necessarily have the incentive to get the diagnosis right the first time, so if providers are at more of a financial incentive risk, they may invest more tools, such as AI, to get it right the first time.
By spending more time on the research and design of a drug, it could help control what data is captured and allow physicians to find the right candidates to move through the pipeline faster, said Andrew Maas, Co-Founder & Co-Chief Scientist, Roam Analytics.
“We can apply machine learning to data, and radically improve the pre-phase part of the process…we could get better drugs that treat people in a more precise way,” Maas said.
The more personalized a drug is, the more secure physicians and companies will be. Sanofi’s Dr. Olivier Brandicourt believes with the involvement of genomics a company may open up and be more willing to go along with risk sharing, but by opening up, companies have to rely on large databases. Stanford’s Kate Bundorf added that in in order to organize this large amount of information and implement customized medicine, there would have to be development of apps or technology that people can use.
For instance, in certain diseases, instead of getting an injection every two months create an app that identifies when patients need an injection, said Novaratis’ Joe Jimenez . He said this could be a good base to start an outcomes and risk-based sharing that involves the patient.
Someday, the speakers believe things like Google and Alexa will prompt people with life style questions to help keep patients engaged and make them feel more empowered.