Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the val­ue of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine

By Natasha Cow­an, Con­tent Mar­ket­ing Man­ag­er at Blue Lat­i­tude Health.

Many stake­hold­ers are con­fused by nov­el pre­ci­sion med­i­cines, in­clud­ing pa­tients and health­care pro­fes­sion­als. So, how can in­dus­try help them to nav­i­gate this com­plex­i­ty?

Pre­ci­sion med­i­cine rep­re­sents a new par­a­digm in health­care. It em­bod­ies the shift from treat­ing many pa­tients with the same ther­a­py, to hav­ing the tools to iden­ti­fy the best treat­ment for every pa­tient.

This new ap­proach to treat­ing and pre­vent­ing dis­ease views the pa­tient holis­ti­cal­ly, analysing their genes, en­vi­ron­ment and lifestyle, and us­ing this in­for­ma­tion to make a more ac­cu­rate treat­ment de­ci­sion.

As a re­sult, health­care pro­fes­sion­als are shift­ing to us­ing tests to in­form rather than to con­firm treat­ment de­ci­sions. In clin­i­cal prac­tice, this means doc­tors are us­ing ge­net­ic tests and em­ploy­ing nov­el di­ag­nos­tics to pin­point the most pre­cise treat­ments.

Cru­cial­ly, this new era of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine will not on­ly treat pa­tients on a mol­e­c­u­lar lev­el, the in­sights from the ge­net­ic da­ta can then in­form fu­ture treat­ment de­ci­sions to im­prove
pop­u­la­tion out­comes.

We will be able to har­ness the da­ta of every pa­tient to bet­ter un­der­stand dis­ease, en­sur­ing our ge­net­ic data­bas­es are con­tin­u­ous­ly up­dat­ed.

Nev­er­the­less, we still have some way to go be­fore this can be ful­ly re­alised. While sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy are pro­gress­ing rapid­ly, some stake­hold­ers are still reel­ing from the seis­mic shift in the way pa­tients are treat­ed.

Blue Lat­i­tude Health’s re­cent re­port out­lines some of these chal­lenges through first-hand in­ter­views. It al­so in­cludes 90+ in­sights cat­a­logu­ing stake­hold­ers’ re­ac­tions to and un­der­stand­ing of this evo­lu­tion in health­care.

The bar­ri­ers pre­vent­ing in­no­va­tion

With­in this new era of pre­cise treat­ment sits a com­plex net­work of stake­hold­ers who are be­gin­ning to nav­i­gate the nov­el land­scape. It will take col­lab­o­ra­tion across this ecosys­tem for pre­ci­sion med­i­cine to be­come em­bed­ded in health­care sys­tems.

The pa­tient sits at the cen­tre of this web. As pre­ci­sion med­i­cine is re­liant on col­lect­ing large da­ta sets from pa­tients, their needs, wor­ries and fears are cen­tral to the progress of treat­ment. These range from con­cerns about the hered­i­tary im­pact of ge­net­ic tests to fears about pri­va­cy.

Fig­ure 1: Pa­tients sit at the heart of the pre­ci­sion med­i­cine ecosys­tem, in­flu­enc­ing all oth­er stake­hold­ers. The Blue Lat­i­tude Health re­port de­tails 90+ in­sights on how each of the stake­hold­ers is im­pact­ed by pre­ci­sion med­i­cine and ex­plores why pa­tients-cen­tric­i­ty is now more im­por­tant than ever.

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

Con­verse­ly, em­pow­ered pa­tients and car­ers are pro­pelling pre­ci­sion med­i­cine for­ward. Those with the abil­i­ty to re­search, or those with a sup­port sys­tem who can re­search for them, are push­ing doc­tors to treat them with the lat­est in­no­va­tions – nowhere is this more ev­i­dent than in the on­col­o­gy space.

How­ev­er, this is putting pres­sure on doc­tors to bet­ter un­der­stand the ge­net­ic foun­da­tions of dis­ease. These health­care pro­fes­sion­als of­ten re­ly on ge­net­ic coun­sel­lors, which are a scarce re­source.

Those prac­tic­ing in a com­mu­ni­ty care set­ting of­ten lack knowl­edge of pre­cise treat­ments, as shown in our in­ter­view with breast can­cer sur­vivor Lau­ra Holmes-Had­dad. As a re­sult, the ‘zip code lot­tery’ and pa­tients’ fi­nan­cial con­straints are fun­da­men­tal to can­cer care, with those un­able to trav­el to a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence of­ten fail­ing to get the best treat­ment.

Here, in­dus­try has a role to play in com­mu­ni­cat­ing the ben­e­fits of the pre­ci­sion med­i­cine ap­proach in a way that both ed­u­cates health­care pro­fes­sion­als and elic­its be­hav­iour change. Cru­cial­ly, this means work­ing with on­col­o­gists to de­vel­op tools, ser­vices and process­es to sim­pli­fy the search for in­for­ma­tion. Of­ten this will in­clude em­ploy­ing a mul­ti­chan­nel ap­proach to con­nect with doc­tors, who may not at­tend the larg­er con­gress­es where da­ta is re­vealed, out­side of cen­tres of ex­cel­lence.

In or­der to col­lect the holis­tic health­care da­ta need­ed for pre­ci­sion med­i­cine to be­come a re­al­i­ty, in­for­ma­tion will be tak­en from wear­ables and linked to phe­no­typ­ic and ge­nom­ic da­ta. As a re­sult, phar­ma com­pa­nies are show­ing more in­ter­est in part­ner­ing with health­care tech­nol­o­gy in­no­va­tors.

This brings a set of unique chal­lenges. These or­gan­i­sa­tions have tra­di­tion­al­ly op­er­at­ed in the con­sumer space and the tech­nol­o­gy is not well reg­u­lat­ed. Work will need to be done to en­sure the da­ta is ac­cu­rate enough to ev­i­dence treat­ment de­ci­sions.

Ad­di­tion­al­ly, some of the tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies will not have worked in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal space pre­vi­ous­ly. Of­ten, they do not un­der­stand the drug de­vel­op­ment and clin­i­cal tri­al process­es, as dis­cussed in our in­ter­view with med­ical in­for­ma­tion spe­cial­ist Nan­cy Brandt.

Our re­search shows that pay­ers think of them­selves as doc­tors first. They too are strug­gling to grasp the com­plex sci­ence be­hind these new tar­get­ed ther­a­pies and have in­di­cat­ed that they need ser­vices to help them bet­ter un­der­stand the val­ue of these nov­el treat­ments.

The Blue Lat­i­tude Health an­i­ma­tion on pre­ci­sion med­i­cine ex­plores some of the things in­dus­try needs to con­sid­er when com­mer­cial­is­ing pre­ci­sion med­i­cines and per­son­alised health­care prod­ucts and ser­vices. Watch the video here

The $475,000 (£367,000) price tag of No­var­tis’ CAR-T ther­a­py, Kym­ri­ah™, il­lus­trates how ex­pen­sive tar­get­ed ther­a­pies are in com­par­i­son to their tra­di­tion­al coun­ter­parts. One way
of over­com­ing this is by mov­ing to in­no­v­a­tive, val­ue-based pric­ing mod­els, in­stead of fo­cus­ing on the vol­ume of sales.

Here, pa­tient se­lec­tion is key for in­di­cat­ing how a ther­a­py can reach Pa­tients at the point of need. To show this val­ue, it’s cru­cial for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal teams to clear­ly con­vey the pa­tient
pro­file and pro­vide tools for iden­ti­fy­ing these pa­tients, as well as hav­ing the da­ta to sup­port why they are the most like­ly to re­spond.

Im­prov­ing out­comes for the mass­es

Da­ta col­lec­tion and analy­sis are the foun­da­tion of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine. In­for­ma­tion needs to be re­li­able, stan­dard­ised and have the abil­i­ty to be re­pro­duced in or­der for it to not on­ly ben­e­fit the in­di­vid­ual, but al­so to help in­form bet­ter out­comes at a pop­u­la­tion lev­el. As a re­sult, solv­ing the op­er­a­tional and in­te­gra­tion is­sues sur­round­ing da­ta col­lec­tion is a ma­jor bar­ri­er pre­vent­ing pre­ci­sion prod­ucts and ser­vices reach­ing pa­tients.

This means not just un­der­stand­ing the pa­tients who re­spond well to treat­ment but ex­plor­ing why pa­tients do not re­spond to a ther­a­py. Armed with this in­for­ma­tion, we can re­veal trends that could strat­i­fy pa­tient pop­u­la­tions, help­ing to im­prove out­comes on a larg­er scale. This is demon­strat­ed in our in­ter­view with Dr Tom Fowler of Ge­nomics Eng­land.

Once the pre­ci­sion da­ta has been har­nessed, tools such as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ma­chine learn­ing can be used to bet­ter de­fine pa­tient co­horts and im­prove the out­comes of larg­er pa­tient groups, re­duc­ing in­equal­i­ties in health­care.

The op­por­tu­ni­ties to trans­form pa­tient out­comes seem end­less, but it is not the sci­ence or tech­nol­o­gy hold­ing in­no­va­tion back. In­stead, it’s a ques­tion of en­sur­ing the in­dus­try can over­come the op­er­a­tional bar­ri­ers pre­vent­ing stake­hold­ers from un­der­stand­ing, ac­cess­ing and ben­e­fit­ing from tar­get­ed ther­a­pies. On­ly then will we be able to pre­dict, treat and pre­vent dis­ease.

Down­load our 65-page re­port to learn more about this top­ic and re­veal our stake­hold­er in­sights or if you are short of time, our two-minute an­i­ma­tion sum­maris­es some of the key in­for­ma­tion to con­sid­er when com­mer­cial­is­ing a pre­ci­sion med­i­cine.

To find out how Blue Lat­i­tude Health can help you solve your pre­ci­sion and per­son­alised health­care chal­lenges, con­tact si­mon.young@blue­lat­i­