Life sciences 3.0: How an integrated environment can deliver healthier outcomes

By Sharad Khusal

A new, connected dynamic is making its way into the life sciences and healthcare industries, shifting companies from a traditionally siloed approach to an integrated 3.0 environment. Here the emphasis is on a healthy outcomes ecosystem — one that spans nontraditional players such as IT, retailers and nonprofit organizations.

At the heart of life sciences 3.0 is the objective defined by regulators, providers, insurers and consumers: real-world evidence or real-world data. This real-world data extends well beyond the walls of the pharma company or even its traditional partners. It comes from areas across all sectors of the healthcare ecosystem: from the clinical trials setting — for example, genomic data, electronic health records and lab tests; from pharmacy databases; and increasingly from the patient — for example, in the form of social media, patient communities and advocacy groups, and patient-reported outcomes.

But what exactly does this mean for the pharma model? And how can life sciences companies derive value and develop strategies for better health outcomes in this new industry model?

There are several scenarios in which being able to connect to this broader ecosystem through an integrated platform would be of great value and advantage to the life sciences industry.

Defining value

One is merging and synthesizing this data to derive better patient segmentation populations. Currently, pharma companies use very large datasets to determine what they will take to the market for their pipeline, coupled with how the product does in clinical studies. But if we were able to take those large datasets and merge them with other potential data sources, such as hospital networks, patient data and laboratory results, it would be possible to extract better insights to determine the right patients or constituencies for that particular drug product.

The ability to determine the right patient cohort for testing a drug could help companies develop more targeted clinical trials, ensure that their drugs are prescribed to the right patients and ultimately realize better health outcomes from their products and enhanced business value.

Another potential use-case for an integrated platform — and one that would resonate well with one of pharma’s primary customers, hospitals — is therapy management. Good analysis of the efficacy and efficiency of that drug — assessing adverse event data and other relevant patient datasets from various healthcare providers — would make it possible for pharma companies to advise providers on how best to use a drug: which patients to prescribe it for, when and how. By ensuring that their drug is effectively and appropriately used, pharma companies gain greater trust in their products, reduce adverse events and help the broader healthcare ecosystem to lower costs.

The possibilities extend even further. If a pharma company gathers data on how its product works with different diagnostic systems and with various devices in a clinical trial setting, it becomes possible to identify properties that might be relevant in developing the next blockbuster or a breakthrough product to treat a rare disease or an area of oncology. This is made possible by gathering all those datasets and generating evidence-based insights from that collected data to assess whether there is potential value in certain therapeutic categories. Those findings can then be used to expand studies as well as to build an evidence-based regulatory submission that will improve a company’s chances of getting its product to market, thus delivering business value to the company.

Achieving big wins

The possibilities are limitless, but require a truly integrated approach — one in which companies are more willing to collaborate and share datasets, and that leverages a digital platform able to traverse multiple sources to connect data and people. As analysts have noted, the issue of interoperability is a complex one since it means trust, openness, willingness to share data and, importantly, the use of standards to make it possible to take all these datasets and put them into a comprehensible format. While some solutions exist that are good at integrating data, most lack the domain knowledge, standards or structure needed, so technology has been a barrier as well.

To make an integrated 3.0 healthy outcomes ecosystem a reality, it’s necessary to have a platform that leverages industry standards, such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), to allow the exchange of data, and other evolving industry standards, such as the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP), and that is platform agnostic.

While the move to a truly integrated network may be a difficult one for industry, it’s ultimately a win-win-win-win for all stakeholders: pharma companies, providers, payers and patients.

Sharad Khusal is the global build leader for DXC life sciences. He has over 25 years of experience in business and technology strategy and he is responsible for developing and executing upon DXC’s strategic vertical development plan for the global Life Sciences marketplace. He supports key opportunities, guides the development of new solutions, and creates vertical brand awareness via thought leadership initiatives.

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